Senior software test engineer Mike O’Neill started working with Hawkes Learning through a college programming internship. He’s been part of the Hawkes family for five years now.
Throughout his time here, Mike has become skilled at the agile software development method, which emphasizes the practice of inspecting and adapting to incrementally assess where his work is at the moment and where he needs it to be in the future. He and his fellow engineers use this method to utilize their time as efficiently as possible to deliver exceptional tools and features. Below, Mike explains more about his work.
Q: What drives your work?
A: Quality. Always keeping students and instructors in mind while my team and I produce a new feature or improve an existing one is essential to developing a product of quality. It’s also good to know that the outcome of your work is helping people progress towards their own educational and professional goals. Reading success stories of students who always struggled, but were able to overcome these obstacles with the help of our courseware, always reminds me of the positive outcome our work has.
Q: What’s a typical day in the office like for you?
A: There is always so much going on from the various teams here. I am either preparing for the next feature that we will be working on or communicating with my own team members to make sure we are on track for what we are currently committed to. This could entail documenting bugs, removing impediments so we can keep pushing our progress, or communicating across teams.
Q: What is one of the tools you’re developing at the moment?
A: Right now, we are concentrating on the Question Builder feature. This is what instructors will use to create questions for WebTests or custom lessons, so we want to make sure it is robust and easy to use.
Q: About how long does it take to create a new feature or tool?
A: We work in two-week intervals. Our goal at the end of each two weeks is to have something that could potentially be released to our users. It’s always better to break features down into small, releasable pieces—regardless of how large the entire project is—so that incrementally, we can get feedback on each small aspect from users or employees who work directly with our users to make sure we are on the right track. It’s much better than working on a large feature for months or years on end, only to find that it doesn’t meet the instructor or student’s needs when it’s released.
Q: What is your job’s biggest commitment?
A: Reliability. I take pride in knowing that a feature we worked on and released to thousands of people works and works well. We strive for perfection, but when we hit a road bump, we use that as a learning experience so that we are always improving as a team.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Hawkes?
A: The people! It’s a privilege to work with such a diverse group of knowledgeable and pleasant people at Hawkes, as there are all kinds of personalities across different departments. It’s always interesting to see how people leverage their strengths and constantly improve as we work together for our common goal of student success.