on building a better product + team

8th April 2013

dear debbie the developer,

welcome to the dev team! forgive me as i assume a couple things of you:

  1. you love to code.
  2. you love empty calendars because they let you code all day without interruption.

together, our dev team codes a ton as we grow our product into a better product. we craft new experiences, tackle challenging problems, and imagine better worlds as a result of our efforts. from this perspective, it is clear how coding at khan academy will bring us from here to there.

at khan academy,
you will not, however, code 24-7.
*gasp!*

this is because you have not one but two goals:

  1. build a better product (yay, probably lots of coding!)
  2. build a better team (???)

the two are obviously related. a team of 0 can build nothing. a team of 1 (cue: sal) can build the initial version of khan academy. that early version of khan academy worked wonders for people, and our bigger team today can do even more. at this moment, we’re working on 1) redesigning the entire learning experience, 2) i18n, 3) growth, 4) analytics, 5) coach+class+community, 6) and many more facets of the same vision. sal is amazing, but even he can’t do all of this by himself.

in order to grow a better team, we commit significant blocks of time to hiring great people (like you!). we try to do it all, from repping khan academy at conferences to meeting up with potential candidates to reviewing resumes to interviewing candidates. it is not a distraction from our work because it is our work.

after we hire great people, we continue to invest time in making everyone greater. i hope you find that it is a continuous and glorious swirl of teaching + learning. code reviews share lessons and build relationships within the team. we explicitly mentor interns to absorb them more happily + less chaotically. and aside from the formal stuff, everyone is naturally super nice, and i’ve never felt like i couldn’t ask a question to learn more. again, all of this takes time, but it is time well spent.

our team at khan academy is special, and i hope you now see how you are not (only) a code monkey.

sincerely,
marcia

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