Early Career

Like any other phase, it’s a learning experience. Let’s do it.

~See Lemons Suit Up


30 Work Culture Activities

seelemonsonline : February 16, 2018 7:00 am : Early Career, Tech

Random Observation/Comment #599: Don’t just do what you love – work with cool people to do what you love.

Why this list?

What does it mean to love where you work? Is it just the people? The attitude? The free coffee? The bonding?

I’ve been on an incredible journey of joining r3 when it was a 20-person start up with a “Heads down, GSD (Get S#!T Done)” mentality, and growing to a 180+ global company within 2 years. The company is now driven with so much more than just a shared vision and mission – there’s trust, friendship, and true human capital.

Almost everything on this list is something our company has executed internally to build culture and an incredible work environment. Many thanks to Trixze for helping implement and make this my second home.

  1. Bar3 / blockchain beers – Recurring weekly internal and client-invited happy hour from 4:30-7pm to bond with coworkers and invite friends
  2. Company-wide Townhalls and stand-ups – Keep the whole company updated on our progress and mission
  3. Regional holiday parties – Of course!
  4. Open travel opportunities for client meetings or conferences
  5. Open slack channels around hobbies and group interests – #photography and #healthy-cooking are my new favorites
  6. Empowering individuals to create new initiatives like podcasts and videos
  7. Swag – Stickers, lab coats, t-shirts
  8. Team outings and team building exercises
  9. Mentorship programs
  10. New employee on-boarding activities and checklists
  11. Empowering individuals to teach and learn random hobbies or interests from colleagues (Yay photography course)
  12. Group 5k and marathon races
  13. Group charity events
  14. External facing meetups – join us for CordaCon in Tokyo! – https://www.corda.net/meetups/ 
  15. External newsletter highlighting employees and department achievements
  16. Internal newsletter highlighting office activities and events
  17. Monthly birthday and birthday cards
  18. Weekly work anniversary recognition
  19. Holiday bbq and get togethers outside of work
  20. Blockchain brainstorming recurring meetings and thought leadership
  21. Podcasts and recorded trainings
  22. Skunkworks groups on projects intersecting with different technologies like Google cardboard VR
  23. Poker night / Game night
  24. Contests for winning new office equipment like standing desks
  25. Movie night
  26. Speaker series – internal and external
  27. Sunday ingredients or theme based cooking challenge / Monday lunch taste testing
  28. Intraday trivia tests with awards at the end of day
  29. Naming competitions – for new office conference rooms, new projects, and new product offerings
  30. Corda-themed cakes and pastries (although you may need to travel to the London office for the authentic bakes)

~See Lemons Love Working at R3

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30 Organizing Meet up Tips

seelemonsonline : March 24, 2017 7:00 am : Early Career, Just Life, list of 30

Random Observation/Comment #576: There was a time when I lurked meetups around NYC to meet new interesting people and pick up women. The picking up of women didn’t work very well.

Why This List?

If you’re organizing meetups for your company around software or specific industry trends, it’s always a good idea to follow the lessons learned from some very experienced meetup organizers. Even if this list was available (because I’m sure plenty of people have written about it), I didn’t internalize it until I wrote the list myself. Thus is life.

