I worked at Appreciation Engine for three years as the Intermediate Developer. I loved AE for all the right reasons – the culture is open and constructive, there is a solid support system, I learned a lot, contributed a lot, and enjoyed working with all my coworkers.
The AE team in 2019. From left to right: Jason, Jenn, Grant, Annabel, Odette, Mike, Jeff
One thing that I believe makes AE unique is the company’s willingness to experiment with new or different ideas. When I was first brought on, my focus was a series of projects geared towards making our product user-friendly for potential self-serve customers. This evolved over time to a focus on our Enterprise clients. It’s totally ok and even encouraged to bring in ideas and shift gears over time. In short, AE doesn’t hold back just for a fear of failure. This position of adaptation and experimentation makes AE well-positioned for growth in the future.
As we’ve all learned this last year with the pandemic, having a good support system is key to success. AE has been not only professionally supportive, but personally supportive since the very beginning. There is a lot of trust earned in both directions here. I will always remember, less than a year after I started at AE, I had to suddenly leave for 6 weeks with no notice. Jeff and Annabel didn’t skip a beat or question it. They gave their full consent immediately, and we all worked through it together to make sure I was supported and successful working remotely during this stressful time. And this was all before the pandemic where working remotely is the new norm!
It paved the way for that trust in me and in them, and I commend their tremendous flexibility and understanding. I will never forget that when I returned 6 weeks later, my coworker gave me a card that she made. It seems small but it really hit me like a brick how much I am surrounded by caring and amazing individuals. The team is what got me through a tough time and I still get emotional looking at that card today. It is silly, but it reminds me of what matters.
The Welcome Back card – complete with fun-size chocolate bars!
One major goal of every developer is to work on great projects that are interesting and keep you learning. AE does this really well! I had a variety of engaging projects throughout my three years. When I look back on them, each year seems to have a different theme, which is fun. My first year at AE was focused on making our products more user-friendly and easy to understand for potential self-serve customers.My favourite project here was transforming AE Connect, our dashboard centre for setting up your account and social logins.
In year 2 I pivoted my focus to large data privacy projects. These projects were to showcase and communicate our industry-leading data privacy policies. I created a Privacy Center product for our clients’ users to access their data directly, and I also created a standalone website called My Data My Choice. Check it out, it is informative and looks amazing!
For me the best part of my job was my absolutely wonderful dev team. Mike and Jeff are some of the most incredibly understanding, welcoming, and encouraging people I have ever known. I have always felt like I can speak my mind, and my contributions were always appreciated (keep up those PR reviews!). I always felt like I belonged. I can’t thank you enough for all the professional and personal support over the years. I am also leaving feeling like I had great role models and leaders to look up to, and it helps me to see what kind of person and leader I want to be someday as I level up in my career as a developer.
The AE Dev team. From left to right: Mike, Jeff, Jenn
I will leave you with a fun activity we all did together every week – the Three-Track Thursday Spotify playlists! Every week I chose a random theme (I did 94 total!), and each team member picked three songs to go with the theme. This was a great way to keep everyone connected (especially after going remote this past year) and it was always fun to see how different everyone’s contributions were. In no particular order, I will leave you with some of my favourites:
Robots – Bleep bloop
Favourite Albums of the Decade – We opened up this one to the tech community in Victoria. The theme was to choose three songs that represented your favourite three albums in the 2010’s.
Video Game Soundtracks – This is my #1 of all. The team was on FIRE with this one.
Covers In A Different Genre – Weird and fun
Last Artists We Saw Live – Great at the time, but really takes on a whole new meaning in 2020/2021.
Speaking of cake – chocolate cupcakes!!