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Kim Arnett 
Kim Arnett 

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5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Past Self

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. 😂

1. HR is never on your side

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.

2. No one knows everything

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.

3. Not everyone is here to help

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.

4. Happiness is always worth it

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.

5. No one else will fight for your career

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!

Top comments (31)

windsingereu profile image
  1. HR I underwent a similar path but luckily (for me) had the opposite experience, however like you i would still inform my little-me the same as you. NEVER assume HR is there to help you, they serve the company's best interest. Having that in mind you can still turn things "to help the company" ;-)
  2. Amen
  3. Trust & respect is earned, not given for free, always be on your guard.
  4. Amen, Do what you feel you can contribute the best with.
  5. Amen, To add, learn to ask your manager during 1 on 1 meetings what (s)he thinks you can do better or do really well. Also discuss career growths in advance so you can work on it as a personal/unit/company target.

To add a mix of your experiences and my own,

  • No is a perfectly valid answer, even to your manager/CEO. Learn to explain or ask if your current work needs to be dropped, delayed or transferred though. It's better to be honest if you do not have time for something, than to create more problems that might escalate later.
  • Know when to speak, and when not to speak, considering the consequences first.
  • Avoid people with a "9-5 + i'm not payed for this + cant be arsed to learn/train this or that" mentality. They're generally a source of negativity and are stuck where they are with no desire for self-improvement.
  • Learn how to fish, ask to be taught to fish, do not ask for fish.
  • Document/Archive your achievements

My biggest learning moment was:
Everyone has their own method of communicating, Looks past how someone is behaving/talking/dressing. Rather look at how their information can help you. Sometimes a person can be rude af, however if their knowledge is spot on, find a way to deal with it or invest time on why they are like that.
Since in the end it's YOU who is achieving something, not them.

Also... i aimed to make a much shorter comment, i blame you! nice article <3

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

This is a great reply to supplement the post 💪🕺

malgosiastp profile image

Good article. And I agree, at least partially, with all your points :)

The wierd thing is, that probably even hearing those advices at the beginning of your career, won't make you believe in them completely :D

Sometimes you just need to experience those things and learn them the hard way. Also had some quite rough disappointments at the beginning of my developer careers but... now I'm glad it happened at the beginning :) When I got back on my feet I realized it just made me stronger and better prepared for next chellanges :)

Anyway :) Always good to read some advices and see things from someone else perspective :) Thanks for sharing :)

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Sometimes you just need to experience those things and learn them the hard way

I couldn't agree more with this.
People usually read/see what they want to see.

Unless someone experience the pain, brain might not learn the lesson.

craigbutcher profile image
Craig Butcher

I had a few fights with HR in different companies when it came to highlighting poor management of the team. I almost got the full brunt of being made a scapegoat in these situation because I’m a rebel and a true believer that someone should stand up to protect the team (I can’t help it, I always speak up). It’s part of my hearing loss which it has affected most of my life fighting against discrimination. I’m still standing and learning.

bbookman profile image

Fantastic insights. I have been in HR hell in my past as well. And after being laid off I learned the hard lesson of #5.

I too came into my career from a place of trust and respect. And was shocked when I learned how underhanded and devious the world of work can be. Unfortunately you must always look out for yourself. And as Windsinger below points out - document everything

Also, as an older worker in the tech industry I can't say how important #4 is. For most first world folks - life will be long. If you can avoid the pain of unhappy situations - DO IT. Anxiety is not something you want to mess around with. It can lead to all sorts of health issues down the road and shorten your life.

Thank you so much for this article. I hope many read it and take the advice

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

If someone is new to the industry where you work, offer to get coffee with them sometime and just talk.

