My first weeks as a Software Engineer

“Engineer”.

That’s got a great ring to it, hasn’t it? What a great word.

It’s a badge that I now wear proudly. Six months ago, after a lot of hard work, planning, soul-searching and ball-finding, I made the toughest decision of my life; end my half-decade strong career in media to focus on my dream of becoming a developer. Until that point, I had been nurturing a passion for writing code in my spare time, building mobile apps as a hobby. I had come to realise that I loved building apps more that I loved my job, and I’ve always believed that enjoying your job is incredibly important. So I took the risk, believing it was worth it, and left my job to focus on building my development portfolio and applying for junior roles.

And boy, did it pay off.

After just 3 months of unemployment, coding hard and learning hard for 8-10 hours every day, I finally convinced a handful of tech companies that I had what it takes to work for them, and I accepted an amazing opportunity at a global, well-established and exciting company based in London, as an Associate Software Engineer.

Now the challenge begins.

 

My First Week

The first thing I did once meeting my new colleagues was set up my new desk. Easy enough; A brand new Macbook Pro with 2 large external monitors, and a bunch of devices I’d be building software for. This is so cool.

A few more introductions later and I find myself pairing with a senior engineer on my team. We’re just 3 minutes into our conversation when I begin to realise: I know nothing.

I’d spent countless hours teaching myself how to write algorithms, how to build UIs, how to build and run code, how to publish my apps through the app stores. I thought I’d at least be able to hit the ground running with those skills under my belt. What I hadn’t realised is that there’s a whole other layer of understanding (and a whole lot of acronyms). Here’s a few things I had little or no knowledge of:

  • CI
  • Deployment pipelines
  • AWS
  • EC2 instances
  • DynamoDB
  • QA environments
  • Kibana
  • Grafana
  • multiple git branches
  • Architecture frameworks
  • APIs
  • Specflow

There’s a tonne more stuff that I had either never heard of or just didn’t spend the time looking into, and a lot of things that I just wouldn’t have been exposed to before.

This was going to be a rough few weeks.

 

My first month

A month in, things are making a little more sense. The most humbling experience has been discovering that there is no shortage of experienced engineers who are eager to spend as much time as it takes to help you out with what you don’t know. Without actively seeking one, I quickly established several mentors, each of whom enthusiastically passing on their knowledge to the newer generation. As one of them often points out, they’ve all been in exactly the same place that I’m currently in, and they know exactly what it’s like to feel as overwhelmed as I do. Perhaps I’ve just found the right company to work for, but I’d wager that this kind of attitude is endemic within this industry, which is an amazing thing.

I’ve already built features, fixed bugs and have seen my code shipped to thousands of users in six countries, which I’m immensely proud of. As every day passes, I’m getting a better of understanding of the company’s tech stack, and have made a point of working on things that challenge my knowledge in order to learn as fast and effectively as possible.

 

From here

I took great encouragement from forums, bloggers and people I met at various tech meetups during this journey, and I still do. Perhaps the thing I love most about this industry is the community; there are thousands of people giving out advice, writing how-to’s, sharing code, sharing stories and giving their time away for free, without wanting anything in return, and I find those people to be an inspiration. So through this new blog of mine, I hope to give something back to the community. I’ll use this as a platform for sharing some of the things I learn, reflecting on life in the tech industry, and to help and support others with similar ambitions as much as I can.

If you have any feedback, questions or just want to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!

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