Onwards and upwards

It’s been a busy few weeks. After four years with some wonderful people, I left my previous job and accepted a Senior Backend Engineer role at GitLab. I’m sad to be saying goodbye to coworkers I’ve become very attached to, but e x t r e m e l y excited for what’s next.

Looking backwards, what are a few things I learned or re-learned over the past four years?

  • Your network is worth its weight in gold. There are people I haven’t worked with for years that I still keep in touch with. They’re good friends, and they were critical in helping me find the clarity and confidence to think seriously about my career progression. There are several people at the job I’m leaving now that I hope I’ll still be in touch with years from now.
  • If you focus on too many things at once, you might do a bad job at all of them. Some of the most frustrating projects I’ve worked on where where we put important work on the back-burner to chase an opportunity, missed it, and ended up behind on everything. Of course, hind-sight is 20/20.
  • Documentation is one of the best ways to scale yourself. “Handing over” a project by linking to a document you wrote a year ago is a nice feeling.
  • I really like remote work. I worked mostly in-office until 2019, 90% in-office until 2020 and fully remote since then. It would take a lot to give up the flexibility and freedom that remote work affords. Remote work isn’t easy, and you have to take it seriously, but it’s worth it.
  • I still like being around people. Even when you’re fully remote, it’s nice to go into a co-working space every now and then just for a change of scenery.
  • I’ve reached the point in my career where the traditional progression would be to go into engineering management. I don’t currently want to. I am so thankful that more and more companies are providing parallel IC tracks for me to pursue. People are great, but I like to keep my hands dirty.
  • A direction can be wrong for you without being wrong. If I had stayed in my current role, I would be doing more of the sort of work that doesn’t deeply interest me. This is not a comment on the correctness of that technical or business direction, but if you have the freedom to do work you love rather than work you merely like, do it.
  • I enjoy the process of helping people learn. While I’ve been in this job I was a School of Code mentor twice and a First Ruby Friend mentor once. On the job itself, I was senior to some very capable junior/mid-level developers. All of these experiences were valuable to me, and although my next role is going to have me on a team composed entirely of other Senior Engineers, I’ll need to find a way to make sure I carry on learning by teaching.
  • Thursdays are no good. There will be no elaboration.
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