2020 was a year of significant growth for me - I had started with a set of goals, some quite lofty, and some that I could just not prioritize at this time. Ultimately, I feel like I ended in a place where I was more confident in myself and put myself into a place that has given me a chance to sky rocket my growth at the start of this year.
At the start of last year I was working at Epic Systems, 6 months into my official role as a "Software Developer". I worked incredibly hard while working to get the experience and qualifications necessary to reach that level, with the support of my partner and my team lead at the time.
My work leading up to that transfer led me to be trusted with some deep technical projects on our team, and previous experience as a Software Test Engineer put me in a strong position to help out with performance. The projects were hard, but not just technically or in terms of functionally, but in terms of timelines imposed by project leads and expectations. This wasn't just my team but across the company - it also didn't feel like it was out of the norm.
On top of this since I was new to the role I felt like I was constantly fighting to "prove" myself. I was told that I shouldn't, but my base personality just can't help but feel competitive and making sure that I'm doing "good enough". This was compounded by the fact that I was only paid at the starting salary of a new developer (who are commonly hired directly out of college). My team leads tried to assure me I had to "room to grow" and I had nothing to prove, as I was already a high performer - but why wasn't I paid like one?
Ultimately, I did not feel this was right and found a new job by the end of the year. I was extremely down by no longer feeling supported where I previously was, and had wanted to give so much time back to.
Despite ending on a bitter note I was extremely proud of where I was. I learned how to value myself, the value of my time, and am starting to value my knowledge beyond the level of a "new developer". I had experiences with team leads who were actually not as supportive as the ones I've had in the past, and taught me how to ask more for what I need for guidance in order to grow.
At the start of 2021, I begin the first workday at a new company, one much much smaller than I had spent the last 5 years in. It was refreshing. The proceses are flexible, the culture is more relaxed, people have more ownership. It took me no time to get up to speed on the technologies that I was not familiar with (largely Docker), and I was quickly able to contribute - the best part was that I felt like I was doing a normal amount of work, but it was called out as pleasant surprise. I now knew I was not as junior as I was made to feel at Epic.
I asked a ton of questions in my first few weeks. I wanted to know the company, why things were the way they are, and to see what can change and be made better. Despite ending a bit bitter, I learned a lot at Epic, and I feel motivated to carry some of those ideals forward, or to learn and do the things I didn't like better. I believe this has helped me to stand out among my peers. I'm used to listening more than asking questions, but I feel like I have a stronger foundation to justify the questions I'm now asking... and it's empowering.
Several weeks into the job, I asked about the potential move to being a team lead within a time frame and when everyone felt I was up to speed enough of the base workings. Our team was technically very large, too large for our current team lead to manage effectively. To my surprise this opportunity presented itself sooner than I ever expected, and now I'm currently acting as lead for my team, which is a truly exciting place to be in. I get to work on code frequently, but I now can help drive a product forward more actively, and work to give my team the best environment to grow how they need.
Having reached my goal from the previous year of being a team lead, but doing it a new company, I have a whole new set of things to work. This isn't the end of writing code for me - being on a small team I will still frequently get to excercise those bits of my job, and hope to continue to grow technically and to carry forward my previous experience to be a resource for my team and company as a technical leader.
But now with my new responsibilities, I hope to learn how to guide and mentor younger developers, and support and help more senior developers still get what they need out of their work. I hope to grow my skills in project planning and estimation and help increase the output by my team, without putting them through death marches. I truly want my team to be healthy, and strong, and enjoy what they do. I know I'm likely being a wide-eyed naive baby team lead, and I'm going to make mistakes, but that's ok.
Most of all I don't want to lose the curiosity I've grown from being a devloper, in fact, I hope to continue become even more curious about what I can do next.