  • Marketing
    1. Provide at least 3 weeks prior to the date of the event basics (hopefully you already have recurring venues booked)
    2. Set up reminders from the system or directly with 3 weeks, 1 week, and 72-48 hours before event. Have the reminder include more details or interesting facts.
    3. Tell people who else will be attending as people will be more inclined to join if there are opportunities to make connections during the networking
    4. Consider giving pre-reading material (but know that it will likely not be read)
    5. Consider telling people to bring their laptops! The focus of a technical meetup could be more hands-on coding
    6. Consider not doing a dial-in as this encourages more people to show up in-person
    7. If you have a global audience, consider buying a USB conference microphonehttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G2Y44ZK/ref=psdc_7073956011_t3_B00G57DFDG (Jabra)
    8. Even if you’ve created a meet-up signup, also create an outlook invite so people can see it on their work calendars (also, meet-up might be blocked on bank computers)
    9. Advertise on the correct internal and external calls
    10. Take photos during the event, but also use photos from previous events (if recurring)
    11. Think of contests with incentives
    12. Use a venue that is close to subway/metro stations if hosted in the city
    13. Encourage people to present their work
    14. When selecting the date of the meetup, never do weekends and never do events too early. Wednesday to Fridays are usually best days after 7PM and also check for conflicting days with any other major events
    15. Setup meetups where you’re not the main presenter, but a facilitator to bring others in the industry together. “Special Guests” are always cool.
    16. In the meet up page, be specific to the type of audience and material you’ll be covering
  • Important people to attend from your company
    1. General meeting logistics manager – someone that has some experience in this space and thinks about printing event signs and bringing tape
    2. Invite all people in your office if this is work related – Could also be a great group networking opportunity
    3. Salesperson – if your meet up is hoping to bring some broader interest of investers or potential partners, be sure to have the right internal representatives
    4. HR (or method of collecting interest) – we should keep track if people are interested in joining a dev team or at least working as partners
  • Day-of event
    1. Bring Music! Really awkward to not have any
    2. In the beginning, introduce the people from your organization in the room so they can start conversations during networking timespan
    3. Consider bringing name tags – suggest your name and “things to talk to me about”
    4. Spread out in networking events. Talk to new people and include others who are just on their phones
    5. Start the event with an Ice breaker or a raise of hands to gauge technical ability of the audience
    6. Depending on the size of the group, have people introduce themselves around the room and which company they’re from
  • Content (ordering of content)
    1. Try not to focus the presentations on the company in the beginning
    2. If this is a software pitch, make sure it’s explained with a short analogy for usage and latest developments
    3. If you have a demo, consider reversing the order: Analogy, Demo, Concepts, Call to Action
    4. Tangible project examples always resonate better

~See Lemons Organize Meetups

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30 Conference Go-er Tips

seelemonsonline : March 7, 2017 7:00 am : Early Career, list of 30

Random Observation/Comment #575: Conferences on the similar topics often have the same attendees. New location, same content, and same people.

Pretty Office Lens output

Why this list?

I attend 1-2 conferences every 2 months (they’re usually free if you offer to be on a panel). I’ve been told I do a pretty decent job covering these conferences by keeping up-to-date with business connections and taking notes on the main events. I’ve been asked “how” enough times to write some tips for fellow conference go-ers.

  1. Office Lens – this is a recent discovery, but really cool for taking photos of slides presented on screens and saving them (works on iOS, Android, and Windows)
  2. Set a goal of the optimal outcome – “I’ll be happy if I… Meet with this person and learn the latest on this project… Introduce myself to…”
  3. Review the attendees – Who do you want to connect with at the conference? A vendor?
  4. Look at who else is attending and familiarize yourself with the companies ahead of time – This will be useful when you’re socializing and see where people work
  5. Review the agenda diligently – Hopefully you’re going for a reason and not just to attend
  6. Don’t be ambitious with attending all the sessions – Quality over quantity
  7. Remember names – You’ll likely see the same people again if this becomes a recurring thing
  8. Practice your 2 sentence intro that provides info on your company, role, and relevant interest to the conference – sometimes “I’m here with <company> interested in exploring <technology use case>” can start a good conversation
  9. Figure out your company angle – People will bucket you and the company you represent as a vendor (selling something), user (buying something), or partner (for connections).
  10. Figure out your own angle – People will then judge you as being a tech person, meeting business filler, or decision maker
  11. Keep track of your own opinions to the conference because people will always ask “what do you think so far?”
  12. Write something interesting on your name tag – It’s a good way to start a conversation
  13. Make connections and introduce yourself randomly while getting coffee or food
  14. Notice other people’s name tags – Hopefully you’ve done your research and you don’t start with “What does your company do?”
  15. If it’s a multi-day conference, spend the first night writing follow up emails to the people you meet
  16. Bring a stack of business cards – It’s old school, but people still do it
  17. Hand out a business card if you mean you want to make a connection. If someone gives you one, then you can also return the favor (unless you’re running low)
  18. If the conference has a section for vendors, don’t just go and collect all the swag. Make sure you learn something about their company and provide a two-way street on your interest. If vendors ask for your card, then they think there’s a possible partnership or sale
  19. Lunch time is a good time to mingle – Join a random table and introduce yourself. There may be like minded attendees that can bring valuable connections
  20. If you want to see if someone is interested in connecting with your business, ask them for a time during the conference at a later time to connect – You can message them by email right away and see if they’ll spend 15-20 minutes going into more detail
  21. When listening to the presentations, sit near the large screens showing the slides so you can take photos of them. I also tend to sit near edges if I know I might leave early
  22. If you get presentation fatigue, take a break and drink some water. Just see the key takeaways
  23. Imagine you need to create 10 slides for the whole conference and write what’s relevant as well as take-aways. Hint: Photos help a lot
  24. Google Keep has a function to turn images you attach to text – Works really well on slides!
  25. If you’re at the event with a coworker, make sure you’re not taking duplicate notes. Divide and conquer!
  26. Take advantage of the location if your conference is somewhere fun! You’re allowed to do a touristy thing here and there (my blogpost in San Francisco)
  27. Bring a backpack and pack a charger – You’ll likely need one for all the notes you’re taking
  28. Go to workshops where possible – The tech attendees tend to talk more candidly if you ask the right questions and get on their passionate topics
  29. Always thank the organizer if you know or see them at the conference. Even if they don’t know you, you will represent the company well
  30. Call your significant other! I miss you and have a fun time.

