Two years ago, I wrote about all the projects I worked on in my first three years at Atomic Object (and as a software developer and consultant). I really value those first three years. That’s because I worked on what I feel was a healthy variety of projects across different domains, and worked with people who taught me a lot. Having recently passed my five-year mark here at Atomic, I was reflecting on my experience since then.
In contrast to my first three years, in the last two years, I’ve been part of a much larger team, on a single project, operating as a tech lead. Initially, this felt like a role I wasn’t ready for, despite some experience with the client and project as a lead. After all, I had spent much of my first three years as a junior developer. However, I’ve been fortunate to have a pair tech lead on the project with me, and the rest of the team has provided great support as I’ve adjusted to the role.
When comparing my time on this project to my first three years working, I notice how much I value the opportunities for breadth and depth in my work. I’ve always enjoyed the variety of work in consulting, but this project gave me the chance to dive much deeper into something than I had before. The deep dive was not just in learning the tech stack but in navigating the client domain as well. Getting the chance to learn these things more deeply made me more confident in my work. That was especially true as my responsibilities grew to include mentorship of new team members, which grew from four to nine developers throughout the project.
On the contrary, the shift to working on a single project has given me some doubts about myself as well. Soon, I’ll join another project for a new client. I occasionally worry about what, within my five years of experience, will apply to whatever I’m working on next. The first half of my career was a firehose of information. I’d worked with a lot of different tools and platforms. But, I worried that I wasn’t always able to contextualize it all within broader software development patterns and practices.
Now, I compare that to the last few years. I’ve been able to dive deep into one project but without much opportunity to apply what I’ve learned to other projects or technologies. In a nutshell, this is my anxiety. How can I expand on my narrow experience as a tech lead or mentor and ensure that experience brings success to future projects?
Fortunately, as with any previous time I’ve felt anxious around my work or role, my peers have given me plenty of support. That’s allowed me to handle the anxiety and move past it. It’s because of that support that I can be proud of how I’ve grown in the last five years. I know it’s equipped me with the tools to continue moving forward as a developer and consultant.