I cannot believe that I'm already three years into my software engineering career. The time has flown by faster than I ever would have expected. As I hit this milestone, here are some things that I've learned.
I am currently on my third full-time team. My first team out of school was definitely not the right match or me. While my teammates were kind and helpful, I felt that I did not jive with them as I have with some of the teams I worked on as an intern. My second team was better but still not quite right. I definitely got along with some of my teammates better than I did on my first team and the project I was working on was more intriguing, still not quite the best though. My current team has by far been the best fit for me. I get along with my teammates on a personal level and find the project I'm working on intriguing. I never thought I'd find a team that fits me so perfectly and am very happy with my current position.
This could not have been more true for my experience. My first manager micromanaged quite a bit, dictating that we'd need to put out a notice to the team even if we were taking just a 1 hour off work. She just felt a bit too much at times and I was never at ease. My second manager was the complete opposite. He was very hands off. While some people may have preferred this, I felt like I had not too much direction career-wise. My current manager is amazing as both a manager and an individual. I feel supported not only as an employee but also as a person and individual. We have monthly tag up meetings and in every meeting with my manager, I truly felt heard. I've read through Sarah Drasner's book, Engineering Management for the Rest of Us and my manager does display many of these traits. I definitely feel that I can be on this team for longer than a year.
On my prior two teams, asking questions felt like a huge obstacle. The first team I worked on was short staffed and therefore it was hard for me to get dedicated attention to get up to speed with the project. My second team had some teammates that were great resources and others that explained things in an unclear manner that I had trouble knowing where to begin both in terms of working and for asking followup questions.
My current team on the other hand, asking questions is very much encouraged and I do not feel inadequate for asking questions. I am always met with teammates who are very willing to help me out.
During my internships, I'd worked in person for all of them. However, I'd graduated from school in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviewing and starting a job remotely was a completely new experience. Time and time again, I found that I had a hard time focusing and I did not know why. I tried so hard to eliminate distractions and had no success. Two years into my full-time career, I had mentioned this to my doctor and she suggested that I see a psychaitrist. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with ADHD. My second team had thought that I took too long to complete tasks and I wasn't working to my full potential and now I know why. On my current team, I feel very supported. I mentioned to my manager and my team lead that I have ADHD and they understand me and help me work in a way that's best for me. Reflecting on my life up until this diagnosis, I knew there was something different about me, I just hadn't known since I had my own ways of working around the way I'm wired up until this point. Remote work changed everything.
Throughout school and for the first two years of my career, impostor syndrome took over, eating me from the inside out and making me think I wasn't good enough. I'd compare myself to teammates and especially on the second team, I felt like I was the least knowledgeable on the team. With my current team, I clearly notice that my impostor syndrome is at an all time low. I never thought that I would reach this point. I feel more confident in my abilities than ever before and I feel that I truly add value to my team. Impostor syndrome in my experience is as much external as it is internal. I worked hard to realize that I indeed do have the knowledge but with me not getting unconditional support from the teams that I'd worked with, it was out of control at that point. My current team has made me realize that I am valuable and that I am not an impostor. I truly do know what I know.
Unfortunately most companies are run to benefit people at the top and rely on government for sponsorships. I was gaslit for reporting sexual harassment. I also gave the company 3 years to speak out about hateful homophobic and transphobic comments in the workplace. Unfortunately I did not get a satisfactory response for either issue. In these first few years of my career, I learned the HR exists to protect the company, not employees. My manager has been very supportive when I brought these concerns up. My working team itself is very supportive. It’s a shame the company does not have the employees backs. I’ve been doing unpaid women’s resource group work for the company and I decided I would no longer do that work if the company can’t 100% support me as an individual.
Overall, I've learned a lot in my career so far and am looking forward to gaining more experience and insight as I continue in my journey.