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A day in the life of... Senior Developer, Chris Mitchell

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This year will mark 6 years of working at The Key. How has your career developed?

Six years ago we were a very small team of 3 looking after the development and maintenance of our then core products, The Key for School Leaders and The Key for School Governors. Over time, I progressed to lead on lots of exciting new features and product developments, like our app, which was a great opportunity and experience. In addition to coding, I've also had the opportunity to take on a mentoring role in the last few years, after we brought in new talent to expand the engineering team, now at 12 full-time members. My role as Senior Developer also means being involved in the discussions around our technical architecture, as we continue to grow as a business and offer more products and services. 

I live in Portugal so learning to work remotely and do this successfully while taking on more responsibility has also been an area of great personal development.


What does a typical day look like for you?

First and foremost is always an espresso to help wake me up! Then the working day starts with a daily meeting (or daily stand up as we call them) with my project team, where we discuss the progress of ongoing work. Next, I get stuck into my tasks for the day; these could be coding a new development feature, working through some bug fixes or tackling some technical debt. We roll-out frequent production deployments at The Key to make sure our members get the latest features and improvements as quickly as possible. I also pick up code reviews, work closely with colleagues and attend workshops with our Product, Content and UX teams. Then I’ll break for lunch and head outside, often over the road to a cafe for a "prato do dia'' before returning in the afternoon to continue coding. Additionally, we have fortnightly CPD afternoons, where we can explore a new technology of our choice.


What do you enjoy most about working at The Key?

It's a close call between the people and the work itself. I've made some great friends over the years and shared some very enjoyable times with colleagues. We also get to tackle some interesting and challenging projects, and it's always rewarding to help build products that make a real difference in schools.


What is the most unexpected thing that has happened to you while working at The Key?

I think the most unexpected thing that has happened to me was receiving a little Christmas present posted from England by The Key. The unexpected part was finding out that it was the third attempt at sending it and it had been returned to the sender twice already! I received an email from HR pleading that I keep an eye on my post in the coming days as there was something on the way and they were determined to have it get to me. I did receive it in the end - a big box of sweets - I was very grateful!


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