~See Lemons Attend Conferences

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Finding the Right Candidate

seelemonsonline : February 24, 2017 8:00 am : Early Career

Random Observation/Comment #574: Believe in the team. If we wanted to pivot to any other technology, I’d bet that we’d likely see the same success.

Through a recent slew of conducting interviews, I’ve learned a lot more about my own standards of capability, drive, and trust. Mainly – my standards are pretty damn high. In each of the sections, I’ve thought of a series of tests meant to be answered in story format that can help me better understand the candidate.


While I don’t need a blockchain extraordinare, I do need someone who cares enough to spend a weekend doing their research and knowing the competitive space. I also firmly believe in transferable skills from previous life experiences.

  • Test 1- Current Events – What broader opinions have you formed about the industry based on your expertise?
  • Test 2- Presentation of known material – How clear are you at expressing your ideas? Do you use diagrams and visuals appropriately?
  • Test 3 – Applying your subject matter expertise to the core technology – What examples of projects would you want to lead and what role would you want to play in them? What previous skills can you apply to this position?


I have nothing against a 9-to-5 work hour – you do not need 80-hour weeks to be productive and add value to your company. I do specifically dislike the 9-to-5 mentality. I have not unplugged myself from this marketplace for years and I hope candidates feel the same fervor for learning and staying relevant to a rapidly changing space. At the moment, there is also less people and portfolio management, and more community building and project delivery.

  • Test 4 – History – How did you approach learning about this topic? What have you done in this space already?
  • Test 5 – Passion – What were you previously passionate about? What are you still researching and tying into current work?
  • Test 6 – Fit – Why do you want to work with us? What specifically about our organization makes it interesting? Why not a competitor in the same industry?


This is hard to test, but more of a gut feeling of the first two attributes. Trust has to do with execution of the capabilities and drive. It has to do with responsibilities and team fit. A lot of it is whether or not the candidate is interesting and has a personality to face our clients and our teammates.

  • Test 7 – Productivity – What productivity tips do you use daily? How do you prioritize tasks? How do you encourage operational efficiency?
  • Test 8 – Community – Which communities are you involved with and how do you contribute your strengths?
  • Test 9 – Free time – What is your most used phone app? What website do you visit third most and why?


The final test (Test 10) is really what questions you ask me. There should be hundreds. Those who ask for help and are curious about the industry dig up interesting points from an outsider’s perspective.

Who do I hire?

I’ve realized that I look for independent and creative thinkers that are passionate about the subject and not just moving for more opportunity. I pitch the hard parts about the job because I want people to reflect if they can take the move from corporate to a competitive start up space. We’re a community of autonomous leaders that are united in the mission and vision of our company. Contribute. Join us.

~See Lemons Keep Searching

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Achievements of All Types

seelemonsonline : August 20, 2016 10:00 am : Early Career, Just Life

Random Observation/Comment #559: Work towards something bigger, something broader, and something that involves more people. Community makes things better and stronger.


Achievements sometimes happen without planning, but sometimes they need a bit of intention and definition.  I’ve been sneaking “what is your greatest personal accomplishment?” into conversations in order to get a sense of what people are most proud of about their hard work. After a bit of analysis and mapping, I’ve found a few interesting bits.


  • Portfolio – Combination of bests
  • Competition – Some type of a comparison of head-to-head where you can be recognized for being better and winning something
  • Milestone – This includes packaged material of completed work like a book or album
  • Hobby to money maker / entrepreneurship – Converting something that you enjoy doing into a service or product someone else wants to purchase.
  • Learning a new skill – Going out of one’s comfort zone and learning something because it’s cool is a huge accomplishment. Don’t knock it until you try it.
  • Mastering a skill – Being able to do this one thing relatively better than the average person because you’ve spent the time trying
  • Experiences – Collection of these under a theme could be considered an achievement that requires dedication and work
  • Giving of life – Nourishing a growing /living thing is pretty incredible

The Medium of your achievement provides you with some guidance of starting or continuing your journey. Here are a few examples following those mediums.


