Working for Ramsey Solutions – The First Week (2010)

I was going through Facebook, and noticed that i had a handful of old "Notes". In an effort to keep blog-type stuff consolidated, I am moving some of those over here and off of Facebook.

The last "Note" I wrote was about my first week's experience at my current employer, Ramsey Solutions. This was originally posted 10/03/2010.

A full week has gone by, and I figure I would update the few people who wanted to know how things were going.

Last week was all about moving. This week was about getting up to speed at work. Briefly, it is a good place to work, but so was CARFAX. I think a lot of people on my team have been burned by 'corporate' America, but thankfully I have never had a job like that, save maybe working for the Univeristy of Illinois.

The week starts out with an all-hands staff meeting. Those of you who really know me know how much I dislike departmental staff meetings (especially those on Wednesday afternoons), much less meetings that involve even 100 people. But, this one was actually very productive. I was the first one there - I had Summer drop me off early enough that I would not be late, and to gauge the traffic between our house and the office. I sat around for about 20 minutes and found my team and joined them before the meeting started. Dave leads this meeting, and it started off with him reviewing the weekend's MyTMMO live event in Phoenix. After that, each department was given a chance to talk about what was new and noteworthy. This also was the time to announce new employees - there were four of us. We each had to introduce ourself, and I was coached by my team to keep it short. The other new hires had not. Long term employees were honored - there were a couple of 10 year employees, and it looks like the anniversary gift is some sort of coin. The whole meeting ended in a prayer (keep in mind that this is a Christian organization), and then it was off to work.

I went straight to new-hire onboarding. One of the HR ladies talked about what we needed to do in our first two weeks, gave us an overview of the intranet and some other IT systems, and then released us to our teams. My team took me out to a local burrito place, much like Chipotle. After that, I filled out some paperwork, got a tour of the office, and was told to try and meet Dave on the first day. I was told that the best time to do that was right before the show. He and several random employees get together to pray that the show goes well. Henry, one of my teammates, showed me the way to the prayer area, and I had a very brief intro to the CEO himself. The rest of the day was spent getting my computer set up.

I spent the better part of Tuesday also working on my computer. At CARFAX, when a new person started, since they were pairing with someone else, the computer would already be fit for development. Here, the developer is left to get the computer set up in a way that works for them. Maybe it is a form of hazing - I haven't quite figured that out just yet. The setup is a little overly complicated, something I hope to try and fix. We are developing in Coldfusion, which is being served up in a combination of Apache Httpd 2.2 and Tomcat 6. Junction points (symlinks for NTFS) are used in several places to link Tomcat back into the Eclipse workspace. The WEB-INF, META-INF and CFIDE (WEB-INF for CFML) are stored outside of version control, so there is a separate junction to those. Again, really complex. But, so was CARFAX 5 years ago. We also had a catered lunch on Tuesday - much like CARFAX has Friday lunch, Lampo has, well Lampo Lunches once a week, just not on a fixed day (not sure if it has to do with Dave's schedule or the caterer's schedule).

Wednesdays start off with a 'devotional'. Usually a guest speaker is brought in to encourage the team. This time it was one of the founders of Crown Ministries, which is a group that is in a sense a competitor, only the founder said 'In the body of Christ there is no competition'. He spoke for about 30 minutes, then there was a brief update from the various departments about what was going on, as well as an opportunity for individuals to announce really good stuff (someone was pregnant), and ask for prayers. The rest of the day was also spent setting up the computer.

Thursday was, well, you guessed it, mostly computer setup. I started working on JIRA tickets in the afternoon, and was able to get 2 mostly done. We are gearing up for a major overhaul to one of the backend systems, but while we wait for the requirements to be solidified (no Agile), we have some bugfixes to the existing system to make. Summer and the kids joined me for lunch around noon. We were in the main lunchroom heating up the food when Dave walked in to take his lunch before the show. Summer didn't notice him at first, but when he started talking to the kids she sure did. He said hi to her, and he was very friendly to the kids.

On Friday I wrapped up a couple more tickets. The whole web development staff, about 25 or so, took me and another new guy out to lunch. Around 2 there was a web development staff meeting to go over successes and upcoming things. Finally, at the end of every week, the guys in my area have this tradition of taking foam stress balls and throwing them at each other for 5 minutes to unwind from the whole week, so I got to participate in that.

It was a good week, and I look forward to many, many more in the future. The company is a great place to work, especially when compared to so many 'corporate' environments. CARFAX was a good place to work as well, and I intend still refer people there. I have been bless so far in my life to have great employers; hopefully the trend will continue.

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