Lessons Learned 1 Year

The lessons I've learned so far with one year in actual industry
life lessons

A year already?

What a year it has been. And you know what, where did the time go? As much fun as it has been, I’ve also learned a few lessons along the way. Some were easy to chew, others; not so much! I plan to make this an annual review to see what insights I draw as I progress. It will be fun to read these down the road. Well here they are in no particular order:

A) Listen and learn

This isn’t some major revelation; it’s basically common sense. But I’ve noticed many developers, including myself have a tendency to hear a problem and already start thinking about how best to begin tackling it. Even worse, we’re already giving knee jerk answers before we’ve heard everything. I’ve also caught myself listening but not learning anything from what I’ve just heard. Too often, I am already thinking of the response that I’ll need to say.

One of the things I have learned from the wizard is to be calculated in my responses now. I don’t always do this, but day by day, I am getting better. I’ve made it a point to actually listen, think, and then answer. That way the answer will be at least semi decent. This also applies to life, not just in software development field. So, remember that it is OK to pause before answering.

B) Hedge my expectations

What I mean by this is, what you hear and see others are doing is not necessarily what you’ll be doing, nor will it be what you should be doing. Just because your friends are using Kafka, running on Kubernetes, monitored by IronChefer(I made that up) doesn’t mean you’ll need to do this as well. I’m a serial side project starter and new tech junkie. I found myself recommending tools that we had no need for. I’m glad I had others to help me see the trap for what it really is.

C) Stay curious and have fun

It is now my personal opinion that to remain relevant, you must also remain curious. I think that curiosity is what drives most to this field. All the constant learning that we do, the deep dives into subjects that will help us solve problems are due to curiosity. This also allows us to continue to learn. I find that it is easy to spot those who have stopped being curious.

Curiosity and enjoying what you do will naturally go hand in hand. Even as I sit and write this, I can believe how incredibly lucky I am to wake up and work in what feels like a hobby and earn a living from it.

D) Don’t give exact dates

Oh, how I learned this one the hard way. Unless you’re a contractor, don’t be pressured into giving exact dates. It only took once for me to regret this, but I’m glad I learned it early on. The popular advice out there on the interwebs is to double your estimate, when asked to give one.

E) Don’t take code reviews personally

You know, I feel like I’m a nice guy. So, I would always ask myself “why am I being picked on?” whenever I saw a comment I disagreed on. But, I’ve come to realize not to take them personally anymore. Comments such as “Why did you choose that variable name?” use to really annoy me, but now I brush them off. I’ve realized that in person, these would normally be said in better tones but they may not come across the same in text. Still, when I am commenting on code reviews, I always remember that another human is on the other side of those comments. I think more of us would do well to learn this. However, I’ve learned to no only not take these comments to heart but also that most developers are not really good at communicating.

F) I’m still just an employee

It gets so easy for me to fall into the trap of always trying to impress; it’s just in my nature at this point. But realistically no matter how impressive your code and work ethic are, at the end of the day, you are an employee at a company. Even if you love creating software outside of work, you should actually spend those hours outside of work. The first six months felt like I needed to prove something, but I’ve come to terms with it. I was even afraid to take PTO, but like everyone will tell you, taking a break is very important. Don’t be afraid an use all those perks (PTO and such) to enjoy work and life. Work-life balance is important for your mental health.

PS- Keep a work journal

Well that was all I highlighted for now in my work journal. Actually if I can give you a tip, it’s to keep a work journal. Write any and everything down you can while at work. That way you can:

  1. account for your time
  2. track your progress and decision making
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