Recruit Training Epilogues

LINE recruited its new employees publicly for the first time in 2015 and “LINE style” on-the-ground training was held for about 6 weeks for the newcomers. Here are the epilogues shared by 2 of the participants (1 male and 1 female).

Recruit Training Epilogue 1

Hello! My name is Jenny and I’ve just become one of the newest members of LINE. I have decided to share the experiences that I had during the 6 weeks of training. I wanted to let everyone know the struggles that my colleagues and I had to endure during the training course and, of course, to settle myself as a fresh new recruit. All the newly hired ones including myself have now been assigned with teams and positions, but just a few days ago we were going through the craziest schedule of 6-week training we’ve ever seen. The training course we went through required us to grow and improve ourselves with every step. Suffice to say; we will not forget it for a very long time. Upon completing the course, I soon figured out that we have not only grown as individuals because of the knowledge that each of us accumulated through the course, but also because of our unwavering pride as a part of LINE, affection towards LINE’s corporate culture and a firm reliability towards the colleagues who are on the same boat. Here, I am about to share with you my memoirs of the struggling challenges of becoming a LINE member and the valuable anecdotes I picked up during training. Here, I would like to talk about what I think was the 4 essential courses of our training. (Which were education, the workshop, visiting LINE headquarters in Japan, and our project.)

Education

Let me begin with “education.” A large part of our training focused on education. Prior to the public recruiting of 2015, LINE only hired experienced engineers who already had the expertise in a specific part when there was an opening. As a new recruit to LINE without any expertise, having so much to learn, we had a long way to go to prepare ourselves to work in the field, let alone carry out the “mobile messenger development project” that I will introduce to you later. The training focused both on educating the newcomers on what LINE is and the hands-on knowledge of actual development. During the daily 10AM-7PM lectures, we were able to pick up LINE’s corporate culture, internal infrastructure for cooperation and development and other advanced technical details that cannot be easily learned outside. We were also granted an opportunity to have a glimpse on how LINE VoIP and LINE games were developed thanks to the precious time that our senior LINE engineers spared for us through the special courses. The technical education mostly focused on Java, Spring framework, Hadoop, Redis and Android; the tools that are widely used in LINE. We, as trainees, were able to develop the basic abilities to fulfill our roles in LINE and learned how to understand and communicate with each other even though we were to be separated into server and client development. Since we were given an opportunity to apply the technology that we learned from the messenger development project that went along with the training, the education surely felt very much practical and helpful for all of us.

The Workshop

My second part of the story is about the workshop that took place in the suburban training center. We had 2 wonderful days among our training period to stay in the suburbs, where we found peace, both mentally and physically, while enjoying the beautiful scenic view looking down the downtown area as well as the modern building design and interior. The accommodation that we used was full of eco-friendly spirit and cute elements and we were very much satisfied with the 2-day workshop. The sole tragedy was the fact that we only got to spend 2 hours in our accommodation since we stayed up all night at the Hackathon, coding until the break of dawn. In the training center, a so-called “Burning Room” greeted us. The room was a space for engineers to burn their energy while they concentrate on achieving the set goal of the day. We were surprised to find out this “Burning Room” was identified as “The Coding Pit” in the workshop schedule leaflet. However, we soon appreciated the existence of the Burning Room, although I have to admit it was quite scary and at the same time unique, since it was a space carefully prepared for the engineers or planners to accomplish their set goals in a comfortable manner. The Hackathon was surely a meaningful experience. It provided us with hands-on knowledge to materialize what we had learned in the books. We were able to complete the framework and foundation of the messenger app; which was a project given to all newcomers. Although we had to give up our sweet morning sleep to carry out the project due to the all-day trainings, words could not describe the satisfaction that we felt at the moment of accomplishing our goal at sunrise. Not only this, it felt as if I shared camaraderie with my colleagues with whom I worked with through many sleepless nights. We once had doubts of finishing our project, but on our march back to the living quarters we were filled with an unspeakable sense of fulfillment. Watching the rising sun, we had a newfound appreciation for the name, “Burning Room.”

