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How to Be Awesome at Sonoma Part 5: Foster a Positive Environment

This post continues our “How to Be Awesome” series, highlighting exemplary Sonomans who live out the different elements of our “How to Be Awesome” list. Banner

We’ve heard how Sonomans act like pros, deliver quality work, communicate well, and just do it. Next is the fifth item on our “How to Be Awesome” list: foster a positive environment.

We believe fostering a positive environment is about setting positive examples for others to follow. Your complaints include ideas and suggestions on how to fix a problem. You are humble and accept constructive feedback without defensiveness. Staying open to new ideas and suggestions is important along with accepting work assignments with a positive attitude, no matter how small a task it may seem.

Here is how some Sonomans help foster a positive environment:

DibbsWilliam “Dibbs” Dibbern – Principal Developer

“Dibbs is one of the most cheerful and helpful people to find when you have a question and is always willing to discuss and help you find your way.”

What advice do you have for others trying to “foster a positive environment”?

Dibbs: I really enjoy solving problems as I see each one as an opportunity for me to learn something new, as well as a puzzle yet to be solved. Mentally framing a problem in a fun way like that helps to keep you energized and on track. One thing I picked up along the way is to be conscious of when I’m voicing a problem by itself. That poor problem is so lonely. Problems like to be paired with solutions. Offering a solution up with a problem will show that you’ve really thought through the problem at hand and cut back on a lot of the back and forth.

Mike Collins – Senior Consultant Mike-collins

“Mike brings ideas to start a conversation or project, but isn’t set on his way being best. He is open to team suggestions and goes with whatever solution makes the most sense, even if it is not necessarily his.”

Why is “foster a positive environment” an important part of the “How to Be Awesome” list for Sonoma?

Mike: I think that having a company culture at Sonoma that focuses on the positives rather negatives is a huge asset because so much more can be accomplished when everyone stays positive and is focused on the same goal.

Interested in joining our awesome team of Sonomans? Check out our open positions here.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

How to Be Awesome at Sonoma Part 4: Just Do It

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This post continues our “How to Be Awesome” series, highlighting exemplary Sonomans who live out the different elements of our “How to Be Awesome” list.

So we’ve heard from some of our pros, quality deliverers, and communicator extraordinaires. Next is the fourth item on the “How to Be Awesome” list: just do it.

We feel that “just do it” emphasizes that you do what you say you will. Telling a client or a co-worker that you’ll get something done is a commitment. Your colleagues can feel confident that you’ll complete your work in a timely manner. When necessary, you’re willing to work late nights or weekends to meet your deadlines.

Here is how some Sonomans are just doing it:

Katy Moy – Graphic Designer
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“Katy is unstoppable. She has never missed a deadline, is always handling multiple projects with competing due dates, creates effective marketing materials, and does it all without ever complaining. Her work ethic is second to none. I have worked with very few people like Katy in my life and feel lucky that I get to be on her team.”

What advice do you have for others trying to “just do it”?
Katy:
Set realistic goals and be enthusiastic about what you do. Collaborate with your team members. Surround yourself with people who inspire you (which is abundant at Sonoma Partners!). Try to learn something new every day within your work.

Pete Majer – Principal Consultant Pete
“Pete is always very responsive and keeps on top of things. He’s always willing to do what he can to help out and jump in to provide whatever support he can. I can’t think of a time when he told me or the client he would get something done and didn’t."

What does “just do it” mean to you?
Pete:
Nobody likes to work late nights or weekends, but sometimes it’s mandatory. The biggest thing about “just do it” to me is being honest. If you promise someone that you’ll get something done by a specific date, you better do everything in your power to get it done by that deadline.

Vickie Stevens – Sr. HR Generalist
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“Vickie is a powerhouse in getting things done and doesn’t let anything stand in her way. I always know she will meet her deadlines, and I never have to remind her to get something done. She is a joy to work with.”

