Lesson Learned – The Trap for a New Developer

On learning point of view, this week has been same as many previous weeks: a lot of new information and tasks. I started to work as a full-time web developer five months ago. Those months have been full of highs and lows: one day I feel like a winner and on the second moment I am feeling despair. At the same time I am thinking:

Am I good enough? Can I do this? Am I a good mom, if I am working full-time?

#YesYouAre #YesYouCan

Unfortunately the negative thoughts were the ones, which tried to conquer me. I figured out the reason: I went into the trap I was warned about at the first info meetings when I started to work. Those words are still in my mind: they said that do not use the evenings for the work. It is a common mistake easily made by new developers. And I said: No I don’t, I’m at that age that I know my limits.

Before I even noticed: I had done long hours, worked at evenings and tried to get tasks done at estimated time. At the same time, I tried to absorb the new processes, do the back end with PHP and WordPress functions, code the front end with CSS & SaSS & Dust.js and learn the Docker container system. Bunch of new techniques in a short time. I didn’t rest enough and suddenly I found myself in the situation where I was talking to our HR person, she asked :

“How are you doing?”

I started to cry.

Three months and I exhausted, tired and felt a blue. The first advice was, stop working at evenings and do the normal work hours. The company didn’t require me to work overtime and they wanted me to have own life outside of the office.

The Mistakes I Made

I did all mistakes, what a junior web developer can do:

  • worked long hours
  • tried to learn all at the same time: back end, front end, processes
  • worked at evenings
  • didn’t had nothing own after work
  • stoped exercising
  • thought I had to be a superman to be accepted
  • started doubt my abilities
  • felt guilty about not being home with kids

In addition to having a full-time web developer job, I felt guilty about not being the same work-at-home mom, as I had been. As every mom knows, feeling guilty of almost everything is hard to handle. I was in the situation, where I did all the things, why I left from my previous job and started to work as an entrepreneur. I worked full-time, the office was over one hour away from our home and after work day: I could only lie on the couch instead of being active and playful mom.

One thing I have not mentioned yet, is that my dog passed away on the last day of the year 2019. Whole Christmas holiday I think about what is the right decision for our dog and finally made decision. It was time to let her go. From that day my whole life changed from what it had been for 10 years.

My dog called Pala.

Too much work, lack of exercise, losing loved one, not taking care of myself, the change of life, feeling of guilty mom

The recipe of mentally burnout

The Way Out of Anxiety

I had a long phone call with my friend Louise who started to work as a full-time developer on last autumn. She have had the same kind of experience and talking with her helped me to understand my situation. With help of her, I did a plan for the next week. I started the journey to more sensible and healthy life. The web developer job was and is still my dream job. I just needed to get the enthusiasm back to my life.

  • wake up earlier, make a plan for the day, stick to that plan
  • on Mondays decide which time you will leave at work on each day
  • leave from the work when you have planned!
  • don’t forget to eat well
  • do at least a long walks several times on a week
  • do something nice with kid/kids when you come home

I started to wake up an one hour earlier than before and it helped me to organise my day in advance. The advantage of getting up early affected mentally more than I thought, it also helped me to leave at work in a right time, because I kind of had one extra hour for each day. It has been easy to just got up from the bed, make a coffee and use the coffee drinking time for the solving one coding problem or organising the tasks of the day. After that, I wake the kids up and have a breakfast with them before I get on the train.

Moment

I cannot remind me and you enough: it is so important to stop your day after work hours are done. You cannot finish all your tasks at once! There will be more and more tasks. The feeling of hurry will stay unless you stop it.

As much as you need to limit the work hours, you must also eat well and don’t forget about exercise: a short/long walks are enough if you are the similar as me and don’t like to run or don’t have time for the gym.

The help for the guiltiness of being not much at home is to give some time for the kids when I come home. Also being at home at planned times helps me to feel that I can affect to my life. I try to do some extra things with kids, like go swimming or bowling where kids can feel that I am there for them. If I am at home each evening from the Monday to Friday, I will probably do laundry at the same time as talking with the kids. But when I am in another environment, I can be truly with the kids and listen what they have in their mind.

Practical Advices to Work Environment

The best advice I can give is: be yourself. Be honest and tell to your colleagues, how you are feeling. I have done it and noticed that many people have had same kind of anxious. Talking aloud have affected so that many of my colleagues have talked me straight about their insecurities. I guess it will help in both way.

Marika matkalla töihin - new developer
On my way to work.

Be yourself at work, tell how you are feeling

Colleagues may tell you about how they have felt when they started a new job.

I am not sure when and why it started, the doubt of my own abilities in the job I do. The practical advice is that you can go through the projects you have done at work. I am sure you will be surprised the amount of knowledge you have already learned.

  • Talk to your colleagues how you are feeling
  • Check the projects you have done
  • Remind to yourself: you cannot compare yourself to the colleagues with 10 year experience
  • Make a list of a things you have coded after you started at your position
  • Don’t forget: you have evaluated in the recruitment process, you qualified for the job for which you have selected!

This week I checked one PHP class and thought it was nice and clear code. Then I realised that I had wrote it on last week. At first I didn’t believe it and I kind of got caught that I can code. Isn’t it funny?

Don’t compare yourself to the colleagues, who has been at the same job longer than you, of course more experienced developer is faster than you. The last point I heard at work: I have been evaluated in the recruitment process, which means they know my ability and I passed the technical requirements.

You Are Not Alone!

While I wrote my post I found articles about women in tech and how they are leaving from the technology position.

To be honest again, I understand them now. Being a junior developer isn’t easy or either isn’t changing job position. Also coming back from the parental leave or transferring from work-at-home mom to full-time developer doesn’t make already busy family life less hectic. Chaos is present everyday, forgetting schools’s or daycare’s special days become normal and seeing friends is almost impossible.

New Developer – It’s Time for Evolving

After a huge emotional roller coaster it’s time to open my mind and start to be the passionate problem solver as I had been. Writing this blog post during couple of weeks has helped me to analyse my situation. I hope my thoughts will help other junior developers or a new developers in a new positions to survive from the first months at work.

I want to do it now: leave my fears behind and getting back the enthusiastic, curious lifelong learner.

Let’s do it together!

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back
Love is all you need.

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