2017/12/08 at ISAO office

【Conversation between Senior and Junior】Gossip with the one and only fresh graduate in 2017

  • Takahiro Nishida

    Joined ISAO Corporation after graduating in 2014

    After having switched from back end to front end development, he takes on the challenge of developing with Swift on his 3rd year.
    He is a up-and-comer, leading his team and customers as a project manager for an accounting application.

    →Go to member’s introduction page

  • Naoya Fukuhara

    Joined ISAO Corporation after graduating in 2017

    Apprentice programmer graduated from technical college.
    His stomach hurts as soon as he gets nervous. Trying to become a quiet adult.
    Recently his hobby is listening to technical podcasts.

Right after graduating, the two of them joined ISAO, a company that has the culture of “super flat” management and carries the vision of "making work around the world more fun".
ISAO does not have any formal welcome ceremony like other big companies, nor a conventional training curriculum, so how did they learn about ISAO culture and grow here?
The situation surrounding fresh grads has changed over the past few years.
Their current work, what they have learned here, and their goals for the future.
Here is the testimony of these energetic members who are now active on the frontline.

対談写真1

How was it to be the only new graduate?

Fukuhara
Oh, right… I was the only one... I felt a bit like being surrounded during the welcome ceremony. (Bitter laugh) But now that it’s been nine months, I think there were more pros than cons being the only graduate.
The best thing I benefit from it was the training since I was put under Mr. Koji, an engineer and also an experienced project leader, and received his training for half a year as the only trainee. I felt I was really lucky for that.
Nishida
I see. It’s true that it’s something to have him for yourself.
In my case, the training lasted only one month! I’m so jealous!
I didn’t do any programming before so there weren’t a lot of lectures and it was more like I was asked to try first.
I remember being told “Try to use that” and starting practical work right away. And then, I made something similar to an automatic telephone system.
I learnt the basics gradually while doing it on-job, and Mr. Koji commented on my work each time. We did so for one month.
Fukuhara
Did you start from scratch?
Nishida
Yes, I made everything from scratch.
Well, actually, I used existing modules for some parts, but I wrote almost everything by myself.
At first, I thought “Isn’t it going too fast?!” but I quickly got used to it.
Once I finished the system, Mr. Koji gave me these words, “You have worked really hard for the whole month!” and the training from him ended there.
Fukuhara
That’s so different from mine.
I have been writing codes at school and as a pastime, so there was almost no training on programming. If you were to ask me, it was more centered around things like how to work as an adult, what’s important as an engineer, the correct attitude to take…
If anything, I was expected to improve my way of thinking and behavior rather than my technical abilities.
The training was scheduled to end after one month. But by the end, I got stuck on a sequence diagram I was working on, so I couldn’t finish in time.
This job was part of my training, but when I came to the conclusion I couldn’t do it all by myself, I asked Mr.Koji if he could look after me for another month. In the end, he in fact gave me three extra months.
At that time, I didn’t realize how much it had costed the team, but now I truly understand how significant it has been for me to have Mr. Koji standing by me a few hours every day.
Nishida
Right, it’s not every day you can be taught one-to-one.
The fact you had these three months is really big.
Fukuhara
Yes, it really is. I felt the company had invested a lot of money and time on me.
Nishida
So jealous! To think that my training lasted for only one month! (Bitter laugh)
対談写真2

Being surrounded by seniors, you must think twice before asking questions.

Fukuhara
Being surrounded by seniors means that you have many people looking after you, which is a good thing.
Since I was the only new graduate, anyone I met knew my name!
I felt so bad, because I had a hard time remembering everyone’s name.
So many co-workers took me out for lunch one after another, and actually I never had to pay for my lunch for a while.
I’m very grateful for that.
Nishida
Ahahahaha.
Yeah right, everyone was like that to me as well. So, I’m just repaying the kindness.
I’m so thankful that even the co-workers in other departments were very open and would just come and talk to me.
Fukuhara
When I get juniors, I will try to treat them as nicely as they treated me. (Bitter laugh)
Oh, I’d like to share one thing that I think really helped me to grow a lot.
Whenever I had something I didn’t understand and wanted to ask for help, it always took some courage to speak to my seniors because without exception, every single one of them have a lot more experience than me.
Since I can’t just talk to them easily, I would do my research as precisely as possible, try it out myself, and after I had clearly defined my problems, I would finally ask for help.
I have realized it is a very effective way to learn something.
If you just get all the answers without really understanding the problem, it might get solved more quickly, but you can’t quite earn anything.
I think this emotional hurdle really helped me grow.
Nishida
That’s right. It’s important to learn how to solve problems by yourself.
For instance, it’s easier just to ask “How do you do this?” and get the straight answer. But if you ask “I tried it with this method, but it didn’t work,” they can teach you like “That method can’t be used in this case because blah blah. So for those reasons, you should try this method.”
Both ways solve the problem, but there is a huge difference in the quantity you get to learn.
…It sounds like there were only good things, what about the bad? Like feeling lonely?

