Honest Reflections: One Year Working
I recently “celebrated” my one-year anniversary at work by having a completely normal day at work. I think it’s a little strange that they use the same word in relation to marriage, but perhaps that’s a topic for another post.
One of the most difficult things about my company is how secret everything is. Not everything is secret, per se — it’s just that we’re encouraged to keep most things on the down low, and only describe things in a really vague way. If I were to describe the high and low points at work this year, I might write:
- Failing to support _____ in my first two weeks because I misunderstood the difference between ______ and _____
- Failing to meet requirements on my first program, _____.cpp, because it did _____ instead of _____
- Successfully fixing _____.cpp to do _____ and also _____
- Helping support _____
- Meeting all requirements for _____, at one point using _____ to _____ and, in the most interesting case, using pointers to _____
- Giving a presentation in front of between 50 and 100 customers on _____, in which I briefed the software component _____ and helped obtain a budget of $_.__
Because of the secrecy, I will mostly spend this post talking about some of my personal experiences in life after college that are not about my job, specifically.
Instead of being thrilled about our first few paychecks, like I had expected, people I knew were pretty pessimistic. First there were taxes; arguments on this exposed how politically divided we were and, for the record, more or less continued to this day. Then there were things like rent, retirement savings, utilities, Internet, and sake.
In my experience, people were actually a lot happier when they received their internship paychecks…even though these paychecks were for considerably less money.
Maybe you already know what this is like, but I didn’t. Let me just explain it to my past self.
So, past Evan, here are things you bought because you actually planned to buy them:
- A Yamaha keyboard
- A Yamaha keyboard stand
- A $10 JaidenAnimations mug
- The Psycho-Pass Soundtrack
Here are things you bought but never thought you would buy. In other words, you bought them out of sheer necessity:
- Car stuff
- Dental work
- A trash can with an actual lid
- An air freshener
See how this works? Some of those unexpected expenses were WAY MORE EXPENSIVE than expected. That’s a tongue-twister.
Some General Stuff
I moved into my own apartment. I decided to live in a single that was about 20 minutes away from work, 25 minutes away from my previous place, and two hours away from my hometown. I was pretty excited, to be honest, to pay my own bills, set up my own Internet, and get my own electricity working.
Some of this was anti-climactic. I don’t want to jinx it, but a lot of this was really easy. Why had they never told me it before? Bills have auto-pay features, but if you don’t want to do that it’s still just a few clicks. You get a router on Amazon and then you plug it in. You can do your taxes with automated software. Still, I can understand why some people might be critical when I describe these things as “easy,” especially considering that there’s room for error, and you should understand the process in detail. Alternatively, some people reading this might be critical that I hadn’t learned these things before.
So here’s a humbling experience: The electric stove. Never in my memory had I encountered one of these things. I just assumed it was broken and spent two weeks microwaving eggs.
I’m just going to go ahead and leave this section blank.
I’m going to go ahead and also leave this section blank.
Some General Thoughts on Careers
A lot of people worry about getting fired. It’s totally understandable — I knew a lot of people who worried about being dismissed from college, even those who ended up doing exceptionally well. But it does happen, and it seems much more common for someone to get laid off or fired from a job than it is for someone to be dismissed from a university. Getting laid off is different, but it’s a similar idea.
It’s just one of those things, I guess. It might be good that we, in this society, seem to define a large part of ourselves by what we do for a living. The question is: Who would we be if we were to take that part of ourselves away? If I were fired, would it make me embarrassed to see my friends and explain what had happened? If I were fired, would I feel like my entire experience was a tragedy and I, as a person, was a failure? In many ways, I think these are the same kinds of feelings that people play in themselves through the education system.
I’m not the most secure when it comes to my coding. Well…okay…my code has passed the security test, but I’m not the most secure about it. If you want solid advice from competent software engineers about how to become a more competent software engineer, Medium has tons of those. This is one of the things that first attracted me to this site.
But take it from me: No matter who you are, there are going to be people who are better at their job than you and there are going to be people who are worse (unless you’re Zhanghe, who is better than everyone at everything). But for all we’ve done and all we’ve known, we have only scratched the surface of what we can do.
Imagine it: You’re paid to learn, and you’re paid to grow. It can be frustrating, and there are certain things that are out of your control, and every day you face a very real risk of losing something (whether it’s your job, a benefit, or something more valuable than either), but that’s part of the journey.
So you continue now.
And this is just another chapter.