The pandemic and politics
happened are happening but I’m talking about the work I’ve been doing the past two years, all that I’ve been learning, how different my work has been, and all of the content I haven’t been posting. As this past contract/project comes to a close I have a bit of time to observe how much my workflow and skillset have changed (for the better).
My freelance career spawned from a desire to get out of the cookie-cutter IT grind. As much as I tried in the positions I held at different companies I couldn’t find a role where I could get my hands dirty producing my own solutions to problems instead of reaching out to Microsoft, Cisco, or VMWare. I taught myself the basics of web development back in the days of Geocities, Tripod, and Angelfire but quickly found that most potential clients were looking for Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress developers.
WordPress is where I landed. It wasn’t long before I felt comfortable enough to leave my IT job and grow a list of clients who needed custom WordPress themes and plug-ins. After a couple of years I was finally comfortable with a couple of retainer clients making up most of my income. Comfortable is one-step away from uncomfortable as I suddenly found out when one of my favored clients informed me they would be focusing on a new project and would no longer need my WordPress services at the same capacity (thus reducing my hours).
There was some mild panic as I now had a month to replace that chunk of my income with a new contract or pipeline of work. Fortunately that same client coached me on acquiring WordPress clients, even putting me in touch with one. It didn’t take more than a couple of weeks for me to fill my pipeline with enough work to get me through the last quarter of the year. It also didn’t take long for me to realize how burnt-out I was on building custom WordPress sites mostly “solving” the same problems and encountering only mild challenges.
In a surprising turn of events the aforementioned favored client reached out to me one day to let me know they had room for a developer on the team now that the contract was “breaking ground.” A quick interview with the lead engineer and I was in! All of those years spent on Code Academy and Team Treehouse taking Python, Ruby, and countless others courses finally paid off, I now had something to use those skills for.
This new role would put me on the roster with far more experienced developers than I who graciously and skillfully took the time to help me develop the necessary skills to be an effective member of the team. I progressed from building custom WordPress themes and plug-ins using Bootstrap/CSS/SASS/HTML/JS/JQuery/MySQL/PHP with WAMP for my local developer environment and no build tools in my “previous life,” to a Docker container group consisting of a Go backend, Vue JS frontend, and a PostgresSQL database.
I now had to learn Go, Vue & Vuetify, Typescript, PostgresSQL, Docker, and Git with a team.. I was finally in a position where I got to see under the hood of how something is built from the ground up. The application we built is a custom solution with its own opinions for solving business-logic problems architected by our lead engineer. It implements an event-oriented and a sort of micro-service design which were decided on for the specific nature and use-case of the application.
Needless to say this was A LOT. The “Imposter Syndrome” cloud certainly darkened the skies from time-to-time but it was no match for the sparks created every time I built something, solved a problem, learned something new, or a concept “clicked.” Now that this contract is reaching its end and new work is being sought I cannot help but hope to work on a project as big and exciting as this one. I’m hungry.. I want to keep learning, progressing, and solving problems. This is how I know I’m ready to take on challenging work instead of staying comfortable.