Today marks one year of me in my first, proper grown-up job - and therefore one year at Audacious and as a fully fledged front-end web developer.
I graduated from Northumbria last July, and fell in to my current role a month later. It’s been all go since then!
Working for a start-up as a first hire has been not only an honour (graduates are sometimes perceived as ‘risky’ after all) but a whirlwind adventure.
I’ve learnt a lot, and can happily say that I’ve improved a lot along the way. That, for me, feels like an arrogant thing to say. But, in a start-up environment, you have to learn and create quickly. I learnt to learn quickly along the way, too, I guess.
One of the hardest things to learn was that failure is inevitable. That failure may be the inability to think of a solution, the fact that a solution isn’t as good as you wanted it to be, the fact that you don’t understand or can’t grasp something, breaking something unintentionally…and I’m sure the list goes on.
At heart I try to be a perfectionist and do things the ‘right’ way - which is of course always up for debate anyway. Sometimes, the right way isn’t apparent the first time. Sometimes a working, but less beautiful, version comes first. I had to learn that you need to just accept that less beautiful version sometimes. You will quickly learn how to make it better - and then you will make it better. Nobody will laugh at you. Everybody has to start somewhere.
You will fail. You will shout. You will cry (maybe). You will swear. But you will also succeed. We sometimes forget to take a step back and appreciate that people are using the things we’re making. Real people. Not all of the feedback will be positive, but for every bit that is you can think “I built that”.
I’ve learnt to be a sponge. I love to soak up the knowledge of those around me - I get to work with some very cool and talented developers. That knowledge may not necessarily be linked to the technologies I work with or things I do, but there’s no bad-learning. If you want to see how something works, look and ask questions. I’m quiet, but I’ve got much better at asking questions, and unless you work with some odd developers, people love to talk about and explain the things they’re passionate about. Someone will always know something you don’t, and you’ll always know something someone else doesn’t. Everyone has different strengths, and when they come together to create something, that’s pretty awesome.
This industry is friendly. It’s crazy, but if you contact a magazine or a book and ask to contribute, they’ll probably let you. If you ask someone on Twitter if they fancy ‘hacking’ something together with you, they’ll probably say yes, or express interest. If you’re stuck, people will happily help you - heck, Stack Overflow et al are dedicated to it.
It’s been a good year. I’ve made 660 Github commits, adding 327,155 lines to the codebase. Some (many) of those lines were shocking and have been re-factored in to something good since. Something I’m happy with. Thankfully that doesn’t last long - if you can look at code a month later, and still think it’s great, some guy somewhere said you weren’t trying hard enough. It’s true, you’ll want to change ALL THE THINGS a few weeks later, you’ll just pick new things up that often, but remember to give yourself a pat on the back at least some of the time ;)