Findmypast Tech

My onboarding experience at Findmypast

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I have recently joined Findmypast as a Junior DevOps Engineer working with tools such as Kubernetes, Docker, Puppet, Ansible, Prometheus.

I have created this blog post for anyone interested in joining Findmypast and would be interested in some generic questions answered.

What Personal Equipment are you given?

I was offered a choice of three operating systems: Windows, Linux, or macOS. My laptop also arrived a few days early giving myself plenty of time to set up and get my favourite tools ready.

How was your Onboarding process?

My onboarding was different from the usual process as it happened during the lockdown. Initially, I was worried about how I could get to know colleagues, understand the culture, and learn the general structure of the company. But something which stood out was how well the Findmypast team kept in contact once I had accepted the offer. They hosted Zoom calls and invited the team with mini introductions to get to know each other before my official start date. This helped to get a better understanding of who I would be working with and an idea of the team and company structure.

Also, once you officially start you are invited to a presentation with all new joiners hosted by the executive team, where they discuss their role, departments, and company mission. Additionally, you are invited to a one-to-one introduction call with the executive team to get to know one another.

What it’s like as a new joiner in DevOps at Findmypast?

In this current situation working with FMP as an engineer is remote. Before joining, I had concerns with how working remotely would go and whether or not this would be an effective approach to learning and getting up to speed in a new role.

From the first week, I could see how Findmypast had adopted remote working effectively and efficiently. We hold daily stand-ups to discuss our progress on tickets, review work, and plan the day. Tools such as Zoom and Slack are also utilised for effective communication. Once you join there is also a set of tasks that have already been created for your first month, so you have something to work on from the get-go.

Findmypast is also very big on pair programming which I’m finding immensely valuable to exchange experiences and knowledge. We switch between a “Driver” and “Co-Driver”. The driver leads the session whilst the “Co-Driver” inputs and provides additional knowledge to the task.

A huge benefit at Findmypast is they are big on learning and personal development. We are given a study hour each day - an hour which we are encouraged to take and use to learn about something especially interested in. Recently I have been using this hour to deep dive into Puppet to catch up to speed. We also hold True North days where we each research a specific tool of interest and share the results.

Have you worked on any exciting tasks since joining?

Yes, many. At Findmypast we have a range of different Linux and Windows nodes, and to my surprise, I have enjoyed working on tasks with our Windows Server nodes. Previously having only used the Linux terminal, it was a welcoming change jumping into Powershell at Findmypast. My Powershell knowledge was built on installing and configuring Kubernetes through the terminal and automating the installation of certain packages and file creations.

There are a lot more tasks, but to summarise I have listed some below:

  • Updating our integration and production Kubernetes clusters to v1.17.4.
  • Updating nodes to Ubuntu 20.04 and Windows Server 2019.
  • Installing Kubernetes onto Ubuntu nodes.
  • Dockerize Linux and Windows applications to deploy onto Kubernetes.
  • Chaos testing the resilience of services to test for any failures.
  • Contributing code to our Node JS applications.
  • Configuring and creating ETCD clusters.
  • Automating the installation and deployment of our nodes through Puppet and Ansible.

What do you enjoy most outside of DevOps at Findmypast?

What I enjoy most is how friendly and welcoming everyone is and employees are also given a lot of recognition for work with a specific #shoutouts channel. Teams also get the opportunity to present their achievements and any show-off what they are working on to the company every Friday during our weekly demos.

Because of social distancing and remote working, we have hosted events over zoom. These range from company quizzes or colleagues just joining on a Friday for socialising. There are also various slack channels to join from #gardening, #gaming, #book-club, and #wellness.

Overall, I am enjoying my time at Findmypast and continue to look forward to helping create a product for our customers.

If you would like to join the team, please head over to the Findmypast Careers Page.