Visiting the Japan Headquarters

As a new recruit to LINE, it was indeed a valuable experience having to be trained in Japan, the birthplace of LINE. I hurried my footsteps to Japan with high hopes since I am well aware that LINE is “The” messenger app in Japan used by almost everyone. Recently I heard from my acquaintance that life is impossible without LINE in Japan. We all stayed in Shibuya, Tokyo for 4 days where the Japan headquarters is located. LINE was in a marvelous high-rise building called Hikarie in Shibuya. The glass walls surrounding 4 sides of the building presented us with a magnificent day and night view of Shibuya. Such impression naturally led to my heart swelling with pride for LINE. We also got a chance to meet with those who contributed largely to the creation of LINE. All of the newcomers watched and listened with gleaming eyes to catch every word of the near-legendary development related stories in the initial stage of LINE and actual structure of LINE. There was also a Q&A session prepared for us, where we realized how global LINE was from the various nationalities of the employees. My heart pounded faster imagining myself working with these international engineers in such a global company. One of the most memorable things in Japan was the “Find LINE in Japan” mission. The mission was to track down traces of LINE in Japan, where LINE forms an important part of the everyday life. We found LINE Taxi, LINE@ and LINE Official Accounts (OA) in every corner of Shibuya where the mission took place and bumped into many Japanese people who were using LINE to communicate with their friends and families. Witnessing such a “LINE craze,” we saw how LINE had established itself as a service taking care of various aspects of everyday life in Japan, being beyond a mere messenger app. I still remember how proud we were when we visited the LINE Friends Store in Harajuku. The store was bustling with people with smiles on their faces as they took photos with LINE characters.

The Project

Last but not least, the project! It was the core essence of the training course, the alpha and omega. It served as a chance to think deeply and plan out a “messenger” worthy of the LINE namesake. Since there wasn’t much time to spend on the project due to our all-day training sessions, most of the new recruits devoted their weekends, sometimes heading off to the office one hour earlier and leaving 6 hours later than the regular sessions to focus on their projects. It pushed us to our limits, but my colleagues and I had the most amusing moments and learned the most valuable lessons through this project.

The theme of the project was to create a messenger with 3 of the other team members. We were able to use tools actually used in LINE such as NoSQL, internal infrastructure, Git, a Bug Tracking System and also Agile type development processes. We all aimed to create a messenger that would stand out, by infusing unique ideas so that it would be more than a conventional messenger app. At first, our mentors and even we doubted whether we could complete development of the messenger only using the leftover time we had within just 6 weeks. We had to kick off the process before getting familiar with the corporate culture or the infrastructure and it was quite awkward for us to work with team members who we had never met before. However, we were motivated to complete the project from what Euivin Park, CTO of LINE, told us, that there are various cases where a couple of LINE engineers gathered around a table to tackle internal development issues by their own accord. What we felt was more than just pressure forcing us to compete the project; it was a sense of great responsibility as a “LINE engineer.” The given task was not much different from the actual work we would be handling in the future.

To our relief, our challenge ended with success. On the last day of our training, all of the new engineers had a chance to present their awesome mobile messengers in front of many leaders of divisions and teams. We were very happy for the warm applaud that our seniors gave us. We may have been greenhorn novice engineers at the beginning of training, but we were now presenting the projects that we had been working on as genuine LINE engineers. The audience felt it, and my colleagues and I felt it as well. I completed the training with a firm belief in my mind: that “I can do anything!” The training course at LINE was far from being a one-way lecture where all the trainees would sit down while being told how great LINE is. It was indeed a valuable opportunity to have a hands-on experience on LINE’s culture, visiting places where LINE is widely used, learning about various technologies and infrastructure applied in the field. We were able to think of how to make LINE better, not only as rookie engineers, but in the shoes of the engineers already working in the company. I am very proud that I, together with all my colleagues, was able to witness a meaningful growth in my development capability as a novice engineer and thereby naturally becoming a real “LINE engineer.”


Recruit Training Epilogue 2

Hi, I am WH and I’ve just become a rookie engineer taking charge of LINE Camera development for iOS after completing a 6-week program of welcoming training. In 2015, LINE publicly recruited new employees for the first time. How do you imagine the excellent engineers of LINE planned their first training program for the new engineers? I would love to share the splendid experience that I had during the last 6 weeks.

I became part of the LINE crew in January, 2015. The training for newcomers was held for 6 weeks, beginning with an introduction on LINE services, and its organizational structure. After that, we were able to learn the basics of various development tools and processes used at LINE.

Training Begins

More in-depth training started from the second week. The overall topic was messenger server/ client development and I was provided with the tools, so to speak, required for fulfilling tasks from the company.

First of all, I received a notebook computer, a must-have item for engineering. The model I received was a mid 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina installed with a 256GB SSD, which made the remainder of training much more enjoyable. The moment when I first booted up my computer is still vivid in my memory: Much to my surprise, the OSX login screen appeared in mere seconds, even though it was a cold boot. Moreover, my colleagues and I were permitted to freely use the conference room during the development period along with a 24-inch monitor.

Not only were the tools impressive, LINE also provided useful lectures in a timely manner. Our server used Redis for our database and Spring for framework. Since my colleagues and I all had different skillsets, we were provided with 8 hours of Java, Spring, Redis, and etc. lectures on a daily basis. We also had the pleasure of listening to special lectures given by our senior engineers who are contributing to the development of specific fields such as VoIP. We were able to feel and understand, albeit indirectly, the mental labor that our senior engineers experienced to come up with a service that they cared for.

