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Cover image for The time I spoke up for myself and it backfired

The time I spoke up for myself and it backfired

zacharythomasstone profile image Zachary Stone Updated on ・7 min read

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

Falling Cliff

Making headway into a new career is very difficult.

Doing that in a career that constantly changes is even harder!

Doing both of those in a career that has a massive amount of information you can learn, and there isn't a "right path" to take makes it extremely difficult to know what to do.

It's funny, the difficult part of being a Jr Dev isn't struggling with what you know but grappling with the idea that you don't know everything.

You can't google all the answers, and some mountains you can't climb, yet.

This one truth that many have a hard time grappling, saves you from falling backward on your own butt. It saves you from over-estimating, and over-promising. It saves you from accepting an offer from a company that you are unsure of. And this one truth would have kept me from the most difficult situation I have ever been in.

Side Note: It's been a while since it all happened, and it took me this long to process this life lesson, and for my ass to heal from falling on it when I lost my grip climbing a mountain I had no business climbing in the first place.

The Beginning

The Beginning

I graduated from a local Bootcamp after doing the online program back in 2017 in the .NET/C# program. I was working at a call center at the time, and after being there nearly 3 years, I wanted a job that would be more like a career, and a career that would challenge me, where I could problem-solve daily. I found that in software development, and was sticking around at my job hoping to be hired onto the Dev team. This is when I got the first taste of wanting to prove myself as a young dev in the field. I pitched a project with my friend that got approved, but I offered to do it for free. Undervaluing myself and not giving me any headway to be on the Dev team. I ended up working at another company that got bought out in the 9 months of me working there, and all the dev's were laid off. That's when I found myself working at my second job, where this story truly begins.


Don't ignore the red flags!

Red Flags

The interview process was strange, it wasn't designed to check my skill set, but only had questions to see what I was exposed to in terms of tech and programming languages, and they seemed overly eager to hire me.

When asked what I expected to get paid I responded with "well, I got paid ##,#### at my last job, so that would be nice." The hiring manager said "DONE!" and I was no longer unemployed.

There were multiple times where I was pumping the breaks and telling the higher up who was our team manager, that I was just a JR Dev, and I hope they understand that. He assured me that they hired me, not ultimately for my skill set, but my overall demeanor. I was settled with that answer and started working.

At first, things were slow, in fact, onboarding was almost nonexistent, I mainly took my time doing training. The team I worked with was exceptional, and we just clicked right away. In fact, I talk to 4 of my old Devs regularly.

Then, I started being put on projects and having the rug pulled under me. At first, it was small but strange. Our manager asked if anyone has heard about PowerBI, and I said I knew of it and started going through a training course at my previous job, and that I thought our team could go through training and utilize it for a client. No response, then a week later... SURPRISE! I was on a call with a client and was introduced as the "PowerBI expert".

I then was placed on call with a client I had no idea who they were or what they needed, and they asked me questions about integrating with Office 365 that I knew nothing about. I tried to remain positive, offered to reach out to our Microsoft representative and I got the info back to them at the end of the day. The next day I was removed from the client without any explanation.

Then, I was asked to lead a team to come up with a cloud solution so we could host all of our client's websites on the cloud, and move away from our servers so we could save 60k in licensing fees. I researched for weeks in a panic, I knew very little about hosting, let alone hosting on a cloud. I tried my best, came back with pricing, and was shot down. They wanted to use Azure because of the Microsoft Credits they had, but I showed them that the package they had would introduce major latency issues, and all the client's websites would loud 3xs slower. I was taken off the project.


The straw that broke the camels back

Bob's Burgers Straws

The worst situation I have ever been in. This one was a project where I was way over my head. But a project that started as 3 Devs and a Project manager, ended up being me and one senior and no project manager, and we had no work items. I had no idea what I was supposed to be working on, and my Senior had meetings every day gathering details on what the project even was. It was a nightmare; I was developing along and was not a part of any of the meetings. I did have a part in the initial meetings at first, but the meetings that mattered I wasn't in. The Senior Dev knew what to do but didn't have time to play the role of Project Manager and Senior Dev, and our Project Manager was nowhere on site. On top of that, the client was losing money every month.

The amount of stress I was under was overwhelming. I lost weight, almost stopped eating completely, and didn't sleep well. I was in WAY over my head, and I was partly to blame. I was partly to blame because I had been so focused on saying yes to anything that made me look good. And, I would say yes in fear that I would lose my job. It's strange when you have a skill set, and some say in what you will work on, oftentimes you don't speak up for yourself until it's too late.

I was miserable and I knew I had to do something about it. I met with my Senior Dev, told him everything. And we came up with a plan for me to move onto the Web Development team, instead of working on applications, then pull someone with more experience (the third dev who was supposed to work on the project with us in the first place.) My whole team came around me and understood, they supported me. It was all perfect, and I was relieved. Then, I met my Project Manager who recently became our team lead... and everything came crashing around me. She had printed out my resume and had it face down on her desk, and the whole time she accused me of "jumping ship" and kept reading the experience I had listed on my resume. (which, had nothing to do with the technology we were working with...) I tried not to come off defensive, but I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. I told her the whole team supported this and didn't see this as jumping ship, and that this change would benefit everyone. She said she would get back to me.


Two days later, they fired me.

You're Fired

I would like to say that I didn't find myself angry. I would like to say that, but it wouldn't be true. Anger wasn't the first thing I felt, but it came later. Only I wasn't angry at my job, I was angry at myself. I blamed myself for months. Was it merited? Sort of.


Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.

Young Frankenstien

Those are the thoughts that keep you up at night. The "What if I did that differently?" They are the real moments you would use a time machine to recorrect. But you can't. All you can do is learn from those moments and grow from them. To let go of anger and bitterness and heal.


The takeaway

The More You Know

As a Jr Dev, you will be tempted to ignore red flags, to take whatever job you can get, to say yes to any opportunity that makes you look willing, and to hide your insecurities and say you understand, when you really don't. Don't do that! Seriously, don't! It will only hurt you in the end and will make your team weaker for it. Strive to see red flags and react responsibly. If you need to take a day to think about a decision, do it! Don't be afraid to ask for time to give an answer, or when asked if you understand to respond with "could you explain that to be a bit more?" People respect someone who is truly trying to fully understand.

I can say, without a doubt. I have grown in this situation. I didn't grow much as a programmer in my skills, but I learned a skill that has freed me up to grow a ton in my new job, and that is transparency. I have learned what ledges I won't climb alone, or not at all yet. But I am always willing to examine and see if it's possible, and many times I am surprised at what I can accomplish!

This work is hard, but it's wonderful and beautiful. Keep pushing forward!

Discussion (3)

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wizlee profile image
Wiz Lee

Glad everything work out well now! Totally empathize with what you had been through, think this applies to any developers not just the juniors. Software development is wide and evolving, no one can logically know everything.

All the best in your journey ahead!

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zacharythomasstone profile image
Zachary Stone Author

I changed up the formatting a bit and added some GIFs to break up this long body of the text. I really appreciate your comment and that you even sat and read everything I wrote. It's encouraging to know this doesn't just happen to Jr Devs and that the industry as a whole isn't like this.

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wizlee profile image
Wiz Lee

Yea it looks more appealing now =) To be frank at the start i was going to stop reading but somehow i kept going. Glad I did cause it's a lesson that I need to be reminded too ;)