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Ana Maria Suciu
Ana Maria Suciu

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Of babies and code - the juggling journey of a junior dev and first time mom

A bit of context

In January 2017 I decided to do a bootcamp and be a web developer! That came along with moving to Paris to be with my boyfriend. Which soon came along with a pregnancy. So here I was, a pregnant bootcamp trained dev who didn’t speak French, looking for her first dev job in Paris! Fast forward to now - I finally feel like I am not a junior dev anymore! And my son is 1 and it’s all getting better, he’s becoming this awesome little person and I contributed to that! Et on parle francais maintenant (pas tres bien, mais bon...)! And this, all of it, was not easy! It’s still not easy and I don’t see it becoming easy in the near future! Yet, I keep showing up for more.

So, I continue to code in 2019 because…

  • I grew out of my 2017 junior state, finally!
  • and because I am getting good at it!
  • and because I actually enjoy coding!

I deserve credit for…

  • overcoming the impostor syndrome,
  • allowing myself to fail sometimes,
  • being a mother,
  • still going on date nights with my partner(even if not that often),
  • well, all of it!

When you're a mom, there is no extra time to do a tutorial on your own or read documentation at night in bed or engage in fruitful stackoverflow conversations. You'll feel frustrated and down and like an impostor that you are! They were nice enough to hire you while pregnant and here you are, not being able to do anything right! I am not sure how junior devs who don't have a young baby feel, but I surely wasn't feeling good about myself, at least right after my maternity leave. Some therapy sessions later and some 1:1 with the CTO, I knew I had to allow myself to grow in my own rhythm and stop feeling guilty. So I started to actually learn at work. No one ever told me not to so everyday I took a bit of time to read a blog post, a chapter of a book, something. At the same time, I started documenting my learning. At the end of each week, I would write down what I've learned. Soon, things got a little better and I managed to see that I was actually growing, even if not at a pace I wanted. But there was a lot of improvement. Now I am slowly learning Scala and getting my hands dirty with some functional programming, so I am prepared to restart the process, as yet other challenges are coming my way!

I hope to see developer/tech community…

  • growing to accept parenthood as compatible with tech careers (or, in fact, with any careers)
  • acknowledging that everyone has different circumstances and that is good! And we also need to address these circumstances and be flexible!
  • unrelated, but salary transparency, without which we may never break that glass (or whatever it’s made of) ceiling

As (former) junior devs, I am sure we all have good days and bad days. When time is not on your side and, as much as you would want to do extra hours or work a bit from home at night, you’re obliged to maintain that work-life balance, you need to find ways to integrate learning in your work. Maybe you take longer to solve issues, maybe you feel you don’t contribute enough and surely you will be fired soon. At some point, I was thinking I will be fired at least once a week and once a month I would contemplate quitting and never coding again. It is not easy, but I keep on showing up. And sometimes I actually get home so excited that all I can talk about is what I did at work. And every day, it gets a little better, if you only remember to notice how much more you’ve learned since last week.

When I chose to be a developer, I thought the times of teamwork were gone and talking to people is actually rare within this job. And if that’s how you want it, it can be exactly like the stereotypes tell it. But if, like me, you actually need to learn how to become better and you need help and mentors and multiple explanations, then you need to speak up! Cause no one knows what you know, what you doubt or what you need explained, unless you ask for it.

This is the first time I publicly open up (a bit) about how hard it really was and still is, sometimes… It’s not easy to admit failure and it’s even harder to find it in you to go on, especially when you have a small baby, raging hormones and loads of emotions not code-related. Especially when you feel guilty that you leave your son to be basically raised by someone else, so that you can go feel stupid and frustrated and hurt doing a job you don’t feel quite ready for. But if you like it and know you can do it well, don’t put yourself down like that!

It is true that this is not a world made for working mothers. I wanted to write this because you may want children of your own at some point and you need to know that coding is indeed compatible with kids. And if it’s not, it’s up to us to make it compatible and make our voices heard. Cause mothers can code too and we need to include them! Without mothers in tech, #womenintech is an empty hashtag!

Discussion (1)

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CapUNIVProc • Edited on

You have good confidence and motivation, not many mothers can be on such positive wave to do so many things at once. I did not understand about seconds half, but really amazing you got through that experience with a smile on your face. Babies are excellent privilege and gift to have. Working is not a choice these days, you do what they tell you. Is Sometimes good sometimes is not. I remember how my wife wanted to work and was very busy because of her career growth. She had some “problems” so the infant was almost fed all the time with infant milk formula for the first 5~6 months from hipp dutch stage 1 , as only we saw them to be best on for us.