In October 2018 I started working at Uptrends as a software developer. Before that, I worked at FileLinx for 7 years as a frontend developer, UI / UX designer, and development team lead. This is me sharing some of my experiences on improving the applications I work on.

On starting a new job - the hard parts Feb 20, 2019

If you've read the header at the top of all of my blog posts, you know I switched jobs a couple of months ago. In some ways, I found it harder than I estimated. I'd like to share some of my experiences on starting a new job.

1. A new job meant knowing nothing again

Currently I am in the fourth month of my new job. For the first three months I felt like an idiot. Of course, this wasn't the company's fault: team members and management did everything they could to help me get up to speed. Yes, I took my experience with me. And yes, that meant I understood the product / company / codebase faster than without it. But the learning curve of a new software platform is steep - and it was steeper than I expected. Call me naive, but I expected to be up and running in a week or six. Maybe two months. As it turns out, four months in I know some basic stuff, but every new thing I work on takes me (at least) twice the time I want it to take. That can be very demoralizing at times. It really took me a while (read: still working on it) to come at peace with the fact that it takes approximately a year to feel "fluent" in a new company - or that's what someone told me.

2. A new job meant having to prove myself again

I held my previous position for a couple of years. This meant my team knew what I could do. They knew where I could add value - and more importantly, I knew where I could add value. I've talked it over with my manager during my evaluations, and the position I held was the position I could add the most value to the company. When I started my new job, things were different. I still knew my strengths, but there were some unknowns:

For one, I wasn't sure how I could use my strengths to add value to this new company. There was probably a need for what I could do, else they wouldn't have hired me. But it takes time finding out how and where I have to be to be of most value.

Second, my new team had no idea what I could do - and telling them wasn't enough. They had to see what I could do (Sidenote: this is why it was so frustrating that everything I did those first couple of months took so much extra time). This also meant that I couldn't always do the things I wanted to do. It helped once I found some teammates whose ideas aligned with mine, though.

3. A new job meant fixing somebody else's mess

When I left everything behind at my old job I felt relieved at first. No more that one project I stressed about and no more that deadline coming closer or the documentation is still not done. Total bliss! I never had to worry about any of those projects again!

Unless you're lucky (I guess) and get to start something new, you will end up working on an existing product - as did I. And there I found everything I so happily left behind: legacy code, hard to reproduce issues, obscure features that had to be supported - you name it. Sure, some things were better, but other things were worse. And the hardest part was that instead of it being the code / product I had years of experience with, all of it was completely new to me. So not only did I have to fix issues in obscure code - now it wasn't even my own code!

4. A new job meant a different pace of work

The rhythm and pace of development differ per company. Adjusting to this took me a while. For me the key difference was this: at my old job, we were rebuilding a product from scratch while also doing client projects. This meant we had to finish the client work as fast as possible to be able to continue working on our product. At my new job the focus is on quality and maintainability instead of speed. It was only after I quit my job I noticed how much energy this deadline-focused had cost me. It took me a couple of months (literally) to get accustomed to a different way of working. The first couple of sprints at my new job, I rushed through, delivering suboptimal results. I really had to force myself to get adjusted to this shift in focus to make working at my new job sustainable for myself.

5. A new job meant being tired

As a result of all of the above, combined with the fact that I had a single day of vacation between jobs, I was very tired the first couple of months. I really tried to find a sustainable pace for myself, which helped, but I built in additional rest points thoughout my week. Once a week I took a bath, watching Netflix or reading. That really helped me clear my mind and reset.

6. A new job meant leaving things I love behind

The company I used to work for was great. There were some great people there who truly believed in the product they were building and saw its possibilities. I left a couple of friends behind. I waved goodbye to people I saw 5 days a week for 7 years, and I knew I would only be seeing them on very rare occasions in the future, if at all. I left a product behind that I loved and believed in. I left some great customers.

I left a part of my life behind, and got ready to start a new part. But it definitely wasn't easy. All the more reason to make it worth it.