There is no plan B

I will always look back at moments like creating a website demo for an interview - a fresh mind, an opportunity to explore life, a challenge to tackle, requiring different and creative ideas.

There is no plan B

Turn back time to late 2019. 2019-11-05, 1:17am, a tweet, a role in Developer Relations, an idea I toyed with already. Start a new adventure? Yes ... fast forward a few weeks, the first interview rounds done. The big one is coming, an interview presentation panel. Schedule for mid December 2019, just a few weeks out to prepare a good talk, and especially a live demo.

A mix of nervosity, and unsafe feelings of what it should be. “Be creative, do something you love and be passionate about”, suggested Priyanka Sharma, my future manager. So I chose my favorite topic, monitoring and observability, and thought of potential story use cases. Wayyyy too many in my head to make it perfect back then.

From Monitoring to Observability: Challenges in a Cloud Native World

Monitoring a website for HTTP connections, and TLS certificate validity sounded reasonable, and good to explain to a wide audience. DNS would be too complicated.  My experience in developing monitoring tools, and managing infrastructure helped me with confidence.

The hard part for me was the website itself. I have a love-hate relationship with JavaScript, CSS and HTML. Ok, lets add the GitLab logo. Saw the site loading animation on and wanted to replicate it. After many hours, and trying different routes with CSS, Javascript and SVG, I found a codepen example, and it worked. More animations? Animate.css looked promising. But something was missing … and I remembered adding Clippy.js in previous demos. A Javascript variant of the small Windows assistant, with a gentle nudge from wizards to use the Web IDE, and consider family and friends - and pets.

Building the static website took me more time than creating a presentation story to tell, and the slides. Finding a GitLab slide template was challenging, but not hard, thanks to public presentations. Looking at it today, I might add some learnings from NodeJS, and CI/CD (I did in the GitLab project, e.g. npx serve to run a local webserver).

everyonecancontribute / web / · GitLab
Home of the funny demo site on (maintained by @dnsmichi)

A website needs a good domain, and in this specific case, GitLab-related, because creativity. Hmmmmm. Nah, too boring. Opened the GitLab handbook, and scanned it for sentences and familiar phrases. There it was: GitLab’s mission is “Everyone can contribute”, stuck in my head. Having worked with DNS and domains in my career, I quickly opened up my DNS registrar search form. “” was available. 1 Minute later, not anymore.

Nervous, excited, ready for the interview panel mid December 2019. Navigating through the presentation slides, focus on a good story, and then the demo moment “We are monitoring a website. Open the domain in your browser, too. It will be fun.”

This was my plan A. All in, for a dream job, and a new adventure.

In my first months at GitLab in 2020, we created the EveryoneCanContribute Cafe, a community coffee chat and meetup for learning technology together, live streamed on YouTube, low level of shame. Who remembers the 2.5 hours session learning Rust together?

The interview demo website lives on at the new domain: consuming less resources (no VM, just GitLab Pages).

3.5 years later, I am grateful for my time at GitLab, the cloud-native community, and the many friendships that have sparked since. I will always look back at moments like creating a website demo for an interview - a fresh mind, an opportunity to explore life, a challenge to tackle, requiring different and creative ideas.

Never stop learning.

Never give up.

Live your dreams.

Thrive in your role.

Put family and friends first.

There is no plan B.

There is a plan A.