I recently read a blog post that grouped developers into categories depending on how long they have worked as one. I felt a little proud that I wasn't in the 0-1 year category, but in the 1-2 year one. This made me want to write about other things about my new career that I feel proud of.
How do I feel now that I've been a professional developer for more than a year? I certainly feel I have come a long way and accomplished things I never thought possible - especially when it comes to the current breadth and depth of my skills. A year ago, if you'd asked me whether I'd become so good at looking at a programming problem and confidently considering ways to work around it, become so good at finding answers, or intuitively avoid certain methods, I'd have laughed.
I like how being a developer surprises you. Over the last months, I’ve surprised myself with what I have been able to achieve. Most importantly (and intriguingly) for me, I’ve realised that while I still have a mountain of things to learn, whatever is left will always integrate with and enhance the knowledge I already have. This is intriguing because I didn’t have a strong sense of this at the beginning of my career. The skills and knowledge I have picked up remain with me and give me little “pick-me-ups” when I need them. This was something that was lacking before - when I had less of a strong foundation.
My achievements are definitely the result of stepping outside my comfort zone and feeling uncomfortable with the tasks in front of me. I can certainly say that being challenged hasn’t always been easy. It’s made me feel a lot of low feelings. It’s also given me the wisdom that I’ll certainly experience low moments in the future, but that these will also afford me the opportunity to grow. Knowing this adds to my newly found confidence by helping me envision what to expect in the future.
I recently began working, for the first time, with a developer who is more junior than me. I didn’t know that was going to happen, or even that I was going to work on the project I am on now. But I am really enjoying the experience. I immediately felt quite strongly about helping out and supporting this developer as much as I could. Over the past couple of weeks I think I’ve succeeded in doing that, and I think they feel the same way. I’m really excited about seeing what we will achieve together on the project and how our skills will grow.
I have become more acutely aware of areas I would like to especially grow in. One of these is discussing technical topics with fellow developers. I want to take my opinions and feel smart enough to voice them, and I really want to have discussions with other developers that lead to productive outcomes. This skill is something I've seen improvement in over time, but slower than I'd have liked. Perhaps, as with my other work, I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and speak up more.
In conclusion - sticking with the job even through hard times, especially through hard times, has made me a better developer than I ever expected, has made me more excited to continue and improve than I ever expected, and reminded me of the great Jessica Rose’s sentiment that feeling challenged is essential as it often means you are improving (without even knowing it).