  • Drawing book – A continual project of drawing things and improvement
  • Blog – Series of posts about a subject that accumulates into your brand of opinions. This can be career related on your linked in posts or just a separate site
  • Book – One subject from different angles with a structure that best expresses those ideas
  • Screenplay – A manuscript of ideas put together with creative writing
  • Music – Mashing together some songs or recording yourself singing a song
  • Physical – Yoga for a year or becoming an instructor. Running a marathon or completing a physical challenge of sorts
  • Sports – Being able to play something above normal and having fun in the meantime. Playing with friends and making friends in the process
  • Photography – Putting together a portfolio of your best work or getting to the point where you can make money by selling a photo
  • Starting a company – Structure of creating a service someone else wants and automating the operations so it can be sustainable and strategic
  • 30 day challenge – Complete an epic one that finishes all your side projects or starts new ones
  • Coding – Building an app or website isn’t that difficult. I’m sure you can follow a few tutorials and do this within a few months. Apps are great because you can use them for yourself
  • Travel to x countries or y continents – I find this one to be the most fun because it involves a hobby that most people take for granted. Leaving one’s home and stepping into a new culture is usually very difficult. Hopefully these travels contribute to other achievements like photos or blogging.
  • Collection of stamps – I know some people are very proud of attaining rare pieces which take a lot of work and research.
  • Organizing an epic event – “I threw a 50th anniversary party for my parents in Croatia” could be a really incredible accomplishment showing commitment, thoughtfulness, and dedication towards others.

These examples are fairly broad, but you can imagine your own relevant milestones or activities you wish you could recognize as an accomplishment.

It’s important to:

  • Limit scope – don’t try to do too many things at once. It’s okay to just do one for 2 months and switch rather than 3 at a time for 6 months. Focus!
  • Temper ambitions – these things take time. Like getting a new job, there are steps towards mastering skills and building work
  • Tie it to existing things – you don’t need to start from scratch. Try to tie things to your existing skill set
  • Know it’s not for the recognition – it’s for you and a compass for how to spend your free time.
  • Understand you won’t be the best at it – and that’s okay because there’s always someone better and life is more fun when it’s not a competition.
  • You are your own motivation – I stayed away from anything that included money because most people go to work because the company pays them. Not many people get paid from not being able to run a marathon into a top 100 runner.
  • Set up your discipline and routine – motivation is fleeting, but discipline gets things done. If you are really passionate about this, you will find time to do it.
  • Appreciate the journey – put yourself into the struggle of gaining discipline and learning the lessons the hard way. You’ll build character and appreciate your reward much more.

~See Lemons Do More

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Actions of the Day Part 2

seelemonsonline : June 29, 2016 7:00 am : 30 Day challenges, Early Career, list of 30

Random Observation/Comment #554: Spending 5 minutes a day working on a small project leads to a fairly sizable project after 3 months. Routines are quite amazing things.

actions of the day

Challenge Set Up

Continuing the first part of Actions of the Day, I decided to do a follow-up that combines actions with questions related to careers. I posted these on FB and Twitter as Actions of the Day (AotD) and encourage others to complete the action as well.

Why This Challenge?

I started a new “career adventure” (which is what the cool kids are calling jobs these days) and I wanted to take the opportunity to reinvent myself and make a good impression. I think I did this at my previous workplace, but it was hard to maintain for 6 years.

