Software Dev. Career, Year One: Expectations vs. Reality

Somehow, it’s been over a year since I first began working at Atomic Object. The last 12 months have flown by, and my one year “AO-versary” really sneaked up on me. With this small-yet-notable career achievement unlocked, I thought I would take a look back on how things have gone.

Technical Skills

One of the things I was most immediately concerned about after graduation was finding a job that would help me build an array of technical skills. While I expected that my strength as a software developer would increase as I began full-time work, I’ve been surprised by just how much I’ve learned in the past year at AO.

A consultancy seems to be a great fit for me, especially early in my career, because it gives me the opportunity to explore a lot of new technologies. I’ve already worked on two projects with somewhat different web development stacks. This has given me practice in finding both similarities and differences between specific technologies. In the future, that will help me better decide which languages, libraries, and tools to use when solving new problems.

I’ve also had the opportunity to consistently practice effective test-driven development. Back in school, TDD was always discussed as a thing you’d probably want to consider doing. In a small school project, it might be easy enough to throw some small tests together, but I certainly didn’t have the exposure to building out test suites in a way to help drive large application production. While it took a little bit of getting used to, I have enjoyed writing code in this way, and it has certainly helped me feel much more confident in the code that I’m writing.

Company Values and Benefits

While gaining technical skills was my short-term priority, the values and benefits of my employer were a long-term concern. I was hoping to find a company that I would enjoy staying with for a long time. For that to work out, I needed to find an employer whose values align with my own. Additionally, I would need to find a place with a benefit package that would make sense over time, especially if I ever start a family.

First, let’s talk values. One of my original reasons for reaching out to Atomic Object was the values listed on their website. I’ve been blown away by how thoroughly the company and its employees live these values–both in and out of the office. It’s one thing to be really good at your job, but it can be an entirely different thing to also be a really good human.

I could probably ramble on for hours about all of the examples I’ve seen of Atoms demonstrating their commitment to these values, but that might make this post a bit too long. In a “short and sweet” way, I’m just very excited and thankful that I get to work with some really bright and dedicated individuals. Additionally, I’m grateful to be at a company that truly values everyone as people first.

The benefits at AO have certainly echoed this idea, as well. Once again, I was looking for a place that could provide a nice long-term fit. For that, I needed to find something that would be compatible with my future personal relationships and, possibly, a family of my own.

While researching Atomic, I saw some very crucial bullet points: “A Sustainable Working Pace” and “Parental Leave.” By maintaining a working pace around 40-42 hours per week, I’m able to spend regular personal time with my family, friends, and significant other, which helps me maintain relationships that are very important to me. This also allows me to keep a relatively healthy lifestyle, since I’ll have plenty of time to stay active outside of the office. When paired with the parental leave policy, this approach prevents me from worrying, “Do I want a job or a family?”

Atomic is also dedicated to helping us continually grow as makers and people. I’m currently in the Accelerator program, which is a professional development program targeted to recent college graduates. The support for growth won’t stop when my time in that program is over, however. All Atoms are provided with opportunities for paid professional development.

It means a lot to me that the company I’m working for is willing to invest time and money into my growth, far more than just simply paying for the day-to-day work I’m doing.


My last big area of concern when looking for employment was whether I’d be able to make friends. I find it pretty easy to get along with most people. Making close friends, on the other hand, can be much trickier. It can get even harder when your primary interactions are at work and there’s less time to have personal conversations. AO thought this part through, as well, and offers regular opportunities for colleagues to gather after the work day and spend time socializing.

I’ve had the chance to get to know many of my coworkers, and I’ve actually become quite close with several of them, despite not working on the same team. Without those company events to meet my colleagues, I might not have been as likely to connect with these new friends. Finding good friends has felt like the “cherry on top” of the other things I was looking for and managed to find in Atomic Object.

Looking Ahead

Maybe it goes without saying at this point, but I’m incredibly excited to continue my journey here. The company has proven to be a really excellent fit for me. I’m very thankful and feel lucky that I was able to find something that suits me so well, and I can’t wait to see how my career and life continue to unfold.