QChat from 30,000 feet

2010.08.21 in code, personal, and qualcomm

Ed.: the majority of this was written on the plane from San Diego to JFK, and then emailed to the QChat client dev list (plus a few extras)

Almost exactly three months ago, I boarded a plane from Burlington to San Diego, solo, entirely unsure of what lay ahead. I'd been to San Diego before — for a few hours — and I'd heard only good things about it from people who live in the area, but beyond that, nothing. I knew that I would be interning at Qualcomm, writing embedded software — that was about all I knew beforehand; I had yet to be introduced to QChat, and I certainly hadn't met anyone I would be working with.

My second day (the first was consumed with intern orientation activities, and discovering that I had to walk 2 miles to work and back every day) was filled with introductions to everyone, which, being as shy as I generally am, was expected to be as intimidating as could be. But as soon as they started, it was clear something was different here. From Ali, the first QChatter who I met, who toured me around and helped me get settled in, to Vikram, who I didn't meet until many weeks into my internship, as he was on vacation when I arrived, everyone was ridiculously friendly, approachable, and helpful.

I've worked with many teams of varying shapes, sizes, and purposes before (though less often in the real world), and the QChat client team is unquestionably the first to be this universally awesome. Throughout the whole summer, there was a complete lack of raised voices (except in laughter and jest), blame-laying (I think I was the worst offender there, because I wasn't totally used to the laid-back workflow yet), and argument — which made it extremely easy to quickly become comfortable with the group and the atmosphere and get to work.

I might have gotten too comfortable — after being here for three months, I felt so much like a part of the team that yesterday's departure was quite hard to bear. Unfortunately I didn't manage to find everyone (Shobha, Sachin, Sanket, and Vikram, at least, and Teja was still on vacation — so an extra goodbye and thank you to all of you) to say goodbye to, but if I'd hung around for much longer, there would have been a few tears, and we didn't need that.

I won't miss fighting with the ever so wonderful prototype handsets, nor cursing the engineer who thought that using the C escape character as their path separator was a good idea (or that you needed two characters to represent a newline — basically, I won't miss Windows), nor silly little things like timecards, but the list of things that I will miss is innumerable. The whole team, for starters — every single one of you. The spirit of QChat. The long walks in the San Diego sunshine into work every morning. The daily status meetings (you guys will think I'm crazy, but I was already missing these when they stopped halfway through — it was good to see everyone every day and get a handle on what was going on in the beginning of the day; I learned a lot about what we were doing just from listening to the chatter there, and I hope if you have another intern next summer, you'll do daily status at least for the first few weeks). I'll miss our little faraday cage, and the wonders of release days. So, so many things.

I think the moment it all really clicked for me was that one super long (4 AM) sanity day. I think it was my third or fourth release; hanging out with everyone just trying to finish up (through the USB hilarity that ensued that everyone who was there surely remembers); ordering Indian food (my first time!) and being introduced to that by the people who know it best (by the way, the countless anecdotes about home from everyone makes me feel almost obligated to visit India... someday!)

And then on the opposite end of that was Shilpa's goodbye lunch — the end of the team as I knew it for most of the summer, and the first realization that the summer really was coming to a close. It was certainly a bonding experience for me; a chance to hang out with a majority of the team and talk about anything but work. I think that was actually one of my favorite days of the summer, bittersweet though it was.

So... I don't know. Maybe I'll run in to some of you again; it seems incredibly unlikely that I'll run in to all of you again. If I end up back in San Diego, I'll be sure to look you guys up, and if any of you are ever in Albany, Burlington, or Boston, send me a note! You never know where I might be...

And who knows what might happen in May! I certainly don't...

Thanks for everything, and goodbye (for now), and good luck!