Why we have First Thursdays

by Michael May on Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015

On the first Thursday of each month, we, the whole engineering team at Lyst, gather together to share ideas, experiences, learnings, drinks and snacks under the title of “First Thursdays”.

We believe that taking part in this event is not only useful, but essential. We move fast, we don’t all sit together anymore, and we often have different focuses, different passions, and different technologies that make up our day-to-day lives. But by coming together and sharing we are able to break down these barriers and become one team again.

Since they started in March of last year we’ve heard talks on everything from “An Introduction to OCaml” and  “Random Projection Tree Awesomeness” to “Acronyms FTW (AKA WAI-ARIA HTML Accessibility)” and “So, you want to learn Objective-C”. Oh and, of course, “How to buy a tailored suit”. An essential for any sartorial developer.

Along the way we learned that

  • A WYSIWYG name (“First Thursdays”) is better for remembering them (they used to be called “Engineering Open Days”) amongst the busy schedules of developers.
  • They also seem to work better in a cosier space - our gallery event space just felt a bit too formal.
  • They should be open to all but focused on engineers. We’re very proud that, despite this, we get designers, product managers, and even search team members coming along.

These events have become so successful that, as I write this, we are totally booked up with internal speakers through to May and we’ve begun planning “Third Thursdays” where we will use the slot to cover bigger, less directly Lyst focused themes; “Introduction to Python”, “Modern Javascript” and “Git Ninja Skills” are just three of the proposed talks.

If your engineering team has grown to a size that means you are not all working on the same projects, teams or technologies anymore, then maybe an event like this might help you too.

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