One Year Anniversary

A year ago today (I started writing this on Tuesday…), I walked into my new web development job, as Junior Front End Software Engineer at Lovespace.

I had been unemployed for 4 months following my first fairly short-lived dev job which had ended in failure.

This time I had to succeed. I am quite used to not being successful the first time around – I do tend to do things the hard way.

I arrived late on my first day – the wonders of the Metropolitan line that consistently haunt me. It was a little daunting at first too, I was tasked with documenting the 10,000 line JavaScript file – some of it I really didn’t understand. The outsourced senior developer was helping me to an extent, but I was left relatively on my own to document it.

And it was boring. I ploughed through.

It wasn’t long before I started to be given some of the tickets – simple things at first, and guided by the outsourced senior developer at first – especially through the version control system, Github, who’s potential for messing things up scared me at first! The styling I could do without too much difficulty but changes in the JavaScript file was another matter.

It wasn’t much longer before I had some tricky things to fix and was really struggling to debug. I had minimal experience of how to debug code – I was originally going to write a blog about error debugging being by major weakness but I never found time. It isn’t something you get taught in books or courses – it isn’t something especially easy to teach. I groped my way towards a strategy for debugging that works – I didn’t have a clue what section of the code did what, and I realised overnight that I could just put console logs in every section, with a different number, and see what was triggered – and more importantly what wasn’t triggered, and therefore where the error was. Genius…well, I thought I was anyway.

Looking back now, it is amazing just how much I have progressed. My knowledge of applying code and styling has improved significantly, but I’ve made even larger strides in necessary competencies such as using APIs, error debugging, etc. Things that are not taught so well outside of working environments. I barely had any experience of using an API, let alone having to manage and debug one, prior to joining Lovespace.

I still have huge amounts to learn. This will always be the case, and that is part of what appeals so much – there will always be the next level to aim for. In particular I must learn at least one framework – I don’t think I can be counted as anything other than a junior developer until I do. We use AngularJS on our apps – and my manager has just about finished re-coding our ordering system on the website in AngularJS which I assume I will be taking over soon. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end.

Career-wise it would make more sense to learn React or Vue, but maybe I’ll eventually get time to do so in my own time. Yeah…my own time…

Will I still be at Lovespace in another year?

I’d like to think so. My frustrations are growing in number and significance; be it the long hours, low pay, limited holidays, minimum pension, extra demands on my time doing things like customer service (tonight again, sigh), the idea that I need sales training yet get no formal tech training (though that has gone quiet), lack of daylight…hmmm more frustrations than I realised.

Yet the company has charm and I do want to stick around and wait for it to become the success it should become. My jobs prior to working at Lovespace have all been for faceless corporates – I actually quite like Lovespace as a company. They have a good ethos, and there are some very nice people working here – though I have found that in almost all jobs I have done, so that isn’t anything unique. A decent social scene and the co-working office we work in is top-notch.

Most importantly the role is at the perfect level – I had straight-forward tasks at the beginning, now I have much more complex and involved tasks, and this complexity should increase further, with new technology to learn too.

I add value to the business and feel appreciated as an employee. I even got the initial lead for what I think is our largest business customer.

Though at the same time I am aware of other opportunities out there and I don’t want to limit my ambition. Currently my ambitions can easily be met at Lovespace, hopefully some of my frustrations can be reduced and not added to. Notably positive that my frustrations are all outside of the actual work and team/management, etc – I really enjoy what I do.

Longer-term, I am keen to work on a larger variety of websites and can envisage having my own design agency. Maybe that is the direction that I am heading in. But if I’m going that route, then I don’t just want to be any other agency producing decent websites – I want something that will be talked about, an agency that would produce “wow” websites (or experiences in marketing terms, bluergh). I’m a long way from knowing what my vision is, let alone being able to do it. I’d possibly need to find someone to share and develop my vision with – a designer?

Maybe I’ll just have an ordinary design agency first.

This weekend also marks my first full-on private client project going live. Still one or two little bits to finish off, and that’ll be a blog post for another time.

Back to living the dream. Washing up, roast dinner and customer service. Rock and roll.