  1. AotD #52: Write a list of your job responsibilities – are you doing what you were hired for?
  2. AotD #53: Learn your organization’s business strategy. How does the company make money and hope to adjust to evolving technology?
  3. AotD #54: What unique value in terms of strength, experience, perspective, and expertise do you bring to your company/group?
  4. AotD #55: Write down your list of Mentors and goto contacts. Goto contacts are professional connections that know a particular space very well and act as your goto for Q&A. What do you offer?
  5. AotD #56: Set up catch up time with your manager. How can he/she help you reach your goals?
  6. AotD #57: Review your existing organization system. What can you improve to make things more easily accessible?
  7. AotD #58: Review your digital storage organization. How are your folders structured on your work and personal laptop? Is everything easy to find?
  8. AotD #59: Review your digital collaboration tools. How are you sharing your content and incorporating feedback?
  9. AotD #60: Review your digital distractions. What apps can you uninstall to form better productive habits?
  10. AotD #61: Listen to your team. What do they need from you?
  11. AotD #62: If you work with tech/computers, learn the underlying architecture and data connectivity. What does the application take for input, add as value, and output?
  12. AotD #63: Learn about a different part of the company. How does it contribute to the bigger strategy?
  13. AotD #64: Align your short term goals with your group. What does success look like?
  14. AotD #65: Celebrate a team member’s accomplishment. What can you celebrate today?
  15. AotD #66: Write a thank you email to a client to follow-up. What did you learn from the quick catch up?
  16. AotD #67: Have coffee with someone on your team and talk about something not related to work. What do you have in common with this person?
  17. AotD #68: Lead by example. What is leadership to you?
  18. AotD #69: Create your comfort zone and healthy productive work environment. What makes you work hard and block all distractions out?
  19. AotD #70: Reflect on your professional accomplishments. What is your biggest achievement and what did you learn from it?
  20. AotD #71: List your top 5 people you’d ask advice about for your career that is not your immediate family. What are these people up to lately, and how can you help them?
  21. AotD #72: Reflect on your personal accomplishments. What skills can you bring from these successes into your professional world?
  22. AotD #73: Focus an hour on your hobby. What is the next milestone or deliverable?
  23. AotD #74: Map your hobbies into a matrix labeling the high/medium/low contributions to social, wellness, creativity, career-related, and cost of adoption. Are there hobbies you can remove or add?
  24. AotD #75: Dive deeper into your company’s sector and consider emerging technologies that can disrupt or assist. What’s the world going to look like in 3 years?
  25. AotD #76: Identify the risks in your project. How do you mitigate these risks?
  26. AotD #77: Identify the opportunities for improvement. What can you capitalize on?
  27. AotD #78: This morning, start emails on all the tasks you need to get done by the end of the day. Be sure to send all these emails and their corresponding results before you leave work.
  28. AotD #79: Practice the pitch for “What do you do?” Think of how you would explain it to different people with different backgrounds in your field.
  29. AotD #80: Practice your elevator summary of your recent accomplishments to your manager or your manager’s manager. What have you contributed?
  30. AotD #81: Set realistic goals for your work. Pace the intermediate milestones.
  31. AotD #82: Make a mission to learn everyone’s name and one sentence about them. How many people know you and identify you with the qualities you want to be known for?
  32. AotD #83: Identify a bad habit you’d like to change. What change, in the ordering of tasks or mindful control, can be added to stop these habits?
  33. AotD #84: Imagine you had a meeting with your company’s C-suite (e.g. CEO, COO, CTO). What would you present about?
  34. AotD #85: From yesterday’s action, bring that idea to your management and get feedback. How can you refine your talk to be relevant for long term strategy.
  35. AotD #86: Semi-relevant to career. Draw something on a napkin. What did you draw? Is it related to your career?
  36. AotD #87: Add some entropy to your daily routine by taking a different route to work. What did you see that was inspiring?
  37. AotD #88: Put yourself in your coworkers shoes. How are you performing?
  38. AotD #89: Post something on LinkedIn that is related to your industry. What is your subject matter expertise?
  39. AotD #90: Review your peers. If they are “more successful,” think about what they’re doing differently. Is it their network, expertise, or specific opportunities?
  40. AotD #91: Identify your special sauce. What can you do that only you can do?
  41. AotD #92: Keep a section just for ideas. You should bake these out before they are shared with your team. Is this idea worth prioritizing?
  42. AotD #93: Consider reporting and summaries. How can you represent your small data and draw conclusions from it?
  43. AotD #94: Say “no” today. Stop taking on new work. Are you spread too thin?
  44. AotD #95: Find your inner bitch. Nice people don’t finish last in love, war, and business. Who is competing?
  45. AotD #96: Recommend an article in your industry. What was the article about?
  46. AotD #97: Take a step back and let inspiration grow. The most fruitful ideas need time. How did the idea change?
  47. AotD #98: Double up your networking and catchups with picking up lunch with your mentor or mentee. What did you eat nearby?
  48. AotD #99: Recognize good colleagues and coworkers. Small actions like short messages showing appreciation go a very long way. Who can you follow up with?
  49. AotD #100: Set a goal that involves 100 things and do it. Achievement unlocked. What was your last unlocked achievement?
  50. AotD #101: Put your phone down and look around because you might be walking into someone that could change your life.

