HEY SAM, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
When I started this blog in December 2016 (almost a year ago), I pledged to write a post weekly. Some followers on Twitter told me that this was bold and that it was hard to be consistent. They were right. I kept my weekly pledge for 6 months, and then baby #3 was born. Life has been a storm since. 6 months later, baby boy’s still not sleeping through the night. And since my wife has finished her maternity leave and has resumed her medical residency, I’m the sole night watch. Do you imagine blogging while not having a single straight night for 6 months?
But I’m not seeking any excuses. Blogging is hard because it never seems a priority when life gets in the way. At the end of the day, regardless of how little I slept or how little margin I had left in my days, I could have found 1h per week had I really tried. So here it is: since my pledge was public, I publicly acknowledge my failure. And I won’t renew it. But I’ll still try to dust off my blog a little and bring it back to life a bit.
The first step will be to bring you up to speed to where I’m at in my software journey. A crazy lot has happened the last few months.
SO SAM, WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST FEW MONTHS?
Here is a quick timeline of my coding journey:
- Sep 2008 – Jun 2014: MS in Computer Science, but with no actual interest in coding as a craft. Did the bare minimum to pass, and strived to join a “high-level” consulting firm like Accenture or Capgemini that don’t test coding skills but only care about your degree’s reputation and your charisma. I wrote about it here.
- Jan 2016 – Dec 2016: Scrum Master for Tech Support teams, a role with a lot of management responsibilities. As a young graduate, this is what I was aspiring to (I saw being a consultant as a means to that end). But quickly, I realized that I had more fun when coding than when “managing” (i.e. being involved in running meetings, solving conflicts, recruiting, firing, reporting to top management, crafting KPIs, etc.).
- Jun 2016: Decided to strive to become a professionnal developer and dedicate 10h/week to learn web development (HTML/CSS/JS) on the side with Free Code Camp. I wrote about this decision here.
- Aug 2016: Some tech leads in my company saw my passion for code and offered me to join a development team upon the condition that I pass their technical interviews in C#. So for the next 2 months, I gave up Free Code Camp and focused on learning C# with the excellent Mosh Hamedani on Udemy (basics, intermediate, advanced). I then practiced coding puzzles in C# like crazy on HackerRank.
- Nov 2016: Passed the various coding tests in my company, doing better than many developers who’ve been working with C# for years. And this is in part due the many hours I spent wrestling with JS coding challenges with Free Code Camp (I wrote about it here).
- Jan 2017 – Sep 2017: Developer in a product team working with the whole stack, but focusing mainly on Vanilla JS server & client sides, and on the mobile app developed with Ionic and AngularJS. Apart from internships, this was my first experience as a professional developer since the day I actually started to care about code as a craft. I was in full “learner-mode” and tried to touch as many parts of the stacks as possible as well as spend time with the best developers in the company.
- Oct 2017 – Now: My wife was meant to take a parental leave, but for some administrative reasons, we realized it was not possible. So she was to go back to her medical residency with crazy hours and night shifts while we now had 3 kids. Clearly, I could not continue to be a full-time on-site 9AM to 6PM developer… So I decided to quit the company I love to take a chance as a freelance & remote developer, only 9 months after having gotten back to professional development.
WHY GOING FREELANCE & REMOTE?
My goal is to be able to work from home and with flexible hours. That way, I can prepare the 3 kids in the morning, bring them to school and daycare, bring home my eldest daughter for lunch who’s now at school but doesn’t have a canteen, retrieve my kids in the evening, and have everything ready for my wife as she gets back home :). Moreover, I can handle all the administrative tasks of running a family of 5 without having to worry too much about days off (things like taking the car to the garage, welcoming the insurance agents after a water damage in the home, and so on).
My previous employer has offered me a job as a freelance contractor, where I’ll be able to work for them remotely for 10 to 15 days per month. This is amazing since there’s already a shared trust and I already know the technologies used (mostly Vanilla JS in this case, but an interesting and complex business domain). I’m starting on Monday Nov the 20th, and am quite excited about it. It’s the first time this company uses a freelance & remote consultant, so this is a guinea pig experiment that I hope goes well.
Meanwhile, I’ve applied via Stack Overflow for a remote position for a family-friendly remote-first startup based in London & Göteborg. After applying, I was told that I needed to wait since they had to process more than 2100 applications… I thought to myself that I stood no chance. But out of these 2100 applicants, I was one of 400 selected to pass a remote test. Since I got pretty good at solving coding puzzles, I was one of 50 selected to interview with the CEO. And since my Tech Support & Scrum Master roles taught me a lot of soft skills, I was one of 20 selected for a live coding exercise with the CTO, where I could again showcase my puzzles solving skills. I was then selected as one of 2 for a 20h mini-project, using tools I’ve always wanted to learn but never found the time for: React & Redux. I learnt the tools from scratch (with the excellent teacher Wes Bos) and gave it everything I had. But the other applicant was better and got hired. However, the CEO & CTO still want to work with me and want to make me their next hire, as soon as they’ll have the cashflow for it.
So here’s the plan: I’m intending to happily contract for my previous employer until the new company can hire me in the forthcoming months.
We’ll see how this goes. Thanks for having read this far.
PS. Kudos to Xavi Guasch, a kind subscriber to this blog, who sent me an email this morning to encourage me to blog from time to time. Without his prodding, I would not have done it!