A Career Retrospective

Thu Jan 31 2019

During my first annual review at work, I was promoted from a junior/entry-level to a mid-level engineer. It was a bit surreal for me to hear all of this.

I’ve been in web development for about 2.5 years total now, 3 years if you want to include the 6 months where I dabbled with freecodecamp. My college computer science classes placed a lot of emphasis on writing “enterprise” languages. So languages like C, C++, Java, and Python. I would have never imagined following the webdev career track back then.

When I applied for my first job out of college, it was at a small eCommerce shop in the area, but I was fully anticipating that the job was just to pay the bills while I found something “enterprise-y” in the meantime. I was always under the notion that webdev was “too easy,” when compared to something like C++ or Java. But as it turned out, I happened to become pretty good at using the web to solve business problems.

This internal disconnect I held between the “enterprise” track and the webdev track caused me to suffer from impostor syndrome. Since I was pretty good at webdev, does that mean I wouldn’t be good at enterprise software development? Had I missed out on some sort arcane software knowledge that prevented me from getting a job in enterprise? How long will it be until people finally realize that I’m only in my current position due to a lucky streak?

I’m coming up on 3.5 total years playing with the web, and I’m starting to feel that I’m just now shaking off my impostor syndrome, bit by bit - though there are days where I still feel like I’ll be outed as a fraud.

But there is a silver lining though! I’m playing with some exciting technologies, like Docker and React nowadays, and it’s extremely satisfying to accomplish something with these tools. These small achievements stave off those feelings of impostor syndrome, at least for the time being.

Preparing for this annual review gave me some time to really reflect on how much my skills have evolved over time. If I had the opportunity to talk to myself back then, I feel like I would have liked to focus on these things more:

I’d say that these things alone helped advance my career and skills substantially, and I’d wish that I could have been exposed to these topics in school as part of some sort of personal software development class. If I’m to mentor some junior colleagues in the future, I’m hoping to pass on these skills to them, so they won’t have to struggle nearly as much as I did.

It’s still early on in my career - I’m only in my mid-twenties, after all - but I’m looking forward to what’s next.