What’s Next?

I still love creating Actions of the Day, and I think I’ll keep going forward with it during weekdays. I think if I do some reordering and reorganization, I could create actions related to different aspects of career advancement. Some topics/categories could include: Networking, Understanding, Branding, Expertise, Organization, and #WorkHacks.

~See Lemons Continuously Active

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[Lessons Learned] Running a Corporate Intern Program

seelemonsonline : June 24, 2016 7:00 am : Early Career

Random Observation/Comment #553: Pay attention to your employees and make sure they’re happy. A few emails of recognition can save a whole lot of money losing talent and rehiring.

henry running

After 5 years of running the intern program at Credit Suisse and reporting on Lessons Learned in iconic reflective blog posts each year (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), I think it makes sense to share how a successful intern program operates.

Why an Intern Program?

There have been enough books written about the topic of selective hiring that it’s fairly obvious innovation and culture comes from the people (not some management or leadership style). “Target” schools and prospective students are being approached/groomed through hackathons and aggressive HR recruiting engagement programs.

To beat other competitors to the hiring mark, companies implement pipelines for converting interns to full-times at earlier paces. This is mainly because work experience with real life projects is much more valuable than abstract university-based exercises.

The intern program essentially becomes a 10-week 2-way interview between the company’s groups and the students. It’s structure and organization is crucial for pushing the reputation and brand of the your company.

Before you Begin: Organization / Resources

  • Sponsor – someone needs to fund your program and help you reach out to the right partners. Sometimes the sponsor is a governance board, which is created to overlook most hiring efforts
  • Partnership with HR – the intern program is usually run by HR with their hiring budget, but the specific projects that make the internship meaningful are usually hosted by a program lead
  • Partnership with line managers – line managers ultimately provide requests to hire interns and full times, but for the project, they are also the source of all project ideas and those individual SMEs.
  • Program lead – it helps the individual projects when the program lead is not a part of HR and knows some of the projects from a high level. This person monitors the health and delivery across the projects and pitches to line managers to gain traction on milestones
  • Project leads – a program lead can’t do all the work for each project, so it makes sense to get specific project leads that have some level of expertise in the chosen projects in this space. These leads might flesh out the scope of the project in a strategic way (as with a product or business analyst role), but ultimately they are making sure the time period for the interns are most effectively used

Necessary Prep Work:

  • Project ideas collection process – your line managers are responsible for sending in ideas where they can specifically delegate 1 or 2 SMEs for some “free” resources
  • Project selection process – we created a set of principles and weighted values to evaluate each project, which included: alignment to business, technology interest, feasibility of timeline, support from management, and relevance to finance
  • Project initial analysis – the scope of the project and some of the design analysis needs to be done by the project lead of the specific project in order to reach a successful conclusion. Even when we had devoted business analysts to projects, we wanted to give them a head start to the initial design (similar to an outline of a university project that they’re used to instead of just saying “build whatever you want”)
  • Hiring manager buy-in – managers need to provide SMEs to handhold some of the interns in completing their work


  • Daily project lead stand-ups – project leads should catch up with each group of 4-5 interns on this project. they are there to guide the outputs.
  • Weekly updates with program lead – program lead should also meet all the interns and help do some introductions to the group, but let the project leads raise any escalations
  • Presentation to business – the deliverable of the 8-10 week intern project is usually some presentation to the business side of things. It’s a nice way to tie a bow on the project and ensure hand-off

General Best Practices

  • When pitching the projects to interns, make sure you emphasize how it’s all real work that will be picked up by teams afterwards. No one wants to do throw-away work.
  • Emphasize a full “Software Development Life Cycle” (SDLC) where you’re building from a design and doing the full testing and best practices along the way
  • Pick your project leads wisely. I specifically sourced all my project leads from interns who became full-time employees. This is much easier to manage because you help first-year employees immediately sit on the other side of the intern table.
  • Give credit where credit is due. As a program lead, your middle management role is to make everyone look good and feel good.
  • The final presentation needs a slide on “Lessons Learned.” It’s essential for hiring managers to see that your interns have learned something from real world projects
  • Encourage interns to take the opportunity to learn the company and meet more people. They are not there to do the work full time developers or analysts are doing. I think they will more likely join when they get treated with respect.
  • Provide all interns with a personalized exit interview. Before the intern program is over and decisions on made for providing full time positions, be sure to sit one-on-one with each intern and ask them 1 question: “Pretend this is the interview for your next job. ‘Oh, I see you were an intern last year at Credit Suisse. What did you do and what did you learn?'” At the end of the day, the internship will become a 2 minute pitch at an interview, so be sure to get them ready for it. The output of that interview will ultimately also make these interns represent your company brand in the long run. First impressions matter.

