Eight Year Retrospective

My last blog post was almost eight years ago. A lot happened in the few months after I wrote that last post.

I had been learning to code in the evenings and weekends for almost four years, building side projects, teaching in code schools, and doing freelance work. In April of 2016, I received an offer to work full-time as a software developer, and I made the leap. I remember going in to my principal’s office to tell him I would be leaving. I’d spent pretty much my entire life in school, either as a student or as a teacher. I’d told my students I was getting them ready for the “real world,” and now I was going out to experience it for myself.

Eight years later…..it’s been a great adventure. I landed in a wonderful company filled with truly kind people. I’ve learned and built applications and mentored peers in many exciting technologies. I helped start a community of practice for front end developers and organize an annual “BarCamp” style conference for the IS organization as a whole. I worked my way from entry-level developer to senior software engineer, and I’ve made so many great friendships along the way.

Over the last few years, I’ve found myself really struggling with burnout at work. In talking with others, I’ve learned that many of us have experienced this, especially following the pandemic.

One good outcome of fighting burnout is that I’ve gotten a lot better at work-life balance, and I found new hobbies and new friendships outside of work. I took dog agility classes with my Australian Shepherd and volunteered at agility trials. I discovered a women’s archery class through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and participated in the Cornhusker State Games. (“Participated” rather than “competed” - I met my lofty goals of not injuring anyone or completely embarrassing myself!) I learned how to pitch a tent and how to tow a camper and got in as many camping trips as I could with my family and friends this past summer.

And through a book club with a couple of my developer friends - I discovered the programming language Elixir.

The cover of the Dave Thomas book Programming Elixir advertises: “Functional |> Concurrent |> Pragmatic |> Fun”. As I started getting into it, I felt that same sort of energy and excitement that I felt when I was first learning to code. Elixir made programming fun again.

I was able to use Elixir in my day job for a year and deliver one application to production. My teammates learned Elixir along with me and shared my excitement about the possibilities it provided. Unfortunately, my company decided it was too risky to continue using a newer language that wasn’t fully supported by all of our current SDLC tools, and we had to pivot away from it.

I’m still excited about Elixir and want to keep learning and building with it. I’m also curious to do more exploring with native web components and maybe mobile app development. The LiveElement and LiveState projects by Chris Nelson at LaunchScout and the LiveView Native project by Dockyard have definitely helped pique my curiosity in those areas.

If past is prologue, I may jump around quite a bit in trying different things. I’m thankful that no learning is ever wasted, and you never know which side quest will become the gateway to an amazing adventure.

Back to Posts