Hello World : Looking back on 2020

January 3, 2021

Hello!

If you are reading this, welcome! You are probably one of my parents, my partner, or someone procrastinating by reading what will arguably be the worst blog post I write. But that is the point– I want to start blogging about tech and working as a developer to improve my writing.

To ease me into regular writing, and as a way to describe my background a little, here’s a little recap of my achievements in 2020.

1. Finished my software developer apprenticeship

While journeys into tech from non-traditional backgrounds typically involve attending a bootcamp or self-teaching, I made my swap into tech through an 18-month apprenticeship. In this time, I worked in a small company as a developer four days a week and spent my Fridays attending online training and working towards a qualification. Also, I was the company’s first and only apprentice at the time!

Back, at the end of February 2020, I had passed all the exams associated with the qualification. The finish line was in sight. All I needed to do next was finish my portfolio, do a 40-hour solo project, and pass the final interview. Aaaand… then the UK locked down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. What a twist.

Over the following months, my work changed dramatically and, sadly, I had my first experience being in a company that was making staff redundant. Despite this, I managed to wrap up all the remaining work for my apprenticeship while adapting to working remotely. I’m sure someone would be keen to remind me it’s ‘only’ an apprenticeship, but I’m proud of getting my qualification among all the chaos of March, April and May 2020.

2. Levelled-up at work and took on more responsibility

Due to various pandemic and non-pandemic reasons, the team I worked in was stretched pretty thinly during the first UK lockdown period. In response to the increasing workload, I began working on large and more demanding projects. I also needed to start owning all aspects of my work– from managing deployment pipelines to getting elbows deep in various AWS services. Typically these tasks were exclusively done by the two most senior developers on the team, but they had both left the company at the start of the year.

I was in the deep-end! This was ‘senior-level’ stuff I assumed I would never be able to do as a junior. But then I got stuck in and was fine. The experience made me realised that I should have asked questions and pushed for opportunities to learn about these new concepts sooner. Without me realising it I’d been limiting myself due to imposter syndrome and feeling like a burden on more senior developers.

The main project I completed back then was putting the data science team’s first project into production. Through this experience, I learned a ton about AWS, improved my awareness of DevOps tooling and finally knew 100% how our deployment pipeline worked. I even gave a presentation to the tech team about how our deployments worked and produced team documentation. It felt great, and everything could have happened sooner if I hadn’t let imposter syndrome hold me back.

From now on, when I work on something daunting and unfamiliar, I know that it’ll be fine and not knowing something isn’t something to apologise for.

3. Got a great new job

A huge change for me in late 2020 was switching jobs! After I finished my apprenticeship, I started working as a software developer at Sky (the UK broadcasting company). In the few months since joining I’ve learned so many new things: I had my first experience using Java; I used React for the first time in a professional context; I got my first project running using Google Cloud Platform; and I got to experience setting up a new team’s processes from scratch.

There are still the challenges of working 100% remotely due to the pandemic, of course, but it’s been a brilliant end to the shambles that was 2020.