5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Past Self

Kim Arnett  on August 11, 2018

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 c... [Read Full]
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  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

 

This is a great reply to supplement the post 💪🕺

 

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 :)

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 
  • “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’”
 

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 (~°-°)~

 

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

 

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.

 

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 dev.to, 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!

 

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.

 
  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.

 

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.

 

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.

 
 

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!

 

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.

 

Yep, ..aham..yes...aham...yep...pretty much.

As for the coffee, a talk is always great, and it will natural evolve to their both common interests, and unicorns are born!!

 

This is a good list. I don't really remember who I was 40 years ago when I was starting out, but these things are definitely among the ones that would have helped.

 

Excellent first read after being away from the community for a while, thanks Kim.

 
 

Always remember:

  • A day without learning is a day wasted... even if what you learned was that person X is a pain in the butt until their 3rd coffee.
  • Not all males are women haters, many of them are borderline autistic extreme introverts that are incapable of interacting with anyone that isn't the same geekiness as them. Watch out for pidgeon-holing. (Also there are a large pile of A-holes that don't want to work with a woman, be smarter than they are!)
  • Beware of extremely deep segmented knowledge. You'd be surprised how many people can't talk intelligently about anything outside of their expertise and it makes them look like morons (Definition of Phd: Someone that knows everything about almost nothing). Learn bits of everything, it will make you much more valuable to a team and an organization and you'd be surprised how often you opinion about unrelated things will be requested (related to 'think outside the box').
  • Always be able to talk something down. I mean that being able to explain something to someone that has no clue (with appropriate metafores) can be invaluable. You'd be surprised how useful this is when dealing with people that don't speak your native language (e.g. ESL). Keeping the vocabulary small can be invaluable... I've also found that people that insist on speaking as if they've memorized a thesaurus typically have limited knowledge or are just attempting to show off.
 
 

Ah #1 HR -- recently had to learn this the hard way

 
 

I recently joined a company with helpful teammates, till now didn't faced any difficulty. So as a fresher in this industry your post was really helpful, thanks.

 

I know some folks will be annoyed that I even brought this up, but I can't help but wonder how much things were more difficult than they should have been because of your gender.

My wife works as a developer for a large financial institution and while we can't prove any of the problems she's had have been gender related you don't see the male developers having the same issues even though she's at least as productive as they are (she has the reputation for being the one you come too if you're stuck on a problem, because she'll get you unstuck).

 

Ya know- the thought has passed my mind, and I can definitely isolate some of my experiences (not so much in this article) as being directly correlated to my gender. But I’ve also learned that some experiences are relevant to everyone- it’s just sometimes women are more vocal about it then men. Which is what brings me to write articles like this.
But when I do write articles over my gender-related experiences people get pissed. So please keep talking about it! 💚

 

Absolutely doing that, not just because of what I've seen of my wife's experience but also simply because it needs to be done.

A lot of what she's had happen to her... you can't necessarily put your finger on it and say it's DEFINITELY because of gender, but unequal systems thrive on plausible deniability, which... well, I'm sure you don't need me to mansplain that to you. So I won't.

But thanks for the great read, I'm just getting ready to get back into the work-for-pay thing after spending a few years at home with our kid and there was definitely a lot here for me to take to heart. ❤️

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