Why is “just do it” an important part of the “How to Be Awesome” list for Sonoma?
Vickie:
“Just do it” is an essential part of our “How to Be Awesome” list. We rely on each other as an organization to do what we say we will. Sonomans love the people they work with in big part because they can rely on them to put in the extra time or effort to get the work done and “just do it.”

Interested in joining our awesome team of Sonomans? Check out our open positions here.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

How to Be Awesome at Sonoma Part 3: Be a Good Communicator

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This post is the third in our "How to Be Awesome" series, highlighting exemplary Sonomans who live out the different elements of our "How to Be Awesome" list.

The third item on the “How to Be Awesome” list: be a good communicator. This emphasizes the importance of ensuring your message is clear and unambiguous, whether through verbal or written techniques. To be a good communicator you also understand the difference in levels of communication to various audiences and determining what is most appropriate.

Here is how some Sonomans are excellent communicators:

ElaineElaine Chang – Developer
“Elaine is fantastic about letting you know what questions she has in a very concise, clear manner. They’re always well-thought-out, and she’s done the research to provide different options if we need to make a choice of which direction to go. She’s also great about proactive communication about hitting hours for the week and status of items.”

What does being a good communicator mean to you?
Elaine:
For me, being a good communicator means having the ability to convey information in a clear and succinct manner. I try to provide as much applicable information as possible when both asking and answering questions. I find this cuts down on misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Dan Leszkowicz – Senior Account Executive Dan
“Dan is a clear, concise communicator internally at Sonoma, but also (and especially) with his clients. He writes excellent, clear emails. When in-person, he speaks well and provides a steady, knowledgeable presence that clients love.”

What tip would you give for being a good communicator?
Dan:
I learned early-on in my career, that perception is reality.  And communication, regardless of medium, is really all people have, on which to base those perceptions.  Being a good communicator requires having something valuable to contribute, but that’s just table stakes.  The rest – it’s all about good, old-fashioned manners.  Treat your audience how you’d like to be treated, say “please” and “thank you”, and listen more than you speak.

RachelRachel Sullivan – Senior Consultant
“Rachel always lets Sonomans and customers know what she’s working on for them and when they can expect the next step. I’m currently working with her on a customer project, and she has been a pleasure to work with. She has done an excellent job of leading the customer through the process quickly and precisely, and she always communicates the process and timeline in a clear manner. The documentation she has created for the engagement has been very professional.”

Why is being a good communicator important at Sonoma?
Rachel: I think being a good communicator is important at Sonoma and every day because it creates an environment where everyone is on the same page. When people are aligned in what needs to get done and when, it helps the team work towards one goal together instead of as individuals.

Interested in joining our awesome team of Sonomans? Check out our open positions here.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

How to Be Awesome at Sonoma Part 2: Deliver Quality Work

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This post is the second in our "How to Be Awesome" series, highlighting exemplary Sonomans who live out the different elements of our "How to Be Awesome" list.

The second item on the “How to Be Awesome” list: deliver quality work. We define this as paying attention to the details, avoiding small errors, and making sure you are a true team player in your projects. Clients consider your work output nothing short of world-class.

Here is how some Sonomans deliver quality work:

Kevin1Kevin Yamashita – Sales Engineer
“His attention to detail on demos is amazing! He truly cares about getting everything done right, even if it means more work.”

How do you deliver quality work at Sonoma Partners?
Kevin:
Don’t be afraid to take some time to really think before acting on something. Is this the right thing to do? Is there a smarter or faster approach? How can I do this better next time? Then once you start a task, be tenacious and dedicated. Smell for smoke early and often. Feel obligated to escalate or to ask for help as necessary. If something seems off, be willing to rock the boat and to ask “why?”

Brad Bosak – VP of Development Brad
“I can always count on Brad to deliver even with limited information and usually in situations where we have limited experience. He did so again with one of our applications, figuring out the appropriate solutions and taking the designs from our UX team and making them work for our needs.”

