I've been actively reading Dev.To, both on Twitter and on the site, for some time now, but this will be my first post. So with that in mind, please be gentle!
I thought it would be interesting to share my story, as I've seen others do, with a reflection on my first year (or actually, first 13 months) in the computing industry. Hopefully for those getting started in our wonderful field, this can be - at the very least - an interesting read.
For some background on me, I studied an undergraduate Bachelors Honours Degree in Computing Science, and then a postgraduate Masters in Computing for Business. During my undergraduate, I completed a ten week internship at mid-sized IT firm, where I did some software development. I'm not discussing any of this here, but rather just focusing on my first full year in full-time employment.
In January of 2018, I was a fresh-faced graduate in a smart technologies division within an Engineering firm. Originally I was taken on as an Azure BI Developer, but as the first months passed, the BI part was dropped, and I just started developing software within the Azure Cloud. This is when I started to realise that Cloud Computing, particularly the Microsoft Azure Platform, really interested me.
As my interest in Cloud Computing grew, so did the company's need to start transitioning to Azure. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement; the company needed to migrate to Azure, and I wanted to learn how to get stuck in with Azure. I got to be very involved with, and exposed to, a lot of new Azure technologies and ways of working; particularly surrounding the MicroServices approach, container orchestration, and CI/CD (using Azure DevOps/VSTS). As my knowledge in this field grew, so did my confidence. In December last year, a new team within our division was created, aimed primarily at Azure Development. They asked me to make the horizontal move to join them, which I gladly agreed to.
Since joining this team, my responsibilities have grown day-on-day, and I've been heavily involved in a lot of R&D, innovation and trying to implement Azure efficiently. That is the position that I was in until Monday this week...
A few weeks ago, I was approached by a recruiter for a company, who are pretty well known in the field, asking if I was interested in a quick chat explaining an available role to see if it would be a fit for myself. I explained that I was happy in my current position and that gaining experience was important to me, so there would have to be a compelling reason to move. However, a quick phone-call with the recruiter illustrated to me that there was, indeed, a number of compelling reasons to move.
The role being offered was a DevOps Engineer role, which would start focused on Azure, but slowly incorporate GCP and AWS (as they are partnered with the big three). I had a total of 5 interviews over 3 days:
- An initial phone-call experience interview
- An hour long video call, exploring some technical examples and discussing background more in depth
- A half day, over around 3 or so hours, with a technical whiteboarding interview, a background and experience interview, and a cultural fit interview.
The interview process was good fun, and to my astonishment, I felt that I had nailed the technical assessment. I received a job offer this week, to start my new role as a DevOps Engineer mid-March. I could not be any happier. It's an exciting new opportunity for me to progress my career in an environment surrounded by experts in the cloud. Learning opportunities are going to be in abundance. I can't wait to get started.
I suffer from something I like to call 'Junior-itis', by which I mean that I often have little confidence in my own abilities, usually as I feel that I am inexperienced. It took until I received my feedback for the DevOps Engineer technical interview for me to actually realise that I seem to, unfathomably, actually have some idea what I'm doing. It's incredible that one year has flown by, and I've gone from being a complete rookie to having, at least, the knowledge to hold my own in a technical interview in a very specific field.
I say this because, as someone who has read these sorts of blogs on here for some time now, this sort of post is the kind of reassurance that I would have liked starting out my tech career. I still feel very 'junior' (and, of course, I am) - but knowledge comes from experience and application, and one year teaches you a lot of things. I'm excited to keep learning and growing, but I'm really starting to reflect on just how much I've grown in the last year.
On top of my work experience, I also have had half a year of volunteer experience as part of the Founders4Schools initiative, where I am able to go into schools and run workshops to inspire the next generation of minds to get involved with STEM subjects. This has not only been rewarding, but it's been beneficial - my communication and confidence with people has grown greatly as a direct result of such presentations.
One of the best things I've done is create a Slack page for my friends that I graduated University with. When we have coding issues, or general questions about something, we tag each other in and open discussions. It's been great learning from people outwith the bubble of my own organisation, and pulling from resources across the country has really helped me remain open minded about solutions.
These are anecdotal, so don't take them as the gospel, but this is what I would say:
- If you're just starting out, the biggest thing I can suggest is to really apply yourself to the role, and try to learn as much as you can as you go along. There's no way to know everything. If you have a supportive team, you'll grow so much in your first year.
- Find a way to get involved with presenting ideas. This was such a good way for me to grow my confidence when dealing with people in a business context.
- You may find, early on, that your initial fields of interest change. This is OK.
- One day you'll wake up and realise have a moment where you go 'oh my god, I seem to actually have a clue about this field. How did this happen?'. Enjoy that moment.
- Make the most of learning and being involved with R&D where you can. If you don't have the opportunities at work, try to dedicate at least a couple of hours per week of playing around with the tech that interests you on an evening/weekend.
My first year in tech has seen me fall in love with software development in a way I never have before, discover and fall in love with cloud computing and DevOps methodologies, and gain valuable experience that has helped my technical abilities and helped me grow as a character too.
I'm so incredibly happy to be a part of this industry, and now - officially - an active member of the Dev.To community.
Thanks for taking the time to read my first ever blog-post. Take it easy.