Learnings from my last jobPicture by Glenn Carstens-Peters
At the start of this year, my life changed completely. At the end of January, I quit my job as a software developer at a wonderful software service company. Starting February the first I became a freelance web developer.
It has been almost half a year now since that big change happened. But this blog post won’t be about my new carrier choice. I’m already planning a separate blog post on my life and learnings as a freelance web developer, so stay tuned!
Table of contents:
- The Beginning: a great team is everything
- The Middle: skyrocketing my developer knowledge
- The End: reasons to leave and lessons learned
- At the horizon
This blog post will be about everything I learned in this last job as a permanently employed software developer. I think it’s a great moment to step back and reflect on the last two years. Think about everything I learned, liked and I miss.
I started working at this company in June 2020 as a front-end developer. I specifically applied for the Frontend Developer React position. I was immediately excited that I could keep my React focus, which I established in my previous jobs.
Fun fact: I wrote a blog post for the sole purpose to get this job. It’s the one about two things I like about react. Someone later told me, that having a blog and writing about React was a great plus when I applied and started at the company.
So keep on blogging people! It can get you jobs, which is pretty cool!
When I started there, I joined a team of 4 other developers. Right from the start we had a great team spirit, working together was a lot of fun and I learned so much. I couldn’t wish for better colleagues.
Together with several UX designers and product owners, we developed a B2B web-based application. I started with smaller front-end tasks, working with React. Pretty soon I also started working with the backend part of our application. This meant working with NodeJS and MongoDB.
My view on software development expanded as I got the possibility to work on all ends of an application for the first time. Again I learned so much and I also think I could expand my skills quickly.
I think I’ve never used
Object.entries so much before as at that
time. Besides developing all these new coding skills, I also learned more about
the SCRUM process.
This applies especially to sprint reviews. I think we nailed them all the time because we put special effort into preparing them. We aimed to show our work to the clients in the best way possible.
After a few months of working in this team on that particular project, a big change presented itself. I got asked to change projects to support a new and small one where I would build the front-end of an MVP.
This was a wonderful opportunity because it meant my work there was valued and they trusted in me and my skills. On the other hand, I got to leave this awesome team and didn’t have the opportunity to work with them that close anymore.
I did some thinking and then agreed to the change. In the beginning, the deal was that I would be working there for a few weeks, at most one or two months on this MVP. Spoiler: I stayed there for more than a year.
After the MVP was done, the project became pretty successful and important. The team grew and I once more got the chance to work as a full-stack developer. This time it meant learning Golang and working with PostgreSQL.
It’s really funny to see how I started working exclusively at the front-end and in the end, I worked on everything. From styling changes with CSS to writing raw SQL database queries. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much.
Once more, besides learning new coding skills, there were a lot of different fields to learn and grow in.
Like learning how to understand clients' and users' needs. And most important: to challenge the wishes of our clients. This is one of the most crucial things I learned there.
After working for more than one and a half years for this company, I developed a desire to work on different kinds of projects. I also wanted to gain more freedom over my time again.
As our project team grew bigger, we had more topics to discuss and of course more meetings. This also meant less time for productive coding and less time to think deeply about problems. I don’t think this is a bad thing, it’s natural if a team grows.
But that’s just not what I wanted anymore, so I decided it was time for a change. A big one in this case for me. I figured that just changing companies wouldn’t do it for me. I wanted to try out something completely different.
Someone who guided me through this phase always told me, if something is off, change it, leave it or accept it. I think that this is such a great and simple advice, something I will never forget and often refer to.
I’ve always thought about freelancing one day. But I figured I needed to gain more experience first. Like working on different projects and learning from different people. But at this point, it felt like I could do it. And so I went for it.
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Almost two years of working as a software developer at this company have taught me a lot. And it was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to work on important projects. I could participate in delivering great solutions to make our clients happy and help them to achieve their goals.
I had the best teammates you can imagine and the culture of teaching and learning was well-established. It was natural to speak up when you didn’t know something.
Compared to my working situation now I sometimes miss working in a team with so talented and smart people.
I also loved to pair-program and develop great solutions to complex problems together. Which does not happen that often anymore when you freelance.
What I don’t miss is the number of meetings or doing stand-ups every morning. One of the best things this change has brought me is that I can plan my day and my week according to what I want to work on.
So after all, my last job as an employed software developer had a lot of ups and also some downs. It was a memorable adventure and I wouldn’t want to miss it.
But in the end, I’m happy with the decision I made. I’m looking forward to everything I’m gonna learn on this new path as a freelance developer!
I wish you a wonderful day! Marco
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