What tip would you give for delivering quality work?
Brad:
Take pride in your work. If you take the time to fully understand the requirements and really care about what you’re doing, it will be reflected in your output.

AnneAnne Hoesly – Senior Consultant
“Anne goes above and beyond to make sure her client projects are as successful as possible. She identified very early on that one of the UAT processes that a client team was using was not thorough enough and organized a plan for us to do our own scenario testing. As expected, this process identified a number of things that were never considered by the client and provided us the time to resolve those issues before go-live.”

What does “Deliver Quality Work” mean to you?
Anne: For me, delivering a quality product means attention to detail and always keeping the business process as the first priority. A tool is only as powerful as how well it enables the person using it. Ensuring that I always focus on a client’s end users and their needs allows me to create products that make the most impact.

Do you want to join our awesome team of Sonomans? Check out our open positions here.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

Day in the Life: Meet Michael

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Why do I like working at Sonoma?

For one thing, everyone is incredibly smart and self-motivated at work...and cool to hang out with after.

My internship prepared me for this experience.

Mike2As an intern at Sonoma, I got a lot of exposure to what the industry is like and what skills are the most in-demand. The opportunity to work with big name technologies while I was still in school gave me a lot of perspective about the direction I wanted to take my career. It allowed me to tailor my senior year class selection to better match up with the type of work I wanted to do after I graduated.

I learned a lot more during that summer than any semester in school and really felt like I was advancing my career.  Sonoma even allowed me to take Salesforce certification exams – I got two!  This made me highly desirable to employers at the following career fair, but I knew I wanted to come back to the atmosphere at Sonoma.

It’s convenient to get to.

In the morning I enjoy breakfast with my roommates and then I’m out the door to catch the Brown Line to work. Southport…Belmont……Chicago…Washington/Wells! That’s me. Off the train and up to the office I go.

We have snacks-a-plenty. Mike1

I grab a granola bar and a cup of coffee from Sonoma Partners’ phenomenally stocked kitchen then head to my desk. From there, I’m pretty much heads-down. I find that I work best in the morning when I dig right in to my software development work. I primarily work in C# and Apex (for Salesforce.com) coding languages with an occasional JavaScript project.

I get great exposure to other kinds of businesses.

I like the combination of consulting and software development work I’m able to do at Sonoma Partners. Working as a Developer at Sonoma is unique because you’re not just limited to working with code. You have the opportunity to interact with clients and truly see what impact you are making on the businesses you’re working with.

Lunchtime is with friends.

For lunch, I’m about 50/50 split between bringing sandwiches from home and going to Blackwood BBQ or Blaze Pizza around the corner from our office. There are so many good options around here, but those are my two favorites. I try my best to eat at the lunch table, but sometimes I get too sucked in to a project to step away. When I do sit at the lunch table, the company is always top notch.

Thursday’s we have Lunch & Learns.

On Thursdays, I eat my lunch with my fellow Developers at our weekly Lunch & Learns. The topics vary, but they’re always interesting. Whether it’s about a pet project or a clever way to solve a client problem, I always enjoy hearing from other Sonomans on what they’re passionate about.

Afternoon meetings are always helpful to touch base with my team. Mike3

Typically, I have one or two status calls with my project team in the afternoon, in between my time spent coding. These calls help to get everyone on the same page, address any potential problems in the code, and field any questions trickled down from the client to our team.

Mike4It is the perfect work/life balance.

Sonoma Partners has a fantastic, flexible work schedule for people to operate when they want, where they want. Working later early in the week allows me to meet my deadlines and work at a more relaxed pace on Friday afternoons.


When I leave I typically head for the gym to get a workout in. Then, I watch sports and enjoy a few beers with my roommates. I try to stay logged in – at least on my phone – to answer any team questions. Typically, they’re quick and easy to respond to on my phone. I rarely have to field client questions after business hours.

Then, it’s bedtime!

