Three Is The Magic Number

Three Is The Magic Number

2018, Sep 23    

A overview of my time in technology.



I try to treat a lot of my career and personal development much like I would a technical iteration. I conduct retros, plan my work, try to put it in workable manageable chunks and tackle one thing at a time. To some degree this works, but as pressure builds sometimes the careful planning goes awry. I start trying to juggle tasks, the retro’s become more negative than constructive, as with a team that’s in a bad place starts to focus on all the negatives, I do the same to myself. This will go on a while until the rut is recognised and actions are made to change the status quo.

I think a lot of what we do in software engineering can be applied in day to day life. We are iterating on ourselves after all. Even for the little things (if you haven’t Kanban-ed your Christmas gift list yet - it will change your whole experience). There is one thing I haven’t adopted yet which is the sprint demo.

Most sprint demos are an act of celebration of the work completed. A huzzah and hurray. It’s a move from the negative gripes and the continual building to take a step back and show off the grand stuff you’ve produced as a team. This is often done publicly to stakeholders, sometimes to the whole company if the company is small enough. For this experiment, you are my audience. Welcome to the sprint demo of my three years in Technology.

Now this post might seem like a not so humble brag, but honestly it’s not. I recognise when it’s written down, I’m doing pretty alright. It’s been a busy time. As with any retro for a piece of work that’s really dragging out, I have the bad habit of focusing on the negatives, what’s not gone to plan or what I haven’t done yet, never taking the time to acknowledge or celebrate what’s been accomplished. I’m hoping that by taking a step back and acknowledging how much progression I’ve made and what’s been achieved in the last three years - I might start being a little nicer to myself for a while.

I went to a talk by Lars Klint at NDC Sydney where he talked about goal setting and making plans. I’m not the most confident person and I’m relatively introverted despite outward appearance. Over the years I have been working on being able to talk publically. This started with asking questions at events, then asking the first question, then trying to speak.

It’s not a thing I would have considered without encouragement from others. Thank you to the likes of Todd Gardner and Mat McLoughlin for critiquing abstracts and others for pep talks and advice. Also to Moreton, who is a continual support. It’s true what they say, you should surround yourself with more experienced, smarter people than yourself. It is a great way to learn and grow.

Off the back of these small accomplishments, I have had an amazing year. I have met people I admire, traveled the world (something I’ve never been able to afford or have the time to do), I’ve learnt new things and challenged myself. Speaking is still terrifying to me, but I am still learning and trying to make myself better.

Part of the reason I’ve decided to do this publicly is to encourage others to stop, take a step back, and do the same. Whether your accomplishment is “made an omelette for the first time” or “opened a chain of popular hotels”, they are your wins. They are personal. You are winning.


My Sprint Demo

2016

The year after having graduated from Birmingham University with a 1:1 MSc in Computer Science.

  • Attended 2 hackathons (I attended two while doing my degree, so not a first)
  • Founded and ran Women In Tech Nottingham
  • Organised a charity viewing of Hidden Figures to raise money for Code Club.
  • Did a talk on what I have learnt from 1 year in the industry at Birmingham University (the nerves would put me off repeating this experience for some time)
  • Moved from being a Graduate Developer to Developer at my job

2017

  • Asking the first question after a meetup talk
  • Asking the first question after a conference talk.
  • Attended one hackathon
  • Stepped away from Women in Tech and handed it over so that I could concentrate on other things.
  • Volunteered at NDC London.
  • Volunteered at NDC Oslo.
  • First panel talk at a conference.
  • My first ever talk at a meetup, Tech On Toast (15 mins).
  • Spoke at Derbyshire DotNet increasing the talk time to 25 mins.
  • My first ever conference talk. This was a 10 minute talk at DotYork
  • Accepted to speak at NDC London

2018

  • Part of a four person podcast
  • Attended one hackathon (so far)
  • Sponsoring new talent for talks and mentoring some who asked. This includes getting a conference talk for a first time speaker and helping them where I can.
  • Won Rising Star of the Year Award.
  • Spoken at more meetups.
  • Planning a conference which I will be running in partnership with Moreton next year. This includes:
    • Diversity scheme
    • Mentorship scheme
    • CFP training talks at meetups
  • Director of a not for profit organisation
  • Spoken / Speaking at 5 conferences
    • NDC London
    • WXG
    • NDC Minnesota
    • NDC Sydney
    • TechoramaNL
  • First time taking a long haul flight / a long haul flight alone.
  • CFP accepted for 1 talk next year (so far)
  • Selected as on of the CodeFirst:Girls Ones to Watch

The book Ends talks about how people are really bad at acknowledging all kinds of ends. In a culture of iterating and improving, I guess I can understand why it is so hard.

I’m going to endeavour to do more personal sprint demos. Maybe not as public in the future, and definitely for shorter periods of time, but I am going to acknowledge the accomplishments.

Well, happy third tech birthday to me. Does this mean I’m a real grown-up developer yet?

J x


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