Congratulations! The hard work you’ve put in and perseverance you’ve shown over the past few years has paid off. Now the fun begins (and I don’t just mean a summer of post-exam partying, though that’s a lot of fun, too).
Amongst the myriad transitions you’re making is one that doesn’t often get mentioned in commencement speeches: you’re about to go from being a student to being a teammate. Even if you worked on dozens of group projects in school, you’ll find that working on a professional software team is different. Really different. And in a good way.
Chiefly, you’ll be able to accomplish far more with your team than you ever could on your own.
We often celebrate the “lone genius” because they’re not only accomplished, but highly visible. It’s easy to forget that they don’t work alone. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have massive teams of engineers, designers, and advisors helping bring their visions to life. Derek Jeter, Steph Curry, and Misty Copeland are surrounded by teams that include coaches, trainers, and doctors, in addition to their fellow athletes. Even musical acts like Taylor Swift and Lorde have teams behind them: sound engineers, producers, and other musicians who support them in the studio and on the stage.
Talk to anyone in any industry and they’ll tell you that the best work of their lives was (or is) as part of a team.
My first professional team was a team of two. Just me and my best mate, Mike Cannon-Brookes. When we graduated in 2001, most programming jobs in Sydney were at banks, which was a bit too buttoned-down for our tastes. We figured if we could code for a living without having to wear a tie, that’d be pretty sweet. So we teamed up and started a company.
Now our team has grown to over 2000 Atlassians. Developers, designers, customer support engineers, accountants, recruiters… you name it. They are talented, dedicated, delightfully weird, and together we’re building something I’m truly proud of. Something bigger than the products we make. Together, we’re proving that trust, transparency, empathy, and collaboration are the currency of the modern workplace. There’s no way I could do this on my own. Not in a hundred lifetimes.
Being a great developer means being a great teammate. Life-long learning, humility, courage (including the courage to humbly accept critiques), and openness are every bit as important as being a killer coder. “Soft” skills like these will complement the technical skills you learned in school.
The energy and fresh perspective computer science graduates bring each year is an indispensable asset to the tech industry. We’ve got a million dreams to turn into reality, and only one lifetime to do it in. Welcome!
P.s.: Atlassian is hiring! A lot. Check out atlassian.com/careers to learn more.
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