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Topics: Careers at Sonoma

Summer 2016: In the Words of Our Interns

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As summer (sadly) comes to an end, we caught up with our Sonoma interns (Amanda, Josiah, and Paul) to discuss their thoughts on the summer, their experience at Sonoma, and how they’ve enjoyed #sonomanlife. Here’s what they had to say:

What has been your favorite part of #sonomanlife?

Amanda: For me, it is the work culture. Everyone here is so friendly and laid back, and the environment is easy going and relaxed.

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Josiah: My favorite part has been the support I’ve found. I truly feel that my coworkers have my back. Everyone is willing to offer support, and I have no reservations in asking questions because I know they will be willing to help out. I also love the casual atmosphere – I can wear what I’m most comfortable in and that just further allows me to do my best work.

Josiah

What did you expect coming into your internship at Sonoma, and how did that compare to what it was really like to work here?

Paul: Coming into this role, I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard a lot about the culture, but I didn’t really know what that meant. But immediately, I felt a relaxed atmosphere. I feel trusted and respected by those I work with, and there is a freedom to operate autonomously because of that. Plus, all the food in the kitchen was a very pleasant surprise!

Paul

Josiah: This has been my first internship working full-time, so I wasn’t sure what to expect either. What surprises me the most in this experience is that I truly enjoy coming into work. There is never a day when I dread coming in. I find myself incredibly passionate about the work, too. I am able to make a real impact for our clients and the project managers I work with. It has been highly rewarding.

Amanda: This is my first internship as well, and I actually turned down another opportunity at a bigger company to come work here for the summer. At the other opportunity, I felt as if they were trying to make work such a comfortable environment that you wouldn’t want to/be able to leave. Instead, Sonoma offers plenty of luxuries around the office, but they respect a work/life balance. Plus, no one here is breathing down your neck to get your work done. They trust that you’ll do your best, and that you’ll speak up when you have questions. If we set fire to something, they trust that we’ll tell them before the building burns down.

Complete this sentence: You would be a good Sonoma intern if you ___________ .

Amanda: Take yourself seriously. If you’re not driven or self-motivated, it’s going to be hard for you to stay focused. Don’t be afraid to be wrong either. There’s no way you can be right all the time.

Josiah: Take initiative. You can’t just sit around and wait for something to be assigned to you directly. There’s always stuff you can be working on. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for more.

Paul: Are a fast and good learner. I came into this internship not knowing many of the development languages we would be using, but I found with Sonoma’s direction, it was really easy to pick up on everything. Stay adaptable and open-minded, and you’ll be just fine.

What did you find to be the most challenging part about being an intern at Sonoma?

Amanda: Getting acclimated to a working environment where you can ask questions. No one looks down on you here for speaking up, but embracing that was a bit challenging at first. There’s a tendency to want to just push through a problem on your own, but know that there are plenty of people willing to lend a hand.

Josiah: For me, it was learning to manage expectations. It’s very easy to want to answer “yes” whenever someone asks, “Is that thing I asked for done?” I learned quickly that it’s far better to own up to a problem and be honest if something is taking longer than expected than mislead people. This is a skill I’ve learned well here and will absolutely take with me.

What is your favorite memory of your internship?

Amanda: Laser tag at the Sonoma Summer Outing! It was so fun to see people come out of their shells and play.

Josiah: The Intern Outing at the Escape Room. We had to problem solve in a set amount of time as a team before the zombie ate us – we had such a great time. And 2 minutes away from record-setting time!

Paul: Whirlyball at the Sonoma Summer Outing was my favorite. It was really fun to be on a team with people who I hadn’t gotten a chance to work with yet.

Are you interested in an opportunity at Sonoma Partners? Check out our current openings.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

Day in the Life: Meet Anthony

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Morning Time
No client meetings today, so I pick something casual and comfortable to wear while I’m running around coordinating projects all day. I kiss my wife goodbye, drop my son off at daycare, and catch the Green Line train to the office. I know there will be plenty of emails to respond to when I get there, but I use my morning commute time to relax a bit and read ESPN.com, WSJ…etc. It’s my time to clear my mind before a busy day of work.

