I'm Denis - I am a Web Developer and an IT mentor at CoderDojo. And I want to ask you a very important question
I believe that understanding what makes you happy is probably one of the most important drivers for your career. And this question is much more complex than it seems to be. It requires a lot of self-awareness and experimentations.
I'd like to share with you my absolute truths that I've found out working on different positions with different teams and of different projects. This article is inspired by Monica Lent's great story "7 absolute truths I unlearned as junior developer"
I'd like to start with a kind of obvious topic, but extremely important. The people around you influence your mental health more than anything else even in current conditions. This is true both in positive and negative directions. Being in a toxic environment is awful and if you are in such one, you should definitely find a way to change it. There is a popular opinion that you have to stay in one workplace no matter what to avoid having a resume full of short stints. The truth is that in a toxic environment you won't have the motivation to grow and share, and you'll end up a less valuable and employable specialist. So, there's nothing more important than your mental health.
I'm happy I've never been in a toxic environment though.
Once our team had got a junior developer who was full of energy, constantly learning something new and sharing this with others, it literally changed the spirit of the team. This growing mindset spread among the people. Btw he has become one of the best young web devs I know in person now.
You are the arithmetic mean of the people around you. Try to surround yourself with people who grow fast, and, on the other hand, be the one who shares his/her energy with others. It pays back. I promise.
At the beginning of my career path, I thought that as a developer you can simply be a working bee or the leader or manager-dev. Now I understand that it's not that simple. The development process is very complex, and to be a developer does not only mean to write code. Try to analyze what makes you feel happy in terms of non-coding responsibilities. Some questions I'd suggest to ask yourself:
- Do you like to have an influence on the product?
- Are you the kind of person who wants to "just do their job" and be involved in any meetings as less as possible?
- What pace of development is the most comfortable for you?
- Do you like to interact with other team members a lot?
- Do you like to teach people?
- Do you like to be taught by other people?
- Do you like to be involved in the client's business processes?
- Do you like trying new things?
There are no right or wrong answers. Thinking about these things you can find out what role in the team suites you. I believe that you cannot find an ideal workplace. But you can create it, knowing your needs.
I'm a teacher by nature. At my workplace, I help a lot to my colleagues, teaching them new things. I mentor the interns and do the lectures for them to end other colleagues. I'm also a volunteer IT mentor for children at CodeDojo.
It's important for me to be involved in shaping the product I build. I really like to interact with other team members. I like startup-like pushing super-fast pace of development. I'm into trying a lot of new things.
If some of these needs are not satisfied in my workplace I find another way to do it. For example, I participate in Hackathons (and suggest you try too. It's magical).
The ideal team for me is the one who can literally break the walls to overcome the problems. And I'm extremely happy to be surrounded by such people.
I must confess. Early in my career, I silently blamed the people for the fact that they don't want to grow fast, like the comfortable process of delivery, spend too much time on polishing things more than it's needed, don't like to communicate with others much. The truth is that we all are different and it's absolutely normal, that other people are driven by different things than you.
It's super important to find work-life balance. Find time not only for learning and work but also for building healthy relationships with your friends and family, and for your hobby. If you neglect any of these, the others will be ruined soon.
By the way, I'm interested in what your hobbies are. Please share it with us in the comment session! I'm a fire-show artist and volunteer IT mentor for children. I also like board games and conduct board games events for children and adults.
Despite everything I've said, you are not your job. You don't have to stay at work more than you are paid for. But I believe that you should strive to find or create a place where you want to stay longer. Anyway, really important, listen to yourself and take a pause if needed. And never try to escape other life problems via working more. It's very unhealthy.
Don't blame yourself for being unproductive today. It's normal! :)
This is extremely important for developers. The wold around is changing constantly and the fact that you cannot be on top of all the new technologies generates a lot of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Trust me, even the most senior people feel it. Just learn to live with it. Think of the gap in your knowledge as a growth opportunity!
It's not easy to find out what's important for you. But it's the key to find (or more precisely to create) the best workplace for you. Invest in your self-awareness. It really pays back.
Thank you for reading my article. Peace!