Opinions & Insights
Meet our Netlifolks: Hrishikesh Kokate, Senior Support Engineer
For Hrishikesh Kokate, Senior Support Engineer here at Netlify, Support is more than answering emails all day. It is the perfect balance of tinkering with tech stacks and collaborating with a globally distributed team. We sat down and chatted to learn more about his day-to-day on the job and how he went from a participant in Netlify Forums, our community hub that houses curated Support Guides, product updates and answers to common questions, to a Netlify employee.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Support?
I wasn't looking for a career in Support, but my journey in the Forums led me here. I realized that I was able to have a great time helping folks. I was fortunate to join the team, and I wanted to take the opportunity that was knocking on the door. My opinion has not changed since I started at Netlify! It is very fun to be here.
You mention your journey in the Forums. How did you end up using the Forums?
Honestly, it was my own questions that led me there! The first question I posted on the Forums was about a 404 page, the next about forms, and so on. After I started getting responses I saw a few other threads and thought, "Hey, maybe I can answer some of these." One after another, it slowly became a hobby of mine. This was during Covid, so there was not much to do at home, and I just tried to share whatever knowledge I had. The longer I spent there, the more it added to my knowledge. When I saw the team had an opening for a Senior Support Engineer, I immediately knew it was an opportunity I wanted to explore.
That is amazing! I love the full journey from Netlify customer to Netlify colleague. What has been your favourite aspect of the role since you started a few months ago?
There are so many parts that are pushing me to develop new skills. The satisfaction I get after solving a complicated question or an edge-case question is huge. This is probably my favourite thing I get to do because finding a solution feels like hitting a jackpot moment. It is huge!
Zooming out a bit, one of the aspects of the Support team I value the most is pairing with my team members. This started immediately with my onboarding and is really encouraged, as we all have different areas of expertise. I feel honoured when the team sees me as an expert and I am trusted to share information and guide them.
It sounds like learning is a huge part of your experience here. What would you say the most important skills are for a successful Support Engineer to have?
I think there are three key habits to develop that will enable folks to be successful:
- Being patient. One of the most important things in a role like this is being patient. When customers experience obstacles or breaks in their builds, I want to turn their experience around and make it better, while also preventing such things from happening again. This means being kind, informative, and open to feedback.
- Wanting to grow technical skills. This is huge because it is not compulsory to have top notch technical skills the day you begin in order to provide value and make a difference. Some things that are great to focus on when beginning include recognizing patterns that point to errors, developing an understanding of Git, and managing where you keep notes or new information so you can spend time searching smart rather than hard.
- Prioritizing time management. There will always be a variety of projects to work on and questions to answer. In a Support role, it is important to keep SLAs in mind, as well as keeping track of when other teammates will be online so you can hand off notes, pair with subject matter experts, etc.
So speaking of tasks and time management, walk me through a typical day at the keys. How does your work shift unfold?
I work during my evenings, as I am currently pursuing an MBA as well. I feel fully supported by my team to set boundaries and dedicate myself to both. Because of this, my day to day can shift a bit, so the time estimates I am sharing are all approximate!
- 4:30 PM to 4:40 PM: I usually start by checking Slack, emails, GitHub notifications and catching up on any conversations or escalations that happened before my shift started. Since my working days currently are Wednesday to Sunday, this activity usually takes a little longer on Wednesdays as I have two working days of conversations to catch up on.
- 4:40 PM to 4:45 PM: I check my Calendar to glance through my day and check for scheduled meetings and other events to plan my day accordingly.
- 4:45 PM to 7:00 PM: After getting caught up on communications, I jump to the Forums. I truly enjoy answering questions and sharing resources within the Forums since that is really where it all began. I like to follow up on threads I am engaging with as well as see what new discussions have popped up.
- 7:00 PM to 11:30 PM: Once I start my helpdesk work, I prioritize questions by their urgency. I make sure that tickets I have been working on have answers, and I check to see if my teammates have left any notes for me to follow up on. Once I work through those, I will dive into new tickets and research any unknowns that I need to. Some of this time also gets spent in meetings with other engineering teams discussing projects, releases, and initiatives. All of those meetings vary greatly depending on the day.
- Post 11:30 PM: I like to prioritize answering questions because I know that getting folks unstuck can have a high impact. Once I have met that goal, I start focusing on some of my other work projects.
Sounds busy! How do you make sure you are building in breaks for yourself?
When I am doing work, building projects, etc., I get hyper-focused and then accidentally realize I have had my head down for a while. When I am excited, I need to remind myself to take a break. That being said, I always step away for a dinner break. I also love to build in a quick walk outside each day.
How do you wrap up your day? Do you do anything to set yourself up for success for tomorrow?
Before I sign off for the evening, I set some reminders for what I will need to follow up on the next day. This could be filing an issue, checking up on an asynchronous conversation, or returning to a customer conversation. While I usually have a good memory for this, I still bookmark important conversations so that nothing gets lost. After setting reminders for myself, I make sure I share any private notes or comments for my team so that they have a clear insight into what I was debugging while they were offline. This is important in globally distributed teams!
Sounds like you definitely try to set up both yourself and your teammates for success. What advice would you give to someone just starting their journey in a Support role?
The first thing I would say is to be open to learning. There has not been a single day that I haven't learned something new in this role. I don't know everything, even after all my experience online and working here!
The second is that it is important to remember that everyone will make mistakes. Stay open to feedback and always look for ways to collaborate for improvement. This is how we not only serve our customers better but grow ourselves as well!
If you're interested in seeing more Support action from Netlify staff and customers, be sure to check out the Netlify Forums. You never know where it may lead!