Voices of Lane: Gurpreet Hanspal and Vardan Sawhney

Let’s get “co-operative.” That’s right, folks—time to meet our exceptional QA Testing Co-Ops: Gurpreet and Vardan!

So! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came across the co-op position at Lane.

Vardan: I came across Lane because I’m interested in commercial real estate—it’s one of the biggest markets that seems to hold value even through tough economic times. I also found out that the platform itself was very interesting. Plus, being at a startup can be much more valuable than being at one of those fossilized companies. As a group with lots of mentors, you get to learn a lot. It’s been a great place to work so far, and I’m super excited to see what the rest of my term holds.

Gurpreet: I think QA is a really important part of the engineering team and of the company as a whole. Plus, I’ve always been interested in working in startups, because you get to have a bigger impact on the company that way. The interview process was great. Brittani was super helpful. 

Awesome. Tell us a bit about your life outside of Lane. Do you have any interests? Pets? Skeletons in the closet? 

Gurpreet: I have a lot of hobbies that I don’t really get time to do on a day-to-day basis. Like sewing and woodworking. But after work, I try and do something that’s not screen related. I’m currently working on a thousand piece puzzle, for instance… I also have two cats that my sister and I adopted near the beginning of the pandemic, just so we would have company while we stayed indoors. Their names are Bugsy and Rose and they’re very special. 


Bugsy and Rose

Vardan: So, I’m hard of hearing, and I have hearing aids. Which isn’t a big deal, but when I was younger, it used to be harder. They felt like they hindered me. And I guess in some cases it can be pretty difficult to get over that initial perspective. But over the last few years, I’ve really been able to use it as a way to motivate myself—to try out new things and really challenge myself. So that sort of propelled me into getting a scuba diving license. Now, I’m a licensed scuba diver and I’m working towards getting a private pilot’s license, hopefully by the time I’m 30. Things that push me out of my comfort zone. On the other hand, when I’m home on a day-to-day basis, I really enjoy chess. It was something I grew up learning. My dad taught me when I was young. My goal is to become a really solid chess player by the time I’m 30—to hit a national masters title or a little bit further… but these are all very ambitious goals. 

Right now you both are in the co-op stage, and you might change your careers three or four different times in the next ten years. Tell us more about what you’re aspiring to and how the work you’re doing at Lane might be informing that. 

Gurpreet: I’m currently in university studying math, so it’s pretty different from what I’m doing at Lane with QA. And while I think QA is such an important part of the whole software development lifecycle, I don’t want to stay in this role forever. I’m looking to transition into devOps or any type of support engineering role. Somewhere where I can be a part of the engineering team without necessarily building new app features.

Vardan: I guess a software engineering role would be nice for me, where I can help build out new features—and build out my skills. I feel like I can reach out to anyone and be like, “Hey, I’m interested in this. Can we talk more about it?” Recently during my one-on-one with my team lead William, I asked him if we could also schedule a one-on-one with the person who’s in charge of devOps, just so we could talk about that field and what they’re doing. So in that sense, it’s been really helpful working here so far. 

What is the best part about Lane that not enough people talk about?

Gurpreet: The people here are very eager to help you. Especially speaking from a new hire perspective. From the moment I come across an issue and reach out to someone to the moment it’s resolved—it’s such a short period of time. Everyone is just very focused on getting you unblocked and prepared for the work you have to do. So it’s a very nice work environment here.

How does it feel being part of a remote company now?

Gurpreet: I thought it would be a lot harder than this, but onboarding was very seamless. I don’t really feel disconnected from the rest of the people here. We always have team-building exercises or the weekly wrap-ups where the whole team gets together and we have a meeting. There doesn’t seem to be a big disconnect. And that’s what I like about it. They’re trying really hard to still keep the employees engaged and make them feel like we’re still connected. So far the remote setup has been working pretty well.

Vardan: I definitely agree with that. The work culture here is so amazing and teams are really focused on moving together. We do have a hierarchy, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like there is. Everybody is very, very approachable. If you need to schedule one-on-ones, you can schedule them, even with Clint. And I think I really appreciate that openness from the team, especially as an intern, because it really gives you an opportunity to learn so much from so many different people. 

