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Alexandra Lim

2021: Year in review

Junior developer, Year in review, Career growth3 min read

I don't know about you, but 2021 felt simultaneously long and short. I started at Fullscript in January, and I feel like I've grown a lot as a developer this past year. I've been meaning to start a hype (or bragging) doc, and I still haven't gotten around to it, so why not review my year instead?

Core technical skills

Prior to Fullscript, I'd never worked in React and TypeScript professionally. I'm no expert by any means, but a few weeks ago, I'd presented an idea of how I would implement a somewhat challenging task, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my senior developer agreed that he would have also done it the same way. I can't tell you which task it is now, but I'm getting somewhere and my technical skills are slowly, but surely coming along.

I had also never written integration and unit tests before this year, and I'd struggled a lot especially when we decided to make the switch to React Testing Library (RTL) in March. I still grumble about failing specs, but I've been able to give more feedback in pull requests regarding RTL, and spend less and less time successfully converting large Enzyme specs to RTL.

Adjacent technical skills

I also joined the company mid-project, and that was tough. Coming from an agency-like setting where I was customizing an existing platform, I had no experience planning and building a product feature, and being part of the planning stage made it so much easier to implement the feature. I've realized that I like to be involved in many aspects of planning including reviewing designs and providing feedback, and even leading a task breakdown. I enjoy brainstorming with design and product, and being that person who always speaks up about copy (sorry, not sorry to my designer). This year, I've been a part of a few impact-heavy projects including pricing experiments, and making over existing product features with mind-blowing results based on our A/B tests (also new to me).

Data requirements were also a mystery to me. What kind of questions were we hoping to answer based on the data we proposed on gathering? Being pushed to lead a project meant that I would be in charge of coordinating with our data team to answer these questions, and to ensure that we were collecting and analyzing the right data for crucial A/B tests that would help determine my team's roadmap.

I've also gotten over my fear and anxiety about being on-call. At Fullscript, one front-end, and one back-end developer monitors and triages the error monitoring platform daily. Nothing triggered my anxiety more than investigating an issue, and coming back to see 50 more occurences in Airbrake. I've learned to understand the errors with time, have successfully fixed some errors, and am currently involved in training new developers as they start their on-call journey. There's still plenty to learn about on-call, but I can confidently train someone, so that's a huge win in my books.

Last, but not least, writing. I wrote about showing up as a junior developer a few months ago, and my team lead enjoyed it so much that he shared it with the entire department. I write mostly for myself, and having so many developers that I look up to tell me how much they liked the post was so heartwarming. At first, I was embarrassed that my team lead wanted to share it, but after the great reception, it pushed me to join a blogging event at work. I'm now in the process of writing a post for our department's blog, Builders' Corner. About what? I guess you'll have to stay tuned.

So, I guess that's it for 2021. I decided to write this on a whim, but this was the personal retrospective I didn't know I needed. I'm proud of how much I've learned and how far I've come in a year, and I'm already looking forward to writing another year in review for 2022. I highly recommend that everyone does this, even if you do already have a hype/bragging document.