I make these reflections as my apprenticeship with INN ends. Over the past weeks, I have learned the many things one should learn in my position: good team communication, project management, and additions of new tech skills to my repertoire. And as if this summer did not bear fruits aplenty, from my teammates I have also learned about workplace flexibility and compassion.
Working remotely pushes me to be hyper-aware of communication. Without a doubt, there are many things that are more easily communicated in person, but if only I could share a glimpse of some of our Hipchat gif-sharing and taco-longing sessions, you would understand my preference for chat communication. Unlike real-time talking, chatting allows me to think through my ideas – particularly important for solving technical problems – and have a casual conversation with my colleague friends. This was my first experience of nearly 100 percent chat communication with a team, and I cannot overestimate how much it enhances team communication.
The on-point communication we practice amongst the INN Nerds team we also use with our clients. Working on two or three client project at once pushed me to take good notes and schedule project-specific blocks of time to be on top of communication for each project. With these practices, our team is able to work through blockers and move projects along.
And speaking of projects, I had the pleasure of working on superb data projects and learn a few new tech tricks this summer. For one, while I had used Python and worked with data science libraries such as sklearn and numpy, I was able to learn how to use Django to help create the New Mexico In Depth Capital Dilemma project. The Nerds team has also started a handful of other data projects with other INN members, and I am eager to see how these develop in the upcoming months. Finally, in the process of developing data projects, I learned about the importance of creating documentation and style guides, a practice many other tech teams should follow.
Certainly the things I will remember best about my apprenticeship will be the feelings of inclusion and flexibility fostered within the Nerds team. Working remotely made me more respectful of others' time and work-life balance. The INN Nerds team is a testament that remote work is feasible and that allowing an individual to find her highest-performing place of work is humane and optimal. I learned that it's acceptable and recommended to take time during the day to go out to lunch, an appointment, or go for a run. I’ve come to believe that the eight-hour workday is a vestige of times past, and that INN is a good example for nonprofits that may be interested in using telecommuting to attract the best people and decrease costs. For my part, working with the Nerds team made me reflect on compassionate workplace practices, something I hope to continue discussing and promoting in future work.