01/31/2014 07:32 pm ET Updated Apr 02, 2014

My Time as a HuffPost Labs Fellow: Week 1

I happily moved down to NYC this week to join the Huffington Post team as a Labs Fellow. With 6 other colleagues the small, wonderfully sarcastic team has the unique responsibilities of feeding new talent into the established engineering team, providing internet evangelism of HuffPost engineering, editing the HuffPost Code blog, and turning out their own products when time allows. It's taken nearly my entire first week here to understand the fluid identity that HuffPost Labs tries to maintain and how I fit into it.

Now I know that I am here to execute some small projects for HuffPost Labs, explore new technologies and languages, and choose a mentor who's team I will eventually join. In pursuit of those ends, the structure of the first week has been extremely open and self-determined. It reminds me of being at Bard College - you get out whatever you put in - and that suits me well.

During this first week, I've split my time between equal parts programming and meeting other engineers at Huffington Post. Every engineer here is friendly and happy to talk to me about their projects. It's clear that HuffPost takes personality into account when choosing their engineers. I've felt comfortable approaching everyone from the junior engineers, the VP of Engineering, and the CTO - who happily shared his feelings on current hot technologies: Node, Go, and the-old-is-new-again Scala. Of the team leads I met with, I'm most interested in working with the HuffPost Live team. They are focused on front-end web development and don't shy away from using the right framework or language for the problem even it's outside their comfort zone. As someone extremely new to the field- I've been writing javascript for just a year- I'm trying to take steps to drastically expand my understanding of web technologies and even add a few more languages to my toolbox.

While programming this week I've gotten to refine some JavaScript patterns and touch on Python web development. I've been building a fun landing page for Labs, which I've turned into an exercise in building a single page website using a Model-View-Controller architecture without the support of any frameworks except jQuery. This site needs to hook into a few API endpoints on the backend. As the backend is currently built in Python, I got to jump head-first into writing a few routes in Python for that server.

Compared to any other paid position I've held, I feel like I'm being treated like royalty here. I've been given a MacBook Pro and Apple Cinema Display for use during my time here. I didn't have to justify my purchase of a few pieces of software the first day, either. In true tech job fashion the first week has been full of free food, infinite amounts of coffee, one Thursday beer break, and one open bar night. Standing desks seem to be the only thing denied to Labs Fellows, but I've found that the high tables in the kitchen are roughly the right height for me.

My time as a Fellow lasts roughly three months. As the weeks go by I hope to take a bite out of Scala, learn Angular, build out a front-end virtual environment in Docker or Vagrant, contribute to the backbone codebases here, produce the landing page for the HuffPost Labs team, and continue to get to know every one of these awesome engineers. I'll be sure to chronicle the rest of my time here in between programming and more reading.