My first year as a developer
One year ago I started my new job as a Backend Python Developer. I have dropped a career, a profession and I almost drop my master degree. When everything happened, I think I didn’t understand the proportions that decision would have in my life. Now, one year later, I want to tell you a little bit about what happened this year.
The first thing I remember (very well) was how I was dislocated in my first day at my new job. I was completed out of my normal environment and there was a rule that “if he has a phone, you should not disturb him”. How can I ask questions without disturbing someone? I remember trying to be useful in any way I could think of, I tried to read code in pull-requests and searching ways to study things.
I remember being frustrated and discouraged. I suggested helping in document the platform we were building (to be helpful in any way) and I spent 3 months basically writing documentation. A little tip to anyone who has someone eager to learn: letting them just writing documentation for 3 months is cruelty. I remember thinking I was a failure and that I should definitely quit.
I didn’t feel good about myself and I didn’t feel useful. I thought about getting my old job back. I thought in all people that would say “I knew you wouldn’t make it”. I thought how my pride would go to trash and the feeling of being a failure made me cry all the time.
Finally, I decided to look for openings. I got so far, that I thought I couldn’t simply quit. If that place was not good, I should definitely try again in a new place. And then comes the awful question: Who the hell would hire me with only few months of expertise?
One thing I remember clearly was that I was very frustrated with the “god-programmer” job openings. The descriptions asked at least 4 or 5 programming languages and knowledge in devops. The 6th and 7th language was a differential. WTF? No way. What I am going to do?
I talked to a lot of people. For those who knew me, I asked for help to find a new place. I really wanted a new job and I had an infinit will to learn. The people that knew me just a little bit could them tell this to people that didn’t know me at all. I used my network in the best way I could. I applied to several spots and had to “sell myself” as good employee.
I always say that there are two ways to sell your work: “oh… I would sit there and mount the computer and fixed the simulator when it crashed…” or you can value yourself and say “I was the technical responsible for the simulator and I had to be sure that it was working at important workshops where several people would rely on its functionality. If I did a good job, I didn’t had much to do on the workshop.” Did I lie in any of those affirmatives? No. Both are equally true. What’s different is the way you tell people what have you done. This changes the way they see you and changes the way you see yourself. So, I gathered all courage and fear had, I started doing interviews and sell my expertise the best way I could think.
The first code test, my code was not fast enough. I spent 3 days trying until I accepted the most deep failure. The second interview was good, but they didn’t have enough money for another person on the team. The third, I wouldn’t have any one more experienced than me… and so it went on and on.
During the Caipyra Conference, Sérgio called me to talk and tell what kind of person they were needing on Crave. It was exactly what I needed in my life. I never thought about move and leave Florianópolis (where I lived). I came to Ribeirão on Friday for a talk I gave on the conference and Sunday evening I got a job offer on my email, 1 hour before my plain hour. I stayed all week after the conference and when I went back to Florianópolis, I already had a new date to start my new job in this new city called Ribeirão Preto.
The decision of moving was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in life. More than the decision of change career. I would have to live my lovely apartment, my friends I gathered in 9 years living in Florianópolis and abandon a city that is considered perfect and where I felt good and happy. I would abandon it all for a dream. A crazy dream that, with 27 years-old, become a programmer. What in earth was I doing? When I took the job, I stayed almost 3 days without eating. When I finally realized what I have done, I almost fainted for being too week. When I got back to Florianópolis, I cried the 3 week it took me to get my things to leave. For certain, it was a decision much MUCH more difficult.
Leaving your comfort zone is a problem. A big one. It is like someone took you away for your mother warm uterus and just gave you a slap and send you to the world. I don’t know how I still have a face after crying fro 3 weeks straight. It is not easy, and it will never be. If it was, everybody would do everything they are afraid of.
I came to a strange city, with almost no friends and a lot of fear. I remember that when I did my first pull-request I said: “Uau! If I do one of this every week I will be happy enough!” and I got a “If you do just one of this per week, you won’t last long”. I was pure fear. Total panic. I clearly couldn’t do it.
I have to confess one thing: I came to Ribeirão knowing that, if everything went wrong, I would go back after a month and everything would be alright. I came thinking that, if it didn’t work, it would be just fine. I kept thinking that until I was sure that nothing was wrong. I came prepared to try again, to understand it didn’t work again. But that’s not what happened.
I walked in a friendly environment for beginners with a lot of nice people. Everyone was good and patient and I got numerous classes to understand what I was doing wrong. Nobody told med “you are too beginner to understand this”. Every time I said that I didn’t understand something, someone gave me a class. Unless it was ridiculous difficult, if I didn’t know how to do something, that was the task they gave me.
The whole team was so certain that I could make it and they were all so patient that it made me grow as a professional and as a person. My code started to become more and more complex and my code review, a little more rigorous. I started to believe that I could call myself a developer.
I you are like me, and don’t think you are a developer, please do the best test possible here.
The amount of things that I have learned with the team of Crave Food Services and the The Python Group of Ribeirão Preto was absurd. My learning curve was exponential and now I am very sure and in peace with my career choice. It is fundamental to have someone that believes in you, it makes all the difference. Nevertheless, is equally important that you trust and believe in yourself. Everything I told here were moments of doubt and weakeness. However, as though as those moment were, I had to believe that I could do it (some times counting with external help). Today I am here, with a year of expertise… and a hope that this new year will bring more learnings (and a little bit of comfort zone ’cause no one is made of iron!)❤ Cheers! Letícia