On both sides of the relationship, I need to do this way more often. So many great things in my career have come from these moments, but I don't do this nearly enough still.

mmarinez20 profile image
Manuel Mariñez

Hey Kim, been following for a while and this really rings the bell, I've been struggling to learn everything to become a developer... And still not really sure in what 😅(mobile, automation, cloud), besides knowing good practices and trying to push a bit more everyday it really feels overwhelming, Im still a student btw and while I was reading your post I had a relieve, kinda odd 😅, have a great day and keep it up (~°-°)~

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

You still have time to figure it out! Just keep navigating towards the things you like to do. The rest will follow 🎉

ignoreintuition profile image
Brian Greig
  • “Your smarter thank you think you are”
  • “Everyone is making it up as they go along”
  • “Break things early and often”
  • “It is ok to build on things people have done before you”
  • “Never hesitate to say ‘I don’t know’”
jenshine profile image
jenshine • Edited

Wow, spot on... Are you me or am I you? Thanks for sharing. I pretty much have or am still experiencing all of the 5 things you wrote about. The only one that isn't identical is #1, but I am being cautious because just like you said, as much as HR seem like they're there to help, they work for the company at the end of the day. Again, thank you for sharing. It's comforting to know that these feelings and experiences aren't unique to me.

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

That’s exactly why I share! 🎉

kharouk profile image
Alex Kharouk • Edited

Hey Kim. Your last tip really hits home with me. Before becoming a developer-in-training, I really struggled with not being able to control my career. It always felt like I had to just do my job and not ask questions.

I never thought I had to fight for what I needed. There was a lot of unhappiness. I'm glad I got out and decided to train as a developer and thanks for writing this post. It has shed some light on what I should do once I'm out of training.

robencom profile image

I like the second point the most: No one knows everything.

It saddens me to see the trouble we put each other go through. This is why I love, this community should grow more and more so we finally understand each other and understand our common problems and fix them.

You are right, Kim, we need to share it all with the world!

jasoki profile image
Jason Kim

This is a realistic look at the tech industry. It would be nice if everyone were there to help and look out for each other. But reality is that many coworkers see you as a competitor and act accordingly. And at the same time, how could you blame them because everyone else treats everyone else the same way. Thanks, Kim.

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair
  1. I've seen this go both ways, but in general I try to avoid getting HR involved in anything for exactly the reasons you mention.
  2. Damn right. When I go into the kitchen at work, some people know how to use the microwave, some the fridge (it's trickier than would seem possible) and some the coffee machine... every day super intelligent fresh-from-degree programmers stand around there like lost lambs desperately trying to fix a drink without looking like they're stumped. It's not just your specific career path, it's everything.
  3. It's really easy (well I think it is) to just go on assuming that everyone's doing things because they're basically nice and if they take credit for your work then it's just a silly mistake. After a few occasions like that, you need to take a step back and reconsider.
  4. Yep. If you're not happy (and you're not stuck somewhere because e.g. you're out of money and it's all you can find) change it. Maybe you can't change the world, but you can change your world.
  5. I dunno. Sometimes you find out that someone has put in a good word for you without mentioning it :)

If you ever do find a way to tell this to your past self, CC baby-me in.

theoutlander profile image
Nick Karnik • Edited

Hence, I am a full-time independent consultant and mentor.

This is identical to my past experience. I ran into all of these @ MSFT. For a moment, I thought maybe you worked there. :D

Another point is to focus on your personal relationships. Whatever feature team you work on or product that you release is pointless in the grand scheme of things. I often see posts like, "I'm so happy to be a part of this talented team. This is the feature that we shipped.". Really, it doesn't matter.

Often companies will lead you to believe that your work is important and it is making a difference. Unless your work is DIRECTLY saving lives, it is not that important. It is just a job. There's no point working longer than 7-8 hours.

maidoesthings profile image
Mai Nguyen

The first point is so relevant to me at the moment! I had to learn it the hard way, but at least I learned it sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing these tips Kim!

darryl profile image
Darryl Young

Thanks for sharing, Kim. A lot of this resonates with me but in particular, "Life is too short to be miserable" is one that I took way too long to appreciate.

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