Next, I’m off the train and making my routine stop at the French Market en route to the office. This is where I grab some pineapple for a 10:00 am snack (a habit from who knows where) before heading to the office. I always accompany this with an iced tea brewed at the office from our super-stocked office fridge.

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1:1 Meeting with Coach
Once a week, I have my 1:1 check-in with my coach, Scott. Sonoma is very much anti-corporate hierarchy and does not use the “manager” title. Sometimes my check-in is bouncing ideas back and forth, discussing the client meetings up-and-coming, or just talking personal stuff. It is a great relationship, and I always look forward to our meetings.

Lunchtime
For lunch, there are an insane amount of options around here. Today, it’s a salad from one of the healthier options on the block.

Whenever I’m able, I try to sit in the kitchen with my fellow, awesome Sonomans for lunch. At a growing company, there are constantly new people to meet. Lunchtime is a great way to introduce myself and get to know the people I work with better. As a seller, a large part of what you want to do is build the trust of your own team. Sitting at the same table as my colleagues allows me to do that in a casual, effortless environment.

Post-Lunch
I’m back online, taking the time to check-in with any of the partners I haven’t reached out to this week, respond to a few client questions, and answer internal questions to help move a few of my projects closer to a close. Sometimes, I’m preparing a deck to present to a client, gathering input from Delivery, or writing out a document with the help of my internal team to answer anticipated questions from clients before a pitch.

Deal1“No two deals are the same. Each of our solutions is customized for the client. And that’s what makes it fun to sell – it’s different work every time to close a deal.”

5 O’clock
I am typically able to get out of the office right around 5 pm. Whether it’s my turn or my wife’s, one of us picks up our son from daycare and then returns home. We try to spend time with our son as much as possible between the moment we get home to when he goes to bed. Once he’s fed and in bed, it’s our turn to eat, maybe get a workout in, then TV is on and laptops are out to respond to anything pressing before bed. Then, it’s over and out!

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Are you looking for your next opportunity? Take a look at our current openings and contact us if you're interested!

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

How to Be Awesome at Sonoma Part 1: Act Like a Pro

Awesome2This post is the first in our “How to Be Awesome” series, highlighting exemplary Sonomans who live out the different elements of our “How to Be Awesome” list.

Here at Sonoma, we seek out and encourage awesomeness. But what exactly does it mean for someone to “be awesome”? In this blog series, we’ll cover the list of attributes that we believe make up an awesome Sonoman.

First, act like a pro. This can mean a lot of things, but to us, we’ve identified the following: Be there and on time. Behave appropriately and observe proper etiquette in front of clients and key partners, acting with integrity and honesty.

It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to put it into action. Here is how some Sonomans have exhibited pro-ness:

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Anthony Mancuso – Sales Engineer
“Anthony Mancuso handles complex, multi-hour, stressful projects with calm and efficiency. He’s a complete pro.”

“Fantastic energy and positive in each interaction.”

Why do you think “Act Like a Pro” belongs on our How to Be Awesome list?
Anthony
: One of my favorite quotes is, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” I know coming in to work every day, I’m around people who are integrity-driven professionals whether they’re in front of clients, partners, vendors, friends, or family.

Keith Mescha – Principal Architect Keith
“Keith is exceptional at understanding client needs and taking care of issues before anyone has even had a chance to notice them.”

“This guy is a champ; he is organized, knowledgeable, and effective. These qualities allow him to lead both our internal team and our client team. He supports and challenges his team and takes responsibility for his own actions.”

How do you act like a pro?
Keith
: It really comes down to having a passion for what you do and building off experiences. If you fully immerse yourself into a problem or situation and expect to be successful, you have a better chance of it happening. Humility is key. We don’t know everything nor can we be expected to. Find the right people and relationships to surround yourself with for the right help. Don’t be afraid to share and talk through your technical problems, and pay attention to what is happening around you in your field. Try things! This may lead to breaking things, but you will learn from those experiences too.

