It was hard but worth it.
My first developer position was the challenging to find. After having done freelance work for a handful of years and another two teaching myself modern development frameworks, it took roughly 100+ applications to land my first role.
The position was a sole developer role for a budding Amazon agency. I spent my time developing an internal platform for account managers, displaying key metrics and identifying promising/troubled skus.
I loved the people there and the work I was doing, but the condition of being weren’t very ideal. Moreover, the commute of nearly two hours had a significant impact. The leadership was often accommodating, but I felt burned out. When a company at close to home extended an offer, I gladly accepted.
I had learned a lot during my time at my first company. Some peers call the process being blessed by fire. And though it got tough at times, it was an entry point into the career. For that, and for the company of the people who worked there, I am grateful.
The Transition Process
I thought that with some experience under my belt it would be easier to land a more professional roll. That was both true and false. In the end it took around 30 applications before an offer was extended. But the process took six months and more than a dozen interviews. Each time I thought that this would be the one. I spent hours completing code challenges, took days off to interview, and each time I was turned down at the last round.
The process was demoralizing, constantly questioning my worth and ability. If my years of experience was not enough, then surely I didn’t have what it takes to be a real developer. The rejections hit me so hard that at time stopped trying. But that often didn’t last long.
Eventually, I received an offer from a local company with a reputation of having good engineers. I feel very fortunate to have been accepted. Looking back at all the other positions that I really wanted, those positions don’t quite compare to the one I received. It’s cliche, but I think having gone through all the rejections better prepared me for the one.
There was a dramatic difference onboarding to the new company. For one, they had several engineering teams. The company and process was mature and established and came with all the benefits of being so.
The transition came with learning challenges. As someone who had never been a part of a larger team, the process took time to learn. I was familiar enough with a collaborative process. But a larger company had different procedures, communication channels, and kanban boards to follow. And that flow or dance takes time to learn.
The development stack and language was also different than the one I was familiar with and navigating those waters felt very uncomfortable. Fortunately my manager and team were very understanding and took time to slowly orient me on every level.
I remember a point during my first job where I felt comfortable. I was familiar with everyone, had grown a reputation, and I understood the codebase. It felt safe. I knew I wanted more for myself but I could also see the pain of having to cross the channel. I’m glad I did though.