Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.
Four and a half years have passed since my first contact with the professional world as a software engineer.
Through that time, I was fortunate to meet extraordinary and skilled people. Who taught me how to create my own path, trust in others, and most importantly, not be afraid of facing my fears.
I will give you some of the most insightful learnings I had the opportunity to experience in the past four and a half years.
So you can get the most of this article, I have been careful to select insights that won’t require you to have such an engineering background to apply them.
# It is okay to not know
When I first started my first role as a software engineer, I already had some knowledge from my high school, but nothing compared to the usual work you face in the professional world.
It was a scary and exciting moment in my life.
When I first started to develop my first functionalities, I had a lot of questions, a lot of doubts.
Asking was an option to avoid. In my mind, at the time, asking would give the wrong idea about my skills to all those skilled engineers with more than 15 years of experience.
As you may predict, I took way more time than I needed to finish tasks, and sometimes in the wrong way.
A few weeks later, a business analyst from my project asked if I had a minute for a small chat. We had a deep conversation, almost like a father to a child conversation.
He noticed I was afraid of asking, showing I didn’t know. He knew I had potential, but I was holding it.
We made a deal. I would avoid it as much as possible that fear, and then, he would help me approaching those engineers “without availability”.
Since then, I lost all my fear of asking, all the fear of showing I didn’t know. In just a matter of weeks, the results were astonishing. I was learning so much, meeting new people. I started to be able to finish every functionality or product I was assigned, in time.
After four and half years, I bet my life would be completely different if I didn't have that conversation. Probably I wouldn't be in my current company working with my awesome coworkers.
Lesson: Asking is not showing weakness, is showing strength.
# You always have time
How many times have you heard someone complaining they can’t do something due to missing time?
When I first started to work, I was one of them. How could I work as a software engineer while doing a computer science bachelor? And also have time to learn new work-related topics, and hang out with friends?
I had no answer back then if it was going to work out. I just knew university was a priority.
So I decided to take the risk. I accepted the job offer and got accepted into the university too.
I will be honest with you. I had to change, to become something else. I had to define priorities, manage time, organize and define the near future. I won’t lie. The firsts weeks were not easy, but then I started feeling the change.
It was starting to feel natural being able to find out time to do a new thing.
Disclaimer: A big thanks to James Clear and his work. It helped a lot.
Amid my bachelor’s, I was working out, hanging out with friends, travel, finish all my work duties in time and well, being part of tech events, reading, learning, playing guitar, and so many other things.
Never feel there’s no time after work to do new things like learning new skills, new languages, team building events, reading. Check again, because it’s hidden.
Did you know on average, people spend between 2 to 5 hours a day on their phones?
Can you imagine if you used all the time to learn a new professional skill? In six months the results would be astonishing.
Lesson: After you manage your time, your life will get easier.
# Behind a person, you will always find a story
A few months later, losing my fear of talking openly to people opened other doors. I started some great friendships with just a simple “Hey, glad to meet you! 😁”.
A friend once told me she got a reply from a coworker saying, don’t mix friendship with coworking. She should expect nothing more from that place. What a horrible thing to say. Mainly to someone that has just started working.
I noticed that your world usually gets way more enjoyable, fulfilling, and interesting if you fill it as a group and not as a lone wolf.
Never be afraid of reaching out to people, even if you must be the first person to reach them.
Not everyone will like you, and it's completely fine, you won’t like everyone either. Avoid using such as an excuse to reach them, to learn their history, teach, learn, and who knows, you may start enjoying them! That happened a few times with me.
You need to give more meaning to work than just code, QA, documentation. Behind every task, you will always find a person.
Always seek to have time to speak to people. You may not have an hour sometimes, but at least try to have 10 minutes to check them, to learn from them, to know them. Some of my best friends started with a 5-minute chat.
Lesson: Work is more than tasks and time frames. Behind every task, there’s always someone with a story.
# Never stop being curious
As a software engineer, following the technology evolution speed is a must, we must evolve at the same pace, or we can easily lose the train.
Being a software engineer is not just about coding and understanding the business flow.
I learned that learning more is being more, even if you get topics outside your professional scope.
When I first started learning outside of my mandatory needs, for instance, financial market, psychology, technologies, science, and others, I was able to see more than what was just in front of me. I was giving a different meaning to actions, small reactions, conversations, and emotions.
Never think that just by being a software engineer, you should only pay attention to related topics.
I’m sure you will find a world of information outside of its scope that indirectly has an enormous impact. Such as communication between teammates, interactions with someone not feeling well, etc.
Lesson: The capacity to learn is a gift. The ability to learn is a skill.
These are some of my learnings through my past experiences in the professional world. Each one had its impact on me.
I hope that at least one of them made you think about your current life.
See you in the next article!
How I manage to boost my productivity by 400% in pandemic times
Successful people are simply those with successful habits — Brian Trancy