It’s important to act like a pro because we are. We get paid to do what we do, so taking responsibility, being organized, and delivery is essential to both personal and company growth.

Ariel  Ariel Upton – Marketing Manager
“Ariel does a fantastic job at organizing our conferences. I recognize it has to be very stressful/frustrating at many points throughout the process, but she pulls it off with positivity and enthusiasm and always gets results.”

“Ariel absolutely kills it! She is juggling many different responsibilities, and I don’t know how she does it…but she is amazing and inspiring.”

What does “Act Like a Pro” mean to you?
Ariel
: Acting like a pro is getting the job done through equal parts preparation and flexibility. I know my role. I know what is expected of me and required of me, and because of this understanding, I can adequately prepare to accomplish what I need to do. That being said, life happens and things can quickly change course. When a situation arises that requires me to be flexible, I know that I can pivot my attention and adapt to the situation at hand without losing my cool or my focus. 

Think you’ve got what it takes to join our awesome team of Sonomans? Check out our open positions.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

Day in the Life: Meet Kevin

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Every day is a different alarm. I have one for each Metra train into Chicago, and depending on the next day’s workload, I decide what time I should be at work the night before. This ranges from as early as 4:37am to 6:02am (I prefer to work early). When I work from home, sometimes I’ll sleep in until *gasp* 6:30am. Scandalous. 

I live in the far west suburbs. As a result, Sonoma’s “SWEET” program is my favorite perk. It allows me to work from home or the office on the fly. I’m usually in the office 2 days per week, sometimes 3, depending on the necessity for face-to-face meetings.

When I’m in the office, I’m usually there by 6:45am, hook up the MacBook Pro to the massive 27” external monitor and proceed to the kitchen for breakfast. I grab some water, brew my first cup of coffee, and head back to my desk with some fruit and dry cereal. Frosted Mini-Wheats “Big Bite” has long been my favorite, although Kellogg’s made an incomprehensible decision to discontinue production, so I now resort to Cheerios. Tragic.

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At this hour, it is quiet in the office – the perfect environment to hit the ground running. I plan out my day, respond to any urgent emails, and focus on tasks that benefit from a lack of distractions (review of detailed requirements, conceptualization of wireframes, etc.).

By 8:30 am, co-workers are trickling in every few minutes. It’s a different mix of people daily, and since many will choose to work from home, the office is usually only half full (or half empty?).

In any given week, I am working on 2-3 projects, all in different stages, and usually for different platforms or CRM systems. For example, it could be a series of mockups that define how non-native functionality will work within Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce, a custom design for a Universal Windows Platform or iOS application, or simply illustrating how a native CRM interface is the solution that best addresses a client’s needs.

As 9:00am arrives, there tends to be an uptick in meetings and internal communications. Weekly “stand-up” calls (taken while sitting, ironically) are an opportunity for a project’s team to discuss the latest status updates and plan next steps.  Rarely are there any surprises, and like Palpatine everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.

I interact heavily with Project Managers and Tech Leads throughout the day. In the early stages of a project, we collaborate to ensure the proposed functionality and wireframes adequately address the user’s objectives, can be executed within the project timeline, and fall within the client’s allocated budget. This is no easy task, and I have nothing but respect for Project Managers tasked with creating this balance – even if it means scaling back a heavily-customized design.

Lunchtime. I usually bring a sandwich to the office or select a random assortment of pantry items if working from home. On rare occasions, I engage in a lunchtime endeavor with co-workers, but more commonly I eat at my desk and continue to plow through the workload. This isn’t a result of being overworked, it’s simply because I am 100% “J” on the MBTI personality scale – I work before I play.

Time to shine. When a project reaches a point where we are ready to present wireframes or design compositions we usually present our creations via screenshare. I walk through the screens step-by-step as the user would interact with the interface. Depending on how the presentation is received, this can be the most gratifying or deflating moment in a project.  More often than not, the presentation ends with minor tweaks and an impressed client. I’m not being egotistical, we simply tend to be awesome.

