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Nevertheless, She Persevered, With An Ask

Life's a never-ending roller coaster ride.

In 2016, I Started My Own Business

At the end of 2016, I left a 'normal' job to start my own consulting practice and to provide myself time to build out a product idea. And, maybe secretly, to take a break from the industry. I was a bit burnt out.

It was a combination of working in software consulting and often being one of two developers (or the only developer) on my team. I often felt I was scrambling to learn new technologies every month. On one project, my team of 3 had 2 months to produce a "production" ready platform from scratch, using a tech stack I had never used (RoR, Angular, Docker, Node/Sails.js, RDF Stores - a different kind of database). We somehow pulled it off, but I knew I never wanted to repeat that experience again. I had gotten used to 'learning fast', and I considered myself a quick learner, but it was tiring. Though it still continues in this industry.

In 2017, I Moved, and Began Again

2017 was a mixed year. I worked some, and I learned some. I took some time to learn more about starting a startup by attending MIT's Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. I had an idea brewing since 2013 or so and I wanted to see what I could do with it.

Starting a business was its own challenge, and without the right support network, it was hard. I moved back to my hometown to be closer to my family. I had been away for nearly a decade, and it was good to be home. I'm very lucky to have a family that's been supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavors.

2018 was Humbling

2018 was a strange year. Lots of false leads, lots of wasted time on opportunities that didn't work out. If I had known, I wouldn't have wasted that time and spent more time on my product. Lessons learned, you could say.

I also never thought about the cost of moving. Starting over in a new city with no professional network was challenging. It was like starting over.

This year, I learned the importance of time and outcomes. Self-employment is tricky. Sourcing work takes time, but sometimes the time cost is not worth the outcome. I also set aside time this year to learn more about the business side of things by pursuing an Executive MBA.

2019 was an Adventure

In 2019, I received an opportunity to join a startup and to help bring them to the next stage of development. It was challenging in many different ways. I was able to leverage my newly acquired business knowledge as well as my technical background. I enjoyed this jack-of-all-trades role.

I learned a lot last year, and I'm quite grateful for the opportunity. I also learned several key ingredients for a successful startup, and one was missing.

2020 - Into the Unknown...

It's not clear yet what 2020 will bring. I do know that for the near future, I intend to do what I originally set off to do - work on my product to help writers. Writing has always been a hobby of mine. I'll try my best not to get distracted again, a hard lesson learned through the years. It's been difficult to balance a zero-revenue product vs. income when working independently. I'm still fine-tuning that balance.

My Journey

I've been coding since I was 12 when I discovered Neopets. That led me to venture into the world of web design for fun. I never thought of it as a career, but life is strange like that. I began my career as a full stack Java developer over a decade ago. I've touched so many technologies since then, yet sometimes it seems like I've touched none at all. Now, I favor Javascript development and Vue.js. I'll always consider myself a full stack developer because I never want to stop learning about the latest tech and how I can use it to make better products.

But now, I care more about leadership and management. I'm interested in the business processes and understanding how that translates into development processes and ultimately work culture. I'm interested in discovering ways to make developers' lives better, but not necessarily through coding or technology, though not exclusive of those options either.

I'm not sure what kind of role that may be, so I'll end this with an ask: if you know of a role that matches that description, please comment with the job title.

Top comments (6)

missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham

Sounds similar to a product owner! Maybe look at a few reqs to see if that type of role would be a good fit.

rachel_cheuk profile image
Rachel • Edited

Thanks for your comment Amara! This was actually one of the first roles I explored years ago, though, after my exploration, I don't think it's quite what I'm looking for. I think I'd still prefer to be an engineer over a product owner/manager.

missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham

Even within that title I’ve seen companies have very different scopes depending on the product or team. But I’ll keep thinking of titles that might interest you!

Thread Thread
rachel_cheuk profile image
Rachel • Edited

Totally! I've heard there are several flavors of this role - some are more marketing focused, while some are more technically focused. Though I think based on my research, it would still exist outside engineering, and I think I'm not quite ready to completely detach myself from engineering processes. Though I think it'll still be worth a deeper exploration across company types when I'm ready for my next adventure.

I would appreciate any other ideas that come to mind. Thank you! :)

kamranayub profile image
Kamran Ayub

Sounds like an IT Management Consultant, I recommend following and reading his material!

rachel_cheuk profile image

Thanks for your comment Kamran! Now following!

I used to work in a management consulting firm, and I thought it was quite a good fit. I was brought in through a developer requisition, so I never thought of it as being an IT Management Consultant. For the most part, I was just a developer, but I observed and learned skills I otherwise might not have had I not been at that firm. It also explains a lot of things I've observed but wasn't able to piece together - a lot of skills developed in that role go unnoticed when speaking with engineering teams because they simply don't need it (i.e. client relationship, and even full-stack development, for highly specialized teams).

I need to explore it again from a different perspective. I appreciate your input!!! Thank you!

Timeless DEV post...

Git Concepts I Wish I Knew Years Ago

The most used technology by developers is not Javascript.

It's not Python or HTML.

It hardly even gets mentioned in interviews or listed as a pre-requisite for jobs.

I'm talking about Git and version control of course.

One does not simply learn git