The Project

Once the project theme and team were set, we had our first meeting as a team. Our aim during the first meeting was to establish the team’s development culture. We had hoped to achieve something greater than just gaining development knowledge by having a sense of purpose instead of just blindly developing.

As a result of our meeting, we summarized our team culture in 3 bullet points:

  1. Like LINE Engineers: First, instead of just jumping head-first into messenger development, we familiarize ourselves as much as we can with the tools and processes used in LINE.
  2. Team Improvement: Second, all team members should accumulate development experience across server and client through Pair & Mob programming.
  3. Effectiveness: Actively search for and adopt open sources for more effective development.

Moreover, upon realizing that many of the LINE teams remotely co-work with engineers in various nations, we decided to communicate not only in our mother language but also in English and Japanese. To prepare ourselves for a global era, we also agreed to use English when submitting issues to JIRA or committing to Git.

Most LINE teams apply Scrum during the development process (Using JIRA for issue management). Accordingly, our team segmented the training course to a total of 6 sprints for Scrum. We established a goal and drafted the backlog for the relevant sprint during the plan meeting held on the starting day of each sprint by gathering around a table at around 9 AM. The drafted backlog was, then, submitted as an issue to JIRA so that we can get hold of our progress at any time. Once the sprint began, we held a 15-minute meeting every day at 9:30 AM to share what had been done yesterday, what needs to be completed today and what other development issues were on the table.

After 2 weeks of listening to lectures and working on our project, we had 2 days of camp training. Honestly, we were not seeing much progress in our project due to lack of time from 8 hours of daily lectures. Not to mention the time we spent establishing our development environment. Understanding our situation, our mentors allowed us to be immersed in all-night development just like in a “hackathon.” We tried out Mob Programming for the first time during this occasion. Instead of splitting the roles and then collecting the outcome back again, we rather chose to have one computer and big monitor to work together. This was also in the same line with the ‘purpose of newbie training’ to accumulate experience on both server and client development. We were able to share a similar level of understanding on the structure by working hand in hand when forming a basic structure for the system. Such experience served as a foundation for our team to respond more flexibly to all sorts of issues that we encountered while implementing additional features afterwards.

Visiting the Japan Headquarters

On our 4th week of training, we joined a 4-day workshop at the LINE headquarters located in Shibuya, Tokyo in Japan. I can still remember the moment when I looked down at the beautiful, seemingly endless urban landscape through the glass walls of the LINE café located on the 27th floor of the Hikarie building. During the workshop in Japan, we had a chance to listen to the detailed description of the Hikarie office, introduction on LINE development organization as well as the lively stories told by engineers and planners who made the LINE of today. Contrary to rumors online, we realized that the success we witness today was certainly a collaboration of powerful technology and key marketing strategies based on thorough analysis of the characteristics of Japanese users.

On our third day of stay in Japan, we were given permission to freely roam Tokyo, while also being on a “LINE Treasure Hunt” of sorts. My colleagues and I visited the LINE Friends Store in Harajuku and bought LINE merchandise while observing the jolly-looking shoppers. We also found out that many stores used the LINE official account “LINE@” to stay in touch with their customers via LINE. It was a meaningful moment to actually feel LINE being firmly settled down as part of everyday life beyond in Japan. To them, it was more than a mere mobile messenger app.

Afterwards, some of my team members and I visited Odaiba on a monorail called the “Yurikamome.” We saw some cosplayers there and we jokingly said that we should wear LINE Friends costumes like Cony or Brown, next time when we visit again.

The Presentation

There were only 2 weeks of training left after our workshop in Japan. A mobile messenger app is generally equipped with many features other than message transferring functionality. Thanks to our mentor’s advice, we came to a consensus that rather than including all sorts of features to the messenger, we would only include one standout feature after we implemented the most basic functions of a mobile messenger app. Focusing on our core goal, we were able to complete our project in 2 weeks. Our unique messenger boasted a feature that let users enjoy anonymous chatting using the “LINE Friends” characters as their personal avatars.

On the last day of the training, we stood in front of the many leaders from the LINE development team and presented what we had been concentrating on during the past few weeks. After 6 weeks of training, all teams including ours were proudly presenting their expertise on par with an actual LINE engineer. We mentioned various development tools and processes used in LINE amazing the audience with how we had transformed from newbies. As much as we wanted to maintain the illusion of our professionalism during the presentations, when we actually demonstrated the applications we developed ourselves, the apps would malfunction or crash, drawing laughter from the audience.

Normally, when we think about training new recruits, it’s natural to imagine a chaotic schedule with endless lectures. Things are done differently at LINE. Our training only provided us with the big picture, teaching us only the fundamentals. The project we were given was like a huge empty canvas, what we would draw there was our own choice to make. I feel that my colleagues and I did what we set out to do, each of us becoming LINE engineers in our own right.

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