There are no Doki-Nomis (Drinking party with people of same age)

Fukuhara
Yes... There are no Doki-Nomis.
When I ask my friends who work at other companies to go out for a drink, they usually turn me down because they have a Doki-Nomi to attend. When that happens, I feel lonely.
It makes me a little sad like “Ahhh, I see…“
Nishida
Hahahahaha, I feel you.
For me, there was another girl who joined at the same time, so I wasn’t alone… But I’ve never went out for drinking one on one with her.
Each of us had our own group of people in the company to hang out with, so even if we plan to go out, other co-workers always join in so it wouldn’t be just me and her. But there was a sense of security that I wasn’t alone, I guess.
I was a little concerned for you being the only new graduate.
Fukuhara
At the beginning I was pretty worried. Especially earlier this spring.
Honestly speaking, there was a time I felt really down, so I think if there were more new graduates, I could at least have someone to talk to.
“Loneliness” might not be the right word. It’s more like a sense of insecurity of not having someone around you in the same situation as yourself.
Nevertheless, people always talk to me during the day and in the evenings, and my senior sitting next to me often took me out for a drink. I had the constant feeling that they were looking after me, so I was okay. People really showed me what one of ISAO Spirits “Bond like a family” means.
対談写真3

So, How’s Work?

Nishida
How was the actual work after you finished trainings?
Back then, I started off with creating some simple tools, and immediately after, developing new functions as on-job training.
Fukuhara
Pretty much the same.
I began my on-job training in connection with Mr. Koji’s lectures, and also had him looked at my work in person, but the project I joined was... the Payment team.
It was-the central of Backbone System, which everyone has nothing but “what a killing job” to say, and of course I was one of them.

Gratefully, I was not instantly called to make something new, but asked to first read codes.
Reading the actual source codes, looking into the database structure, checking the specifications, and examining the Backbone System allowed me to produce a sequence diagram of carriers, and understand the basic shape of the system.
I first got my hands-on Database tasks, Infrastructure the next, and widened the task range little by little.
Counting them as simple workloads, they would not cost even a day to finish, but listening to explanations, taking the job on, and receiving feedback... these in total costed hours and hours.

Having my work reviewed in detail did give me comfort though.
We could never make even the slightest error in the Payment system, so it was really relieving to have such reliable seniors backing up.
Nishida
Backbone is really difficult, isn’t it? When I first tried it, I was also filled with anxiety...
With the thought, “is this really OK?” in mind every single time.
Fukuhara
My hands were shaking all the time at first, so I always asked for double checks and reviews in person.
However, after I got more used to it, and we did not have much time for reviewing, senior members told me to simply write on “wiki”. It was then I felt I had earned their trust, even though it may be as tiny as it was, it boosted my confidence.
I was still kind of nervous though, thinking “was that really alright?!” (Dry Laugh)
Nishida
But it was indeed alright, no?
Fukuhara
Well... Yes.
It was alright most of the times... I guess.
There were times of failures, but feedbacks were given promptly by senior members.
対談写真4

Miscalculating the Schedule

Fukuhara
And then, just about when I started to think I was getting the hang of it…
Nishida
Oh, sounds like something went wrong.
What happened?
Fukuhara
Yes, I really messed up…

