Hindsight is 20/20, so what's the point if you don't share it with the world? Here's a few things I've been thinking about recently that I wish I could go back and tell fresh-out-of-college Kim. 'Cause man, she could have used a lot of help. 😂
I hope no one has to experience the wrath of Human Resources, but no-thanks to a unsafe work environment, I threw myself right into the wrath. What I didn't understand at the time, is that Human Resources is there for, and only for, the companies best interest. To keep things peaceful and make sure the company doesn't get sued. When I was put into a situation that sent me into a panic attack multiple times a day, I sought out all the help I could. And when team resources were no help, I went to HR to help get me out. After multiple meetings, and phone calls, and finally my refusal to leave the building, their solution was to let me go. In hindsight, I'm thankful for being proactive and finding another team within the company to hire me, because that's the only thing that saved my job. Stay out of HR Kim.
While in school, it seemed I was the only Computer Science major that had never fixed a virus (only downloaded a lot.. thanks MSN). But, I also had never taken a computer apart.. I couldn't have told you the difference between a CPU or a GPU. Cringe right? I had severe imposter syndrome.. not even syndrome. I was an imposter. Although I did everything I could think of to catch up, that feeling stayed with me for 3 years into my career (and even some days now). It wasn't until I started asking people more questions to realize they really didn't know any more than I did. They just knew the right people to ask, and the right questions. It was a severe realization that I have to remind myself to this day -- If the CTO of a company doesn't know everything, what makes you think you need to. You got this.
I grew up in a small town, everyone helped everyone sort of situation. There wasn't a rat race, or people stepping on others to get to the top. So what a realization it was when I found that someone on my team was claiming to have done all the work I did, leaving it look like I had done nothing. Or seeing teammates be let go out of no where due to project's coming up on end dates. Let people earn your trust by being proving themselves to be good co-workers and teammates. Don't just give it to them. Hopefully you're in a great environment where it doesn't take long to establish this trust. After all, you should be able to count on your teammates for help.
There were a lot of people early on in my career that encouraged me to 'stick with it' no matter how miserable I felt, no matter how many panic attacks I was having, this is it. Finally it got to a point I decided there HAD to be another way. I was considering getting out of tech if I had to, anything. Luckily I found that a new job had the potential to solve my problems. After a few more company changes, I knew the right questions to ask to find the red flags that weren't going to work for me. Finding a job that you love doing, with people who support you and have you're back, for a company that cares about you and your family is worth it every time. Life is too short to be miserable.
Mind. Blown. Whenever I visualized my first job, I always imagined by killing it, and being completely awesome at what-ever I did, the promotions and raises would come naturally. Kind of like the movies. Maybe I'd even have a mentor to advocate for me. My first raise-negotiation popped that bubble, hard. The cold realization that I had to fight for things like raises, and promotions, and argue with people about why I even had the right to sit in on a meeting was mind-blowing. If you don't fight for your career, who will? No one.
Personal ask: If someone is new to the industry where you work, offer to get coffee with them sometime and just talk. Non-judgementally. Having a safe space to ask some dumb questions will help so, so much!