Mid-afternoon. By now, I have already consumed my second cup of coffee and am debating the ramifications of having a third. Do I really want my mouth to feel as if a dead animal had crawled inside? I decide to brave the drowsiness and consume an apple instead. It must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays. Thanks, Mr. Adams.

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I do not have a manager in the traditional sense, I have a coach. At Sonoma, the employee-coach relationship focuses on mentoring and collaboration as opposed to direction and management. Every week, we touch base for a half hour to discuss ongoing or upcoming projects, company news, personal events, or even our fantasy football teams. The conversations always vary, but the underlying premise is simple: do I have what I need to be happy and successful at what I do?

As projects progress, my involvement turns from conceptualization to execution. I finalize the high-fidelity design compositions, generate image assets, create an interface specifications document and sometimes write HTML/CSS before passing it along to a developer. As the project nears completion, I eagerly test it to verify everything looks and functions as envisioned. I pat myself on the back. Or maybe I had an itch. Either way, it feels good.

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There is one more component of my day-to-day life at Sonoma Partners. Almost every month, I travel to meet with a client for a series of “ride-alongs”. This is an opportunity to observe the client (sales representative, administrator, etc.) in their own working environment to better understand their day-to-day responsibilities and objectives. This experience helps to align our proposed solution with the client’s needs. Afterward, I create a ride-along findings document that is heavily referenced as features are conceptualized and wireframed.

As the day draws near to a close, it’s important to note that every day is different. Some days I switch from billable work to internal projects or sales initiatives. Some days I interview UX and design candidates as we continue to expand our team. Some days I’m glued to a specific project and others I jump from one priority to the next. Variety – it keeps me ticking. That, and coffee. Am I sure I don’t want a 3rd cup? Yes, go away, stupid temptation.

Depending on how satisfied I am with the day’s progress, I tend to close the laptop anywhere from 4:22pm to 5:52pm (there are specific Metra train times involved). I try to resist the urge to check my work email in the evening, usually fail, and peek into tomorrow’s outlook. Nothing crazy… good, now I can rest easy.

Looking back at my day, I consider it a success. Did I finish everything I aimed to finish? No, but I typically set an impossibly high target for myself. Did Sonoma provide me with everything I needed to give it my best shot? Absolutely. That’s how it is with Sonoma. The degree of your success is limited only by your own ambitions.

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Are you looking for a new gig? Take a look at our current openings and contact us about a future at Sonoma Partners.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma

Day in the Life: Meet Melanie

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6:30 AM: Wake up and start the day!

Because we have a casual office environment at Sonoma Partners, getting dressed in the morning often involves the selection of jeans, a v-neck or a blouse (if I'm feeling fancy!), and either sandals or flats.

7:45 am: I'm out the door.

The Chicago office is in a primo location on the western edge of the Loop. I live in the northern part of the city and take the 'L' downtown. I hop off at Washington & Wells and it's a short walk from there to the office.

 8:45 am: COFFEE!

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By the time I get into the office, two hours have passed since I woke up and it's time for coffee. After dropping my bag at my desk, the kitchen is my next stop. In the office kitchen we have a Keurig machine and a great variety of coffee. I usually go for a medium roast, but the developers in line ahead of me usually have a dark roast in hand.

After my coffee has finished brewing I grab a breakfast bar or I pour myself a bowl of granola. The kitchen at Sonoma has over 20 different varieties of granola bars, 6 types of granola/cereal and all of the milk options you could ever want; cow's milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk!

9:00 am: E-mail and catching up.

Before I hop into meetings I scan my email and make sure that nothing requires my immediate attention. With co-workers and clients all over the US, a lot can happen between the time I sign-off and 9:00 am Chicago time.

During this time I probably spend a half hour responding to emails, instant messaging with various project team members, and catching up on the posts in our internal news feed.