I couldn’t meet the deadline!! (screams desperately) The schedule was tight in the first place, but somebody had to do it, so I volunteered myself saying “Let me take the job!” I thought it would be a good challenge, but it turned out it was too much for me and I couldn’t finish it in time.
I don’t regret taking the job, but I really could have done better.
Nishida
So, how did it end?
Fukuhara
I somehow managed to finish it using the time spared for another project, but the time was so limited that I couldn’t take enough time for a review.
As a result, the quality was below expectation.
The client pointed out a few flaws to me and I still need to fix some parts to this day.
After all, it’s been taking me more time than it should have.
I learned the lesson from this mistake, and since then my motto is “Review thoroughly, always.”
Nishida
You’re right. Having others reviewing your work can assure your team members as well.
Fukuhara
I made an excuse that I didn’t have time. I must reflect on that.
Nishida
If you could give advice to yourself at that time, what would you say?
Fukuhara
Hmm, let me think...
I guess I’d say “Work faster! Don’t take it so easy!”.

Back then, I was beginning to finish up tasks on my own.
I was gaining confidence and overrated myself that I could manage it all.
That’s the part I’ve thought most deeply. Since then, I always set my own deadline a few days before the actual deadline.
Now I have put on the habit of planning ahead and finishing the job in good time.

...Though just recently, I submitted my work at the very last minute… (looks away) But, thanks to my new habit, It wasn’t overdue.
Nishida
I think you should be proud of yourself for learning how to finish your job in time. Setting the “buffer time”. It’s the key indeed.
As you continue to grow, you will soon learn how much time you need to spare for each project, and how to estimate man-hours accurately.
Fukuhara
It’s still hard for me to estimate the man-hours, let alone buffer time…
Nishida
I used to be just like you, always a few days behind or ahead of the initial schedule.
But in time, you will get better at it and be able to take an objective view of your ability.
対談写真5

Sending your own creations out into the world

Fukuhara
It’s a bit weird if I talk only about my failures, so let’s also look at something that went well, for example the other day, a client-oriented system developed by me has been released.
Which is a sales system API for a certain product.

Originally, it was another person that’s supposed to work on it, and the construction time was set extremely short. So, I was like, "Can I do this on such a tight schedule?"
Sure enough... “My” estimation was right and that deadline was exceeded, but since I told them beforehand that it would be too tight, the overall deadline was somehow met.
Nishida
Oh, that’s great.
Is it already out in the market? Maybe while we are here talking, there is someone somewhere using your API to do shopping.
Fukuhara
Yeah, maybe. I heard that it is already making a few million yens of monthly turnover.
Nishida
Oooh!
And don’t you think it’s exciting when users have access to the system that you developed by yourself for the first time?
Fukuhara
Yes, you are right.
I have been writing quite a lot of things by myself, but it was the first time that I made a program that is designed to be sold.
I can brag about it as my first achievement as a working adult.

I was not asked by anyone to do this work, when I saw the requirements for this API, I just thought, “Oh, I can do it.” I just raised my hand and asked: “can I make this API?”, and I got the assignment.
The fact that it happened like this also makes me feel some special emotion deep inside, like “yeah, it’s me, I did it!”
I got the self-confidence that I could write programs as my work, the self-confidence that I could compete in the world with the php that I write.
At the same time, I found myself short on DB knowledge, and some other areas to be improved, such as manpower distribution. These are my future assignments to work on.
Nishida
That’s promising.
You can be proud when you succeed in something that you have initiated by yourself. I hope that you will keep raising your hand often.

