State of a Career

I’m working on year three of a career in software development. Yeah, I use that term. While I’ve always sought opportunities to work on the front end, in every place I’ve landed so far I’ve contributed to the back end of the things I’ve built as well; so I describe what I do as software development. The teams I’ve been on have been small startups working entirely on greenfield projects across three different industries. It’s the type of work and environment I’ve really enjoyed. But it’s also the type of work that’s lead to as many teams as years in this career so far — startups have risks, it’s true. Now I’m at a point where I’m a month away from deploying a React web app to production which I have owned 100% from beginning to end. This project has been the first opportunity I’ve had to choose my own tools for the job for an employer. Seeing the app take shape has been a big confidence boost to me as I’ve come up against the frustration of obstacles but have overcome them all eventually.

I was asked recently to describe a job I’ve had in the past which I did not like. My answer was quick because I knew exactly which one I’d describe. The job I had prior to making a transition to software development was one of those which is pretty typical when you hear people talk about soul-sucking ventures. It was a cubicle farm spread out (but make no mistake, also every inch of floor was used) over 7 floors which did not afford any room for variety nor initiative. I did the same thing day in and day out, month to month. Completely unsatisfying to me.

However, I love what I do now because my experience in development has been diametrically opposed to that previous job. Solutions to problems are almost never a 1:1 ratio, collaboration is embraced, the pursuit of continual learning is highly encouraged, and the communities I’ve been a part of have been thoroughly supportive. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’ve always sought to work on the front end. That has been the side of things which have always excited me more. I think it’s because I like attempting to bring order to that chaos which happens in the browser. Everything which developers have created ever since the first specs in HTML, CSS, and Javascripts have been an attempt to do just that.

I think it’s because I like attempting to bring order to that chaos which happens in the browser.

Not the least, though, is the fact that in such a short time this career has been good to my family. Not merely by own efforts, but by the efforts of many, my family has been able to achieve goals we didn’t think would be possible so soon. This too is a reason I love what I do, and why I am extremely grateful to those which have helped me get to this point so far.

Looking ahead I know I want to focus more acutely on front end tech. I know that is still a very broad statement. But some things, like SVG, in the aforementioned React app, I’m only scratching at for the first time. I know that if I want to continue working on the web I need to get better in such things as responsive development and testing. Then there are areas like accessibility and security which have interested me for a while, but I’ve not delved into deeply yet. And lastly, tools such as SCSS, React, and Webpack I look forward to continue working in while discovering the deeper mysteries within.

In a nutshell, that’s where I am right now. Here’s to 2017.