9:30 am: "Always go into meetings with a positive attitude. Tell yourself you're going to make this the best deal for all parties." - Natalie Massenet

If my meetings don't start at 9:00 am, I'm usually on the phone by 9:30. Typically, I work on 2-3 projects at a time, each of them in different phases, so the content of these meetings varies greatly. 

When my projects are coming close to a milestone my morning calls are with the client. My project team and I will review the progress we've made and will work with the client to make any adjustments.

I also have weekly stand-up calls with my internal teams at Sonoma. With resources working in different locations, these calls are integral to keeping everyone informed and the project on track.

I report my progress on the latest bunch of features in the functional spec, how many configuration items I was able to close last week, and what tricky techy things are holding me back from completing all of my work. I also answer any business process questions our developers and quality assurance analysts may have.

11:00 am: Quality time with my coach.

Every week I take a break from my project and client meetings to sit down with my coach. Coaches at Sonoma are essentially managers, but at Sonoma, the manager relationship is more personal and has a greater focus on mentoring and collaboration, so we call them coaches.

My coach and I will talk about the projects I'm supporting, the type of work I'm doing, and the feedback he's received from my team. If there are any office announcements my coach will share them with me. Sometimes we'll discuss what can be improved internally, and sometimes we won't talk about work at all! Like I said, the coach relationship is supposed to be more personal. Sometimes we'll chat about Chicago sports, running, vacations, family, etc. 

11:30 am: More email.

Life moves fast at Sonoma. Before lunch I'm checking my email, responding to messages, and troubleshooting any build issues that may have come up.

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12:00 pm: Lunch club.

Typically I bring my lunch to the office and eat in the kitchen, on busy days at my desk. In some offices this would be a very lonely experience. But in the Chicago office, even if you didn't bring your lunch, you order take-out and join everyone in the kitchen. We have two long tables that seat 10 each and it's not uncommon for both to be full.

12:30 pm: In the thick of the jungle.

After morning meetings when all of the hustle and bustle dies down, I start tackling the tough stuff. If we're in the early stages of a project I'm sitting down after lunch to write a functional spec. Throughout the process I'll drop instant messages to my teammates, get clarification  requirements, look for technical expertise from a developer, or meet with one of our principal consultants to see if a particular design is technically possible. 

If a project is further along, I'm spending time in CRM configuring the system. We have amazing internal tools at Sonoma to help keep features and items organized. With my dual monitors in front of me, I am constantly checking the list of items I have assigned to me on one screen, and actually building them on the other. 

2:00 pm - One more meeting.

Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon I usually have my last formal meeting of the day, whether that be with a client on the West Coast or with one of my Sonoma project teams to review an outstanding issue. After the meeting ends, I take advantage of the brief lull to run to the kitchen and grab a snack. If I am sticking to my diet, I'll opt for some grapes and a handful of almonds or pistachios. If not, I'm reaching for the Twizzlers in the candy drawer or a snack pack of chocolate chip cookies. I never forget the La Croix to wash it all down. 

3:00 pm: Home stretch

After my last meeting of the day I'm back to writing functional specs, fine-tuning other documentation, and knocking out some configuration items. The project manager of one of my projects may call me to see what the status of a particular item is, or I may call our tech lead to work out a solution to a specific business requirement.

Depending on how hectic life is, I may swivel around in my chair and chat with my desk mate about the Blackhawks or how we're both doing in the office fantasy football league.

5:30 or 6:00 pm: I'm outta here!

People start filtering out of the office around 4:30 or 5. I prefer to sleep in a little in the morning and stay a bit later at work so I head out around 5:30 or 6. Then it's straight to the gym or the lakefront trail for a run.

8:00 pm: One last check-in.

Right after dinner I'll check my email one last time. I'll take care of anything that needs an immediate response and then I sign-off for the night. I'M OUT!

 A day in the life by the numbers:

By-the-numbers

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Topics: Careers at Sonoma