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Developer Documentation I've Used Throughout My Career

There are a few personal documents I've used at various stages in my career so far, in this post I share descriptions of these docs and how I used them.

The Surprise Journal

Credit: How I hacked my imposter syndrome using personal tracking by Lin Taylor

This document is a spreadsheet with the headings "Date", "What I was surprised or confused by", "What I thought would happen", "What actually happened", "What did I learn", "Notes", "Categories", "Related PR" that I used largely in my first two years working as a developer to build up the habit of investigation. It helped me reflect and track my learning, and to see patterns in areas where I was lacking experience or knowledge.

The Brag Document

Credit: Get your work recognized: write a brag document by Julia Evans

This is a document of achievements (big & small) during my time working at a given company. I used it consistently 2017-2020, sometimes for review by a manager but largely for myself to map specific examples to the corporate career rubric.
In 2020 I added a timeline view of this work since the impact evaluations were also time sensitive.
I've added an outline of what mine looked like below, but I highly recommend reading the original post by Julia Evans linked above and trying out what works for you!

Brag Document Outline:

## YEAR Brag Document

### Goals
Goals for that given year. Some examples include giving an internal talk etc.

### Projects
- Table with headings: "Project", "Contributions", "Impact", "Results", "Personal takeaways"

### Collaboration & mentorship
Specific mentoring experiences and formal roles go here

### Company building
Interviewing candidates

### Organizing
- Lunch n Learns you've hosted, events you've run

### Outside of work
- Here you can list blog posts, conferences spoken at/attended etc
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1:1 Note Taking

My most effective 1:1s were ones I had prepared for and shared a set of talking points with my lead. Doing so helped guide the conversation, and ensured my points were getting addressed.
It also provided a historical record of what had been discussed in each 1:1, which helped frame the overall arc of the conversation. I also used the brag document and surprise journal to help me come up with talking points that helped with reflecting on and furthering my career.
In terms what specific tools I used to do this; notes were mostly taken collaboratively in Fellow but Notion or something similar would work just as well.
Weekly 1:1s are easy to start taking for granted, but they can be a powerful tool for improving your overall job satisfaction. Do not hesitate to take what you need from that time!

Top comments (6)

alekswritescode profile image
Aleks Popovic

I've read Julia's article earlier and it's really something to think about. I started using Notion a few months ago for writing down random notes, ideas and blog/video scripts and it's awesome. I really love the option to export text as markup. It makes it very handy to just plop the file into Gatsby and everything is rendered perfectly.

deusmxsabrina profile image

I really like notion because of the different visual formatting options, helps break up a wall of text. Thank you for the comment Aleks!

kewbish profile image
Emilie Ma

Like the idea of a brag document - kinda the opposite of a failure resume!

deusmxsabrina profile image

Exactly! This is the first I've heard of a failure resume, I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!

anzhari profile image
Anzhari Purnomo

My first entry on my surprise journal: writing brag journal and surprise journal is surprisingly interesting and potentially very useful.

Thanks for sharing!

deusmxsabrina profile image

Thank you for reading! Best of luck, I hope they serve you well ✨