2022 Retrospective

December 21, 2022

As far as years go, 2022 was pretty eventful for me. I wanted to take the time to reflect on everything that has happened, how I've grown as both a professional and a person, and some of the things I'm looking forward to in the new year.

I don't expect this blog will be to everyone's taste - unless you know me personally or are interested in what a year as a sorta-kinda-junior developer looks like, I don't expect this will hold much interest for you. I'm cool with that - this is mostly a reflection for myself, after all, and I'm trying to just kinda...throw my thoughts out there rather than getting stuck in a self-critical spiral and never publishing any of my writing for fear of backlash. That's why I started this blog, after all.


Let's look at some of the most eventful milestones of my year.

Hitting reset

If you know me (or have read some of my other articles), you'll know I graduated from Coder Academy's fullstack web developer bootcamp in August of 2021. I was incredibly fortunate to interview with a company while I was in the final weeks of the course, and after a technical interview and take-home code challenge, I was offered a position. I started the new role a week after graduation, and as a junior, I was stoked - I had landed a new job in the industry I had studied right off the bat, and I was CODING for REAL MONEY!

Unfortunately, the rose tinted glasses fell away after my initial onboarding period, and I was thrust into a chaotic emotional storm of stress, imposter syndrome, and mounting expectations. I'll probably write a separate post on what I think went wrong here, as it warrants a proper reflection on my part. For the context of this post, you just need to know that after discussing my options with HR, I decided I needed to find a new role somewhere else.

Two of my friends who had graduated in the same bootcamp class as me seemed happy in their roles at a different consultancy, and were using Elixir, which, at the time, was a mysterious and tantalising new interest that I latched onto and started learning. One of my friends encouraged me to email through my CV, and eventually, after a pleasant technical interview, I ended up working at Alembic, where I currently remain as a Consultant.

My growth as a developer has accelerated tenfold since I started working here, and I've also been able to embrace countless other opportunities I would not otherwise have been given, which I talk about below.

Conquering imposter syndrome

While I still occasionally get a bout of imposter syndrome (who doesn't?), I've found that embracing opportunities to speak at community events has really helped me combat this.

Alembic runs our local Elixir meetup, Elixir Sydney, once a month, so after onboarding at the start of the year, I decided to do a talk, alongside our intern at the time, about what we'd been up to - namely, building a clone of Wordle in the stack we consult with (Elixir, Phoenix LiveView, and Tailwind CSS). I was nervous, but the community seemed to get a kick out of it, and I've spoken a few more times at the meetups throughout 2022 since.

In fact, the Wordle talk must have been even better than I thought, because a few months later, with encouragement from my boss, I applied to present my talk at ElixirConf in Aurora, Colorado. I wasn't expecting anything to come of it, so you can imagine I practically fell out of my seat when I got an email from Jim Freeze telling me that they'd love to have me as a speaker.

Fast forward through many weeks of freaking out, passport shenanigans, and almost getting stranded in Seattle on my first ever trip overseas, and I landed in Colorado to attend the conference with my boss Josh Price and my friend and colleague Zach Daniel. Despite falling ill, I managed to deliver my talk in front of a bunch of alchemists I really admire, just a few weeks after marking one year of being a professional developer. If you're interested, you can watch a recording of my talk here.

Wearing all of the hats

If you've met me, you'll know I tend to be spinning multiple plates at any given time, in both my professional and personal life. This year was no exception - in addition to writing code full time, I stuck my hand up to help out with marketing at Alembic. I have a background in visual communication, so I offered to help make graphics for our company's social accounts to help promote us, our clients, our meetups, and more. If you've visited our LinkedIn or Twitter in the last few months and come across any graphics we've posted, there's a 99% chance they were made by me! I'm by no means an expert, but it's something I really enjoy doing, and I can see my skills getting better and better with each design I make.

In addition to graphics for socials, I was also asked to design a hoodie to be given to each of our staff when we all got together earlier this year. It was bizarre seeing all of my colleagues wearing something I had designed, but everyone seemed to love them!

I've also noodled around with designing various bits of collateral for the Ash Framework, including the mascot for the Spark library, dubbed "Ashley". Ashley will forever have a special place in my heart as the weird little drawing that sowed absolute chaos in the Ash server for a solid few days while people argued over a name. Truly a legacy to go down with other great names in history.

So what does the future hold?

Despite all of the fun I've had this year, I've done a lot of serious reflection about myself, my career goals, and what truly makes me happy. I've realised that, despite enjoying the process of writing code on its own, I want to be solving problems at a higher level, and utilising more of my visual communication skills alongside my more technical skillset. With that in mind, in March I'll be taking Dribbble's Certified Product Design course, a 16 week course that will (hopefully) see me come out the other side as a certified product designer.

Not only will this allow me to better utilise the skills I already have in visual communication, but it will give me the business context to be apply to pitch these skills as part of a sellable process for clients. This, in addition to already understanding how software development fundamentally happens from the perspective of the engineers, will give me a well-rounded view of everything needed to bring together all of the elements of a successful product.

I have some other professional goals for the new year as well - namely, I'd like to present at at least one major conference before the end of 2023 to continue honing my speaking skills. I'd also like to try writing more, while stressing less about what people might think about what I'm saying. I like to think I'm a pretty chill person, and usually, people will mostly take issue with my technical writing more than my opinions on anything else. That's something I'm aware of, and something I need to learn to be okay with.

Ultimately, I am happy with the progress I have made this year in all areas of my life - but I'm hungry for more and excited for the opportunities that 2023 will bring.