A Day At Square

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I work at Square as a Senior iOS Engineer and here’s what a typical day looks like for me.

 Sunrise – 6AM-7:30AM

I usually get up at 6am, brush my teeth, feed my pets and jump in my car to get to work around 6:30am. I don’t usually eat anything nor make coffee because I’ll get those in the office. I live in Hayward, California and the commute to San Francisco is 27 miles. This usually takes 1 to 2 hours driving in a gas car, or about 1 hour in a low-emissions vehicle. This is because low emissions vehicles are allowed to take the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes and skip much of the traffic. I recently switched my car for an electric car and saved myself 30-60 minutes a day. I could also take the BART and the trip is about 45 minutes, but it does take extra time to get to the BART station and parking the car.

Below is a timelapse video of my commute.

The video above was shot with a GoPro Hero 7 Black, in 2.7K 60fps with stabilization mode on.

 Morning – 7:30AM-12PM

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Stock photo of our coffee bar, catered by AndyTown – not a micro-kitchen, coffee at the coffee bar is actually $2 but I prefer free coffee :)

I get to the office typically at 7:30am. We’re located at 1455 Market St in San Francisco and I typically park my car in the office garage. If I get in before 8am then the fee is $17 for the day. It’s a little more expensive than a monthly subscription but I don’t go to the office every day so this ends up being cheaper.

When I walk into the office I always get my coffee from one of the micro-kitchens and start working right away. I’ll usually resume work I didn’t finish the day before, typically fixing a bug or investigating an issue, or building a new feature.

At 8am breakfast is served on the 9th floor. It’s pretty good, it’s usually scrambled eggs, bacon, either pancakes or French toast, some fruit, and more. It takes me about half an hour and then I go back to my desk and work until 11:15am when. My morning is the time when I’m the most effective and get the most done. I also use this time to delete most email I got the previous night and reply to anything important.

At 11:15am is the daily standup. It lasts just 15 minutes and that’s when the team meets up and we go around and each person shares their updates, what they’re working on, and ask for help.

There’s just about 30 minutes after standup before lunch starts and that’s usually too little for me to get back into what I was doing. I’ll typically just sift through emails and think about where I’ll have lunch.

 Lunch – 12PM-1PM

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Stock photo of our cafeteria (I’m not allowed share photos I take myself)

Square has multiple lunch places within its office. The 9th floor is the main cafeteria, which typically serves chicken and beef with variations. We also have a sandwich shop catered by Wise Sons, which usually serves 3-4 types of sandwiches and they change every day. We now also have a “Spice Bowl” place that serves food-in-a-bowl, so typically Poke or Bulgogi. Finally we also have a place called “Lev” that serves Mediterranean food like Shawarma.

Square charges us $10 for the meal and obviously we pay with our cards on a Square register! Square then reimburses us that meal in our paycheck, minus taxes. So depending on your tax bracket that might vary but taxes on the lunch are usually around $3 for most people.

 Afternoon – 1PM-4PM

On a lucky day I’ll have no meetings in the afternoon and will just spend the whole time focused on my work. I’m currently leading a project so that never happens, I always have meetings with various stakeholders and other teams to help synchronize the effort, check on progress, ask questions, etc. People also come to my team and myself for help all the time, and I go to other teams for help that I need.

I work on the iOS point-of-sale, which is the Square iPad and iPhone app. It’s the software merchants use to check you out at their store – See photo below.
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As a random example, the first feature I built when I joined Square in January 2018 was a little label on the custom tipping screen. After you pay, the app will ask you if you want to leave a tip. You may choose “Custom Amount” and type any amount you like. The feature I created shows you the percentage of tip you’re leaving when you’re typing the custom tip amount. So if your bill was $100 and you type $10, the label will show “10%”.

As an iOS engineer, I write code mostly in Objective-C using a tool from Apple called Xcode.

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The above is a screenshot of Xcode, but it’s not an actual screenshot of my work at Square because I can’t share that sorry :) (also that’s Swift and not Objective-C, but close enough).

We are over 50 iOS engineers working on this app and we’re divided into many teams that focus on different aspects of the app. My team own “Card-on-File” functionality. This is used by merchants who will keep your card on file and bill you without needing to swipe your card again. However at the moment we’re working on a few projects that don’t have much to do with this.

At 4pm is when I leave the office. Since I get in around 7:30, I also leave early. My coworkers make a great effort to ensure that no meetings are planned to end beyond 4pm. Leaving at 4pm allows me to reduce my commute time by maybe half an hour because there’s less traffic. Because it takes time to get to my car, maybe visit the restrooms, and more, it’s usually around 4:30 by the time I drive out of the garage and I’ll get home between 5:30pm and 6pm.

 Home – 6PM-11:30PM

Once home, the first thing I do when I walk in is drop off my shoes and pick up my baby daughter Camelia! I’ll take her around the neighborhood, to the playground, or to the supermarket for grocery shopping. We then get back home and it’s time for her to get dinner, time for me to cook dinner, and more pet caring and house cleaning.

Once everyone has had dinner, we have a last chance to go out for fun and typically I’ll take Camelia out while my wife does some more house cleaning, or we’ll just go all together to get an after-dinner snack or dessert.

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We get back home by 7:30pm or 8pm and that’s when I put Camelia to bed. I feed her milk and by 9pm she’s asleep. Now is my chance to do my share of the house chores. After 9pm is when electricity rates go down so that’s when I’ll do the laundry. I may also clean the floors, clean the kitchen, bathrooms and more. At 10pm is when most things are done and I have time for myself. That’s when I get a shower, work on some side projects and I’m in bed by 11:30pm.

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