~See Lemons Miss my Interns

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30 Milestone Questions

seelemonsonline : May 15, 2016 7:00 am : Early Career

Random Observation/Comment #550: Time-boxing commitments and projects creates the urgency for reaching milestones of change.


Why this List?

What a feeling it is to reach a big milestone! Milestones keep you honest on timing, but more importantly, give you something to celebrate. Do your happy dance. Done? The next step is crucial: review and learn from your milestone. Notice that this isn’t just a lessons learned of a full project or sprint, this is a retrospect of success. Notice that these do not just apply to career projects, but also with relationships of all types. Here are some questions I ask myself, the team, and the bigger community (bolded the important ones):

  1. What are our strengths?
  2. What’s working?
  3. What’s not working?
  4. What do we want?
  5. What do our clients/others want?
  6. What are we going to get when we get what we want?
  7. What tweaks do we want to make?
  8. Who should be involved?
  9. Should they be involved earlier?
  10. What’s the next milestone?
  11. What artifacts can you keep from your milestone?
  12. What artifacts can become templates?
  13. How can others learn from these successes?
  14. What could have gone wrong?
  15. How do we mitigate these risks going farther?
  16. What micro-goals can we create to encourage better collaboration?
  17. Is transparency and communication an issue?
  18. Operationally, are ideas brought up in a clear way?
  19. Does the group understand the long term strategy?
  20. Is your long term strategy still relevant given the results?
  21. Is there a gap in knowledge for your team that should be learned or shared?
  22. Do you need to hire a specific skill set to round out the group?
  23. What was the most difficult part?
  24. Are there more than one blockers that you need to address for long term?
  25. What was the most surprising part?
  26. Who should be recognized from the group?
  27. Can you present this success at a conference or meeting to recognize the participants?
  28. Can you summarize this success in an elevator pitch or deck slide for others to use?
  29. Has your team built a pattern of success?
  30. Is everyone in the team happy?

~See Lemons Reach Milestones

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30 Things in the First 30 days

seelemonsonline : April 15, 2016 7:00 am : Early Career

Random Observation/Comment #548: Relish the fresh start and nail the first impression.


Why this list?

I haven’t “started over” at a new company for 6 years. Sure, I meet people all the time through networking and can hold my own conversations, but working somewhere is like being adopted into a new family. Other families may have liked you for “being a good influence,” but only parents know the extent of crazy and trouble.

How to write this list:

Think of what you do different on your first date when you’re on your “best behavior.” Think of who you think they hired and describe that person’s attributes. Think from your manager’s perspective, and pay attention to what they’d use to determine your value. How do you add value?

  1. “Hit the ground running” – bring value as soon as possible
  2. Bring your strengths, expertise, and perspective from your previous experiences
  3. Find and befriend a mentor
  4. Open up to a certain extent with small talk that reveals more about your values and paints a personality around your fun activities
  5. Build trust with deliverables and action
  6. Grab coffee with the team and be friendly (get to know them and all their names/backstories with interest)
  7. Come up with a list of questions and figure out who or how you can find the answer (Hint: Ask your mentor)
  8. Create your comfort zone and work environment
  9. Baseline your expectations
  10. Go on a team outing as early as possible (take the initiative to start this if needed with a coffee-chat or away-from-desk lunch)
  11. Set up catch-up time with your manager on a bi-weekly basis to have an honest conversation about your progress
  12. Align your short term goals with your group
  13. Learn about the group’s middle and long term strategies
  14. Understand the general Org structure of the company
  15. Keep your content organized and share this organization with your group
  16. Suggest minor individual productivity improvements with your colleague
  17. Spread good rumors and opinions about the team
  18. Listen to the team
  19. Understand the business drivers and driving forces of your organization
  20. Bring up skepticism strategically and after additional research
  21. Ask about the underlying technology and architecture
  22. Ask about the history and evolution of the company
  23. Ask for documentation and read everything
  24. Put in the hard work and extra hours
  25. Lead by example
  26. Build a brand around your uniqueness that people won’t forget and can come to ask you for advice
  27. Help where you can (work across multiple teams)
  28. Document and reflect on your progress
  29. Write a comprehensive weekly update for your team to highlight successes, next steps, and blockers (this helps your manager’s job and points out overlapping work quickly)
  30. Send out a badass introduction about yourself

Here’s mine omitting the professional boring piece:

On the personal side, Clemens is an avid blogger (seelemonslive.com), frequent traveler (39 countries and counting), restaurant reviewer (yelp elite, google local guide), published author (lifeinlistsof30.com), TEDx organizer, wedding photographer, table tennis fanatic (Spin NY and competitions), and list maker. He’s been known as a productive optimist and technology philosopher who gives great high fives.

