A Day in the life of a Lead Software Engineer at Unacademy
Ever wondered what it's like to be a lead developer?
At some point, we all have worked under a leader who we’ve looked up to, people who are always a step ahead of us, making decisions and guiding us to success.
As someone who has worked their way up from being a Software Developer to become an Engineering Lead at Unacademy, I can tell you that the experience is both challenging and rewarding.
Today I’ll be sharing what a typical day at Unacademy for a Lead Software Engineer looks like.
But before I dive into my daily routine, here’s a little bit about me. I graduated from BITS, Pilani in Computer Science. After that, I worked at Amazon before joining Unacademy as a Software Developer.
Now, as an Engineering Lead, I am responsible for managing a team of around 15 people divided into two pods - one for payments and the other for CRM.
Let’s explore my day-to-day routine which is packed with coding, meetings and brainstorming sessions.
10 AM: Meetings and Updates
I usually start my day by checking emails for any important updates from the team or the management and responding to them.
I also review my to-do list that I created the previous day and prioritise my tasks accordingly.
After that, we have a team standup that lasts for around 30 minutes. In this meeting, we catch up on the previous day's work.
It's important to keep everyone in the loop, so communication is key!
We discuss the progress made the previous day on the set targets. And as a team lead, I make sure everyone is on the same page and ready for the day ahead.
Around this time all the pod members individually come and give me an update on their current work. If they are facing any blockers, we tackle them head-on and find solutions together.
This also helps us stay focused and ensure that the project is moving forward as planned.
As a team leader, I also have the responsibility to make sure that my team operates at its best and I take that very seriously.
12 PM: Code Reviews
At noon, I usually have some time reserved for code reviews which is a really important part of my job as a team lead.
I need to make sure that the written code is bug-free, efficient and meets the company’s expectations.
This helps to maintain the quality of the codebase so that we can deliver the best possible experience to our users.
1 PM: Unwinding with Lunchbreak
Lunch is an ideal time to cool off and step away from work.
It's important to take a break to avoid burnout and maintain productivity.
As a team lead, you’ll have less free time on your hands but this is what I signed up for. But guess what, it’s worth the effort.
I love discussing different things with the team members.
The better connection we have, the better our work synchronisation.
2 PM: Diving into Coding
After a refreshing break, I put myself back in gear.
This is usually the busiest time of the work schedule.
I spend my second half mostly on coding if I don’t have any other important meetings lined up.
I often collaborate with other departments to make sure that our projects are aligned with the overall business goals.
When I split tasks for a project, I make sure that I also work on a major chunk so that I don’t lose touch with hands-on.
Being a lead dev, I need to be flexible, take initiative and ensure that we deliver top-notch work.
5:30 PM: Reflecting and reviewing
I reserve my evenings to see if the team are facing any blockers and if there are any pending tasks or any cross-team communication that needs to be done.
Additionally, I provide constructive feedback to my team members to enhance the overall quality of our projects.
I also take some time to reflect and evaluate my own work objectively and how I can improve as a developer.
After that I plan for the next day, do pending code reviews (if any) and document any important stuff before signing off.
It's important to stay organised and plan everything ahead of time to tackle new challenges every day.
As you can see almost 40% of my time goes into management activities. The rest 60% is spent on writing scalable and efficient codes.
I believe in leading by example so I make sure that I meet my team’s expectations and am always available for them and provide constant support and guidance.
A great challenge in this field is to keep up with the changing trends and new technologies.
As a lead developer, people will be looking up to you, they’ll have expectations. Hence, you need to stay ahead in the game.
Personally, I follow a couple of developer blogs and also have a list of youtube channels on my playlist.
Apart from these, I also go through top tech companies' blogs such as Google, Microsoft, etc. to stay in touch with the latest design practices.
It's really rewarding to see people actually use the products or systems that we build and make a difference.
The transition from Amazon to Unacademy
I know that it's not every day that people willingly transition from a MAANG to a startup.
But I did.
In my brief stint at Amazon, I learnt a lot of things and was quite glad about the kind of experience that it gave me.
But I felt like I was not able to reach my full potential. At the end of the day, I was not satisfied with my work and this feeling kept nagging me.
This is where I wanted to take a chance and try something new.
When I decided to change companies, I was not sure if the decision was correct or not. Fortunately, it turned out to be the best decision that I could have made for myself.
Working at a promising startup like Unacademy, gave me a lot of creative freedom and the choice to take risks. From day one, I was working on high-level projects. I understood the true meaning of accountability and responsibility.
Moreover, I constantly upskill myself to keep up with the fast-paced environment. I am striving to be a developer that others can look up to.
Here, every day is dynamic.
Some days can be hectic and you may feel like there is not enough time.
One thing I have learnt in this role is to trust the process while working under pressure. And who doesn’t love a little bit of pressure? It keeps me on my toes.
Eventually, you’ll overcome the challenges and the work will be done.
Seeing your hardwork come to life and create a positive impact is definitely worth it.
If you are looking to become a developer, my first advice would be to have persistence and curiosity.
All the other skills are learnable but these two should come from within. Also, you can read this how to become a backend developer guide where I have covered all the necessary skills required and preparation tips in detail.
Finally, I’d like to say that there is a lot of personal and professional growth in this field.
If you are looking to become a developer, there is no better time.
And if you stumble or have doubts, reach out to others for help, we are all in this together.
Feel free to connect with me. We can work together to help you overcome your challenges and make your dreams a reality.
So, stay curious, stay persistent, and keep coding!