9 things I learned so far as a 24 year old software engineer
You’ll find so many similarly titled articles over the internet. Why should you read mine? I don’t know. Just like I don’t know what I will learn in the next 2 years. But I can share what I do know at the moment. Here are the carefully curated list of things I wanna share…
1. There is no substitute for actual professional experience.
I have seen a lot of memes suggesting how some job-descriptions have bonkers expectations for job listings. But working professionally made me realise how big is the wisdom gap between me and a senior engineer, about a year ago. Unlike a lot of people’s belief, tech is not just about your skillset. I was told this by my ex employer. Experience matters at the end of the day. You get better with estimations, budgets, resources, etc as you gain experience and there is no substitute for it.
2. Company culture matters a lot
When you fit in a company culture and your team mates are hired based on that as well, then you work as a well functioning cog in the system because even though there are conflicts you know that at the end of the day both you and your team mate want the same thing from each other, that culture.
3. Pick your battles.. You’re not gonna win everything
If you try to influence everything and try to control every possible outcome, you will neither enjoy your life, nor will anyone want to be a part of it. Hence you have to let go of some battles, sure the API methods can be named in a certain way, sure some company decision are not according to your liking, sure your PRs are not getting reviewed. Of all of these, I suppose the PR problem is the only one that is under your area of influence and is directly related to your deliverables. So probably, better to not waste energy on other things.
4. You feel you can do more, but can’t.
We are often really unfair to ourselves and hold high ambitions, which are insanely high. Which is not a bad thing(I hope not, cz I am the same way). But it also takes an enormous amount of energy to keep the flame burning. We get consumed by this flame which leads to a proper burn out every now and then. We just have to realise… Sometimes good enough is good enough. At least for a while 😅.
5. Mental health is important, so you need to take better care of your head.
As someone who has been diagnosed with depression and insomnia, some days are just freakishly heavy and difficult. What matters is how we navigate through it cz there is no way of going around it. Journaling helps, knowing more about the subject helps. You might wanna choose to reach out to someone who can provide you a better perspective about yourself. It helped me get through my self critical/harmful thoughts. You need a GPS to navigate through things. Same principle applies here. For the insomnia, I just go to the gym 💪 as often as possible. Not something I have figured out so far… apologies, can’t be of much help there.
6. Discomfort is a friend
Whenever you try to learn something, you will often feel like you wanna throw up from the frustration(maybe that’s just me). I also seem to develop a case of tourettes every time I encounter a bug, and it proves difficult to solve. But once you get it to work, you will never face that same bug again in your life with that much difficulty. Even if it comes the next time, you will squash it and prove your awesomeness.
“That uncomfortable feeling is your friend, it shows that you are growing.” — Mattias Petter Johansson← Do follow him, he has many a times been my only source of sanity/inspiration. Funny how you owe some people so much without them knowing about it 😛.
7. The people you shadow will shape your career.
It is very essential to have a good leader to shadow, from whom you can learn how to deal with the usual day to day tasks. Unless you are born with all the best qualities in the world, this is one of the best ways to learn. Having a mature leader helps you in your career not just on skillset level. But also for you learn to have a long sustainable career with less burnouts, less silly arguments and better perspective on issues. It is nicer to shadow someone and learn than go through a bunch of trials and errors IMHO.
8. Everything is a constant trade-off at work.
From the amount of work that you are putting it to which tickets to finish off in a sprint. Every decision has it’s own trade-offs and one should always be mindful of it. Even if we don’t know it at the point, we can always look back in our performance after every sprint and try to not repeat our mistakes. I try to put in 30 mins of focused time before every sprint planning to see what I could have done better. The reason being, sprint planning is a good trigger and a start to not make those mistakes again.
9. You are responsible for your growth.
Something that my lead taught me. People are there to support your drive but it must come from you as you are the one who has to go through all the pain and struggle. Your manager/lead knows what it feels like cz they have been through it too. Best is to follow the right people(social and personal life), so that you can narrow down what you want. Then breaking it down into smaller goals. And an accountability buddy(this is a luxury), quick shout out to Laurin Lukas Stahl.
These are just some of my opinions and learnings that I have gathered so far, if you feel like we can have a decent conversation or you disagree with me and want to discuss about something I wrote. Hit me up on twitter and we can chat there.
Until next time, stay safe and peace…