~See Lemons Already Running

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Lessons Learned from Corporate

seelemonsonline : March 4, 2016 10:00 am : Early Career

Random Observation/Comment #545: It’s never an easy decision to switch jobs when you’re happy, you’re growing, and you truly see your colleagues of 6 years as family.

in loving memory

Then why the switch?

For me, it’s all about risk. My view of risk has not only evolved into a scarier nagging monster whispering in my ear before I sleep (not my wife, for the record), but also multiplied into all types of monsters; Health, status quo, bills, and relationships all pressure me to be more social and adaptive to a responsibility-based landscape. It’s not only my own world, but a complex matrix of people I can affect with any one decision.

Anyway, it was all too simple. It needed some hot sauce and experimental salad dressing to push me forward in my diet of life. Entropy is the spice of life. In my travel years of bad idea bear adventures (don’t worry, these years are not over yet), I realized I thrived being outside of my comfort zone. I discover and grow best when stretched to my abilities in a realm of uncertainty. This next adventure is the same embrace of change.

Years of managing interns and learning from my early career, has lead to this summary page of early career advice. This post, however, is the reflection of all those concepts in a less than 30 list.

What did I learn?

  • Know the rules of the game – no matter the industry or your expertise, it’s always important to learn what you don’t know if it’s essential to the business. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult Subject Matter Experts, but you shouldn’t raise your hands and say “this isn’t my job to know this.” This is why one must always build expertise in their area.
  • Take advantage of being in a large company – an email address goes a long way. Most people are open to soft introductions like “Hey, I see you’re an alumnus of <institution>. Do you have time for coffee this week?”
  • Build trust with all levels in your team – trust comes from action-based reputation, so make sure you work with your team, spread good rumors, and be the last to complain.
  • Be your manager’s friend – set up bi-weekly meetings to catch up on career goals and things outside of work. Also, definitely participate in the happy hour drinks and scheduled coffee chats.
  • Make your manager look good – the easiest way to help your manager is by making it easy for him/her to identify what  you’re contributing to the team. Directly help them with their tasks and offer well thought-out ideas.
  • Do work outside what has been asked of you – this is the essence of innovation. When a team member takes initiative to provide outside expertise on a project, they will likely be encouraged to continue their lines of thought. I’ve often asked groups that interact with mine about their platinum projects so I could learn more about how those initiatives overlap.
  • Build a list of sponsors – Above and beyond your single line of management, you’ll need a group of people pulling you up and representing you at the table during promotions. This only happens when people know who you are and your brand comes with hard work and solid deliverables.
  • Attend events and meet people from work while outside of work – If you just go to work to clock-in and clock-out, you’re missing another world of team growth and trust building. It’s also extremely important to know who works in which area – you never know when you’ll help or be helped by someone you met at an event.
  • Keep track of a GO-TO list – Based on your interactions through different projects, it’s always good to know who has the answers. When your group ultimately needs to coordinate with other groups, this Rolodex of names and roles will be extremely important.
  • Do your homework and Share your knowledge – a lot of people protect their ideas so they can get credit for it at a crucial moment. I feel like if you have a good idea, make sure you do your work to know for sure it’s a good idea, and then bring it up to your management. There’s really no down side to providing feedback or showing you’re invested in the project’s direction/results.
  • Understand the architecture landscape – know the different types of system setups and their technology stacks. The “architecture simplification” projects are often telling of the long term strategy of the firm’s IT investment.
  • Understand the business landscape – know who supports which side of the business and how they make money
  • Understand the hierarchy of management – with experience also comes the need to know who ultimately holds the decision-making power. Knowing names of the leads in your group also ultimately helps other pin-point where you fit in the organization.
  • Always follow-up and stay in touch – it’s a very small world and you’ll never know when and where doors can open

~See Lemons Look Forward

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