What I Think About Making a Junior

Nishida
A few fresh graduates entered the company after I did, but they were in sales or design, not programmers like me.
They were of course my juniors, but it wasn’t as if I would be teaching them anything because we wouldn’t be working together often.
So, I didn’t really have any feeling that I had any juniors.
When Fukuhara joined as a programmer, and I saw that he was taking the same route as me, I thought I finally had someone to teach.
Fukuhara
Yes, thank you for teaching me so much every day.
Nishida
Hahahaha. Am I teaching you? Is it okay?
This was the first time I was asked to teach someone else, but I felt that while I was teaching him, he was teaching me a lot, too.
The first thing to remember is that “teaching is difficult.”
I couldn’t just line up all the things I know, of course. What I think is the most important is to closely watch the other person and think.
Am I communicating well? Does he understand?
What order should I tell him in? How much do I teach him?
Does he say just say, “Yes, Sir!” even when he doesn’t get it? Things like that.
Fukuhara
...sorry. Sometimes, I did say I understood even when I didn’t.
Nishida
Don’t worry about it. That’s what people do. I do it sometimes, too. (Laughs) At times, you felt like you got it, but a few minutes later, you just lose it.
So, I want to look back on that experience, and follow up on any of the places I may have been lacking in.
So, this is a learning experience for me, too.
Fukuhara
When I’m being taught, I am going to do my best not to give a vague answer.
Nishida
Recently an intern came and worked as part of our team. There was a huge amount to teach.
But, because he told me the ways that he wanted to grow, I had a lot of fun thinking about the things I could teach him.
Fukuhara also has a strong ability to follow up.
Watching these two - and I sound like an old man saying this - their growth has become a huge motivator to me.
Seeing their abilities grow has been really fun. It’s exciting.
Fukuhara
Really? (Laughs)
Well, I had no idea you were watching like that.
I will keep learning so that you can enjoy watching!
Nishida
Hahaha!
Did you really just say that? I look forward to it.
Recently though, when I’ve found some kind of job I think you’d be good at and come to tell you, you seem to be busy with the payment project. So…
Fukuhara
Yes! That’s true! Sorry about that.
That’s something I need to work harder at, or maybe improve my efficiency. Thank you for everything.
対談写真6

What kind of engineer you’d like to be

Fukuhara
From the working aspect, I’d wish to continue writing programs.
But if you ask what kind of engineer I want to become, I’ve actually got an answer ― to be an “I’ve done it” engineer.

I believe there are only two types of engineers in the world, one that thinks to do something, and one who have tried something.
Between the two, I want to become the one who “have tried” something, but not an engineer who just “thinks of trying” something.
Putting it more concrete, instead of saying “Hmm, Xcode does look interesting, but...” rather, “Xcode looks interesting, so I played with it, and then...”
Nishida
Which means to always be hungry towards new stuffs and walking the talk.
Fukuhara
Exactly. I don’t want to end things by talking.
If something intrigues me, I’d like to touch it before grumbling.
I found Xcode fun recently, so I have started to work on it, and I’m enjoying myself with docker at home as well.
I’m doing them more like for recreation, so I’m not sure whether I will be able to apply them onto work, but still I wanted to try them, so let’s put expertise aside for now.
Nishida
Well, that’s important, isn’t it? Stepping up from 0 to 1.
Taking a step towards an unknown field may appear to take huge energy to do so, but it’s not really such a big deal.
Many people just stop moving ahead upon facing a psychological wall. The practice of breaking through the wall without even noticing it definitely allows you to have the upper hand.
The best way for an engineer to learn a skill is to play with it, and I am convinced that people who do that will truly become a specialist.
Fukuhara
It’s much easier than reading documentation of work examples, isn’t it? (Laugh)
Just because it’s fun makes me feel like I can memorize the skills 3 times faster than learning them from papers.
Nishida
Even though you started off playing, they will eventually connect with your work practice.
Fukuhara
I still couldn’t find a comprehensive vision for myself, but I will consolidate things little by little.
対談写真7
Nishida
That’s not a bad thing.
For the past 2-3 years... nope...

Since I first joined ISAO, I have always been wondering how my future as an engineer will be like.
I never had a clear goal in my mind defining what I want to be.
Although I had a fuzzy picture to become a full stack engineer, I didn’t have any roadmaps to achieve so, and at the same time I was asking myself whether it’s really what I’d love to do.

With such a blurry vision, I took on different jobs among various fields, working as a salesman and sometimes a project manager, putting some time on programming and infrastructure still. And in the end of the thinking process, I found it.
Having talked to many people, this came to my mind, that I’d wish to become the man who gets offers from all the companies to be hired as a CTO.
Yes, it’s ambitious, but always dream big!
Setting the target this high will force my learning curve much steeper, and that’s gonna make me strive to grow.
Fukuhara
Wow, a technical consultant!
If you become a hot CTO candidate, you may as well publish some best sellers and live off book royalties!
Nishida
True! Though I don’t know if I’d write a book. (Laugh) I will however make some money.
Wouldn’t it be great to live off payout of interviews by the way?
Fukuhara
Talking about interview payoff... Oh, it seems we’ve got some chocolate here.
Nishida
That’s all from Nishida and Fukuhara! Hoho.

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