How I was hired at Grafana

I explain the luck I had when landing a job at Grafana.

For the past couple of years I have spent my summers working at Grafana as a Software Engineer. The people there are amazing, and I feel like it is pure luck that I ended up there. I thought I'd tell the story about how I ended up there.

const tobias = new Person('Tobias Skarhed');

test('Tobias gets hired', () => {
const job = new Job('Grafana', 'Front End');
const interview = job.interview(tobias);
expect(interview.passed).toBe(true);
});

My situation#

Back in the spring of 2018 I was told how much I was going to pay in taxes. It was quite a high amount for someone in their early 20's. I needed to get a job for the summer so I wouildn't have to walk around the coming year worrying about the bottom line.

There was a problem. I didn't think about this until May, when applications for summer jobs usually close around february (for the big industrial companies). It was going to be a bit of a challenge.

I had about 14 months of prior experience with full time front end development. I had written some stuff with Ember and learned React/Redux entuirely on the job. I thought "Someone probably needs someone who can write React".

The opportunity#

For a couple of weeks I scoured the web for jobs to apply for. I sent and application to someone I had met at a networking event in Luleå. My friend Emil Tullstedt (Currently at Grafana), who worked at Tink at the time, told me to send one application there as well.

While browsing LinkedIn semi-casually, I saw that Emil had like a post by someone named Carl Berquist that said something along the lines of:

We're looking for a front end web developer

I messaged Carl and asked if they were looking for summer workers. He came back to me the next day and we scheduled the interview a couple of days later.

The interview#

This was a time before Grafana had some kind of HR or people working specifically with hiring. I think I only had one interview for that reason. Or maybe it was because a summer worker wasn't that much of a risky investment.

Three people interviewed me: Daniel Lee, Carl Bergquist and Leonard Gram. We talkied a little bit about my previous experience and what I studied.

They told me my initial work would be

  1. Converting Karma tests to Jest
  2. Converting Angular to React

There was a problem though. I didn't know Karma, Jest or Angular (I had only fiddled with it a little bit). But it didn't seem to worry them.

A couple of days later I got the contract, which pretty much only stated my start date and my salary. Let's just say that isn't the case any more.

I think the time from initial contact to signed contract was about a week. Pretty impressive.

After the first summer#

After the first summer I had successfully converted tests and removed Karma from the code base. Overall the people at Grafana seemed pleasantly surprised, which was new to me.

The thoughtful people at Grafana#

I have had a couple of conversations with Daniel, and he is always good at giving some input so it is possible to see the broader picture. He could probably one day end up being one of those managment people who post smart quotes on Twitter that makes everybody say "Wow, so true" or "How insightful!".

I asked Daniel at the end of the first summer, since taking me in was quite a bet: "What did you think when you hired me?"

Worst case scenario: we would have had one more person to eat lunch with.

I should probably print that on a T-shirt

Finally, I would like to share some wisdom Daniel shared with me:

In case you would happen to work somewhere else, remember that good people tend to stick together

Find the good people and stick around!