Photo by Sonny Ravesteijn on Unsplash
In the blink of an eye, I'm now at my second anniversary at my first engineering job. I thought it would be a good opportunity to sit down and gather my thoughts (since I never did the first anniversary write-up).
I'm 37 years old, work in Silicon Valley, have a BA in English, and had over 12 years of experience in customer-facing roles before going to Hackbright Academy (an all women's coding bootcamp in San Francisco; blog post on the experience) and then becoming a software engineer.
In the spirit of scrum retrospectives, let's list the things that went well, didn't go well, and could be improved over the past two years. Starting from negatives to positives.
- I continue to have bouts of impostor syndrome. Every now and then I'll be working on a big, highly-visible feature and think, "Holy crap, why would they give me this project? Don't they know I've only been coding for less than two years altogether!?!!!!!?!? I STILL DON'T KNOW HOW TO TRAVERSE A GRAPH ON THE WHITEBOARD." And when that happens, I let the thought come and go and remind myself, "Chung, this isn't the first highly-visible feature that you've worked on. And the last one you worked on, you delivered it on-time and to-spec. You'll most likely do the same on this project, too."
- I still make bugs. (Read: HOLY CRAP, I'M HUMAN AFTER ALL!) I refer to it as "job security" to lighten the mood but, they happen and they are oh so humbling.... And I'm learning to accept this truth (while still trying to minimize the bugs).
- My codebase knowledge + my hyper-organized tendencies (evidence) = ridiculous productivity. I think back on when I first started and I struggled so much with everything. (Ugh CSS. Ugh installing Node.) Now I'm able to restructure how we parse a ton of entities and generate a brand new page / component within a week's time. All the while, helping to review code, answering questions*, and moving projects along. Hooray, productivity!
- * Segue about answering questions: Remember how I mentioned that I worked in customer-facing roles for 12+ years? Turns out that answering technical questions doesn't really require a lot of specific technical knowledge, but rather 1. a keen eye (thank you, BA in English) and 2. a boatload of patience. When folks come over to ask me questions, I patiently listen (even though I have no idea what the actual answer is) and half of the time, by the end of telling me, they'll have figured it out. Or as they walk through it, I'll spot a typo or an errant space and boom! problem solved.
- I've been rewarded for my hard work, from a raise, promotion, and winning the "Values in Actions" award at the company-level. It's really nice to be recognized and appreciated for my contributions.
- Before making the decision to quit my comfortable job, going to a bootcamp, and venturing into a career I didn't know much about (at age 35!), I was legitimately worried that I wouldn't like it. I'm happy to report that after two years: I love it! The computer-facing work suits my introverted heart nicely (read: not client-facing, not a ton of meetings). And the detailed, technical work itself is challenging and highly addictive for someone like me.
- I feel my learning plateauing lately, which is natural, but I shouldn't let that inertia build. There's still so much I want to learn, and I need to prioritize that.
- I definitely haven't hand-lettered as much punny code as I could:
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Yep, that about sums it up. Two years gone in a flash. And if this diagram that I drew of Ken Mazaika's post still holds true, I'm officially an "experienced dev". Woohoo!
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