About half a year ago I wrote an article about what it was like coming back to the tech industry after two decades as a 'middle-aged junior'. I wrote the article simply to share my mixed feelings of frustration and hope and was not ready for the reaction I got. The article exploded (well, as far as personal posts from an unknown writer goes anyway) and got thousands of views the first couple of days. To date it has gotten 9.4k views on Medium and 6.8k on Dev.to.
While it's nice when something you create attracts attention, what really took me aback was the kind of reaction I got. After over a year of trying to get my foot in the door anywhere companies were suddenly contacting me. Over the next couple of weeks I was contacted by over a dozen companies that were interested in hiring me. Without asking for a CV or code sample I got offers from both large organisations like Egmont Publishing and smaller companies like Accodeing To You. I was contacted by CEOs, CTOs and developers, but nobody from HR and not a single recruiter. I ended up working for Accodeing To You, a small Swedish development and hosting firm where everybody works remotely.
The reason I went with Accodeing was a simple one: values. While all companies that contacted me seemed to have great values, Accodeing stood out as a company where the founders were driven by theirs and had built their company strongly based in those values. Now, after five months, my time with them is coming to an end and I find myself doing a retrospective of my time with them and what I've learned.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I'm in a lot better situation now than I was at the beginning of the year. One of the things that worried me a lot when I was looking for a job was my lack of experience working together with others. Now I've worked with a team that has a really high code standard and that has code reviews on all code that are pushed to the git-repos. I have certainly not always produced the best pull requests but comparing what I push now compared to when I started shows that I've come a long way. When I code I tend to focus on solving problems and clean code and clean commits have always come second, if at all. While I still tend to focus more on solving problems and creating the product, the tasks involved in producing clean and readable code does not take as much energy as it used to do. So, while the focus on details is still something that slows me down I've come to appreciate the need for it and while I don't think I'll be produce code up to the standards of Accodeing I'm a better programmer due to being pushed in that direction.
On-boarding is another thing that comes to mind. Being a small and young company the on-boarding process was not the smoothest when I started. I believe this is where they learned a lot from hiring me. I came in at a time where there were a lot to do and while they had a good document in place I wasn't ready to jump straight in and work solo like I did. I should have said as much but my lack of experience in working with others meant I didn't really know what I should expect in that situation. For me it's not all bad though, I learned a great deal the first month, but I think that I could have done more for them with a smoother on-boarding. While the process could have been smoother I felt welcome and felt that I was getting a place in the company.
Meetings has made my time both great and less valuable than it could be. Each day starts with a morning meeting. Monday meetings is a bit longer since it also contains a weekly code challenge and at the end of the week we have a weekly meeting where we do a retrospective of the week that has passed and look ahead to the next week. These meetings have been important to make me feel like part of a company when everybody is working from home, but since I've only been working part time they have also taken up a big chunk of my time. Days when you work 4 hours, a 1 hour meeting is 25% of your time. That's a lot more than the 12% of a normal workday. I'm not sure how I would go about this differently though.
I suck at administrative tasks. The amount of energy it takes for me to keep track of when I work on what is extremely disproportionate to the actually time it takes to do it. This is one of the issues with having ADHD and working from home. It's not unreasonable to expect someone to keep track of time but the anxiety this simple task causes me means the cost might be higher than what is feasible. I have been told not to bring up my ADHD when I talk to companies, but this is one of the reasons why I do. If I don't mention my issues with repetitive administrative tasks I'll end up feeling like I've cheated myself into a job. Now, even though it still is a cause of anxiety, at least I've been up front about what I'm not great at from the get go.
All in all I'm extremely grateful for these 5 months since it means I'm in a much better position going forward in my career. I'm not worried about having to give up on this path like I was 6 months ago. The reason I have to move on and look for another position is a lack of work and I know that I didn't have time to start giving back more value to them than I've cost. I hope that I will be in a position in the future where I can give back to these great people who gave a middle aged junior a shot. I don't feel like a junior anymore.