Like, I remember talking to Alex when she was doing our orientation for the sales team, and she was like, “just let us know if you want to hop on a call and we’ll set it up.” And that’s really nice to hear, especially transitioning from a bigger company where you have a lot of employees and people aren’t really able to dedicate that time. 

Gurpreet: The transparency from the leadership team specifically is really nice. Like, I’ve worked in companies before where they’re just not approachable at all. But here it’s like, “Hey, if you need help, let me know” —that kind of attitude. And it’s very nice to be around people like that. The amount of times I’ve asked a question in a channel and Clint’s being like, “here I can help.” It’s very “all hands on deck,” which feels really good. 

Speaking of Lane and what we do, what interests you about the future of work? 

Gurpreet: What interests me is that there’s going to be a lot more flexibility in terms of how we work. It’ll be a lot more hybrid between being an office and working remotely. So just having the flexibility to start your day when it feels right for you. If I want to take a half hour break, for instance, I can do that. Just sit in my living room, relax, and then go back to work. The biggest thing for me with remote work is that I don’t have to commute anymore. Because that was always a pain. So choosing when to commute and when to go in the office is a very big plus for me.

Vardan: I agree, I think the future is really going remote or flex. But you’re still going to be able to connect with your coworkers and the team. That’s something I do miss with the whole pandemic. I really wished that there was a way to interact in a more personal context versus just through screens. I haven’t felt a super disconnect, because Lane has seamless onboarding and it always feels like home to me. But in terms of the future of work, I do see it mostly being remote. 

Do you have a mantra you live by?

Vardan: A Steve jobs quote from a while ago resonated with me. It’s a much more eloquent way of saying everything happens for a reason, but it goes something like this: “You can’t connect the dots looking forwards. You can only connect them looking backwards.” So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. So for me personally, when the going gets hard, it’s hard to understand it in the moment that these experiences will really make you who you are. But a few years out, you’ll look back and you’d be like, wow, that experience really helped me reach where I am today. 

Gurpreet: A quote I really like from Leonardo Da Vinci is “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” I try to keep things simple and to have that reflected in my work and in the user experience that results from it.

On that note, how do you like to work? 

Gurpreet: I’m one of those people that likes to start my day at 9 am and get right down to work so I have the afternoon to relax. For time management, I really like to use Google calendar and just section off my day at the beginning of each day. And at the end of every day, I have a notebook where I like to write down the things that I worked on and the things I will do tomorrow. It helps me be prepared in the mornings and have some sort of structure to my day that following day. 

I also take a lot of breaks when I work. I’m not the kind of person who can just sit at a desk and cram continuously. I don’t think I can sit longer than an hour at a time. I always get up and take a five minute break to stretch or grab a snack. I think it’s really important to have those little breaks in between.

Vardan: I’m the opposite. I’m very spontaneous in the way that I work. I do have general ideas of how I want to work, or what I want to clear out first. But there’s not really much structuring my day. I sit down for a few hours at a time and pump out as much work as I can. And then take a little bit longer of a break. Maybe I’ll try to do like five or six hours of work straight, then take maybe a 30 minute break, or an hour and a half just to sort of recover. Then back at it.

But I’m all over the place. If I’m not necessarily enjoying doing the manual testing, I move over to the automated testing. And then if that doesn’t really interest me, I’ll try to move on and see if I can find any bugs on the program software. You know, so I’m always trying to do something that contributes back to the platform, but not necessarily in an order that restricts me. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Vardan: Just being super open about who you are and the type of work personality that you have. And honestly, see if you can pair up with someone and sorta just learn through watching them. Cause everybody’s super open about the type of work that they’re doing and how they go about it. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Like, I know it’s super awkward, but people are willing to help here. 

Awesome. But what’s the square root of 239?

Gurpreet: √239 is the simplest radical form, and any answer otherwise would not be exact. 

Roger that! Anything else? 

Gurpreet: Just to say that, when you asked us to be a part of this, I felt very included. We’ve only been here for about a month, and we’re only going to be here for four months. But in that short period of time, I’ve felt so included, like I’m a part of a team. It’s been a really nice experience. So nice.

Vardan: Agreed. I really do appreciate the opportunity to do something like this. Really, really nice. I also love how everyone comes together to do a single clap at the top of the week. Makes me feel very connected.

Want to join Gurpreet and Vardan? We’re hiring!