P`s Blog


Career advice for freshers

July 12, 2020 • ☕️ 4 min read

Many a times I come across Twitter posts which ask -

What would you advice your younger self?

In my previous post I described how we created OKRs at Curalie. Apart from filling the below table -

Good Bad
Like xx xx
Dislike xx xx

I also asked my colleagues to think about the following:

  • Short term goal (6 months from now)
  • Medium term goal (1 year from now)
  • Long term goal (far vision)

It was quite interesting to listen to the answers and this made me wonder how my younger self would have answered to these same questions. In one of my earlier post I spoke about how things were for me a decade ago!

After I started working full time as a Software Engineer, during the first year I did UI development only. Having freshly graduated from college, jQuery was new to me and we were using it back then. There were few things about jQuery which I could not understand well, it was also because I never really understood JavaScript. At my second job at Aiaioo Labs, is when I met this awesome mentor and I learned from him how to learn coding the right way. Critical thinking is crucial for programmers and he thought me how to think about every line of code written. Code should not be written for the sake of writing, but we need to understand what we expect to achieve and what we want the machines to respond.

For example: I was blindly using position: absolute vs relative and it took some time to really get a hang of asking why was i using absolute vs relative positioning, and once I started doing this it became more frequent and more natural.

I also had to opportunity to do full-stack, understand about BE systems, dev ops, databases, UI design etc. If I can recollect, it is the learning environment which I had which led me learn and grow. Sometimes I had to do photoshop, sometimes Java, or sometimes think about why our nodes were down or running slowly. I was also taking basic lessons on machine learning. I remember signing up n number of times to this course on Coursera, but never completed it. I was working at a startup, and lot of people including my parents were asking me to leave this company and join a bigger firm. But I stuck to it mainly because I realised how much I had to learn. As they say,

No risk, no story!

After about ~5 years, I decided I wanted to dig deeper into the frontend universe. The role of full-stack didn’t make much sense to me because I started to think that one can never get really good at full-stack given the growing no. of technologies, languages and frameworks. That’s when I landed a job in Berlin and started working as a full-time frontend engineer.

And now, when I lead other engineers, I wonder and realised had I not had the opportunity to do full-stack, it would have not been possible for me to understand cross-domain dependencies or quickly build prototypes to evaluate a feature or a project. The advice from my previous post is still relevant -

Everything happens for good!

So, during these years I have attended numerous technical interviews, failed at tons and have answered this golden question or taught to myself about what I want to be in the long run. Sometimes I have blindly blabbered that I wanted to be the CTO but not knowing or not having a plan about how to get there. My mentor, during my second job did also a good job in making me realise what I was lacking or what I had to achieve / master to reach the end goal. He always saw me as a good programmer, but sometimes I was lazy and was not pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.

So coming back to the point about listening to my directs tell me what their short / long term goals were, and thinking what I would have answered, it made me realise that my answers wouldn’t or have not been different. The short term goal was always to get good at one particular thing, for example writing tests. The long term goal was getting good at everything. Now comes the tricky part about one cannot be good at everything. One can do everything but can never be good at everything.

So as a leader, I suggest people to chase their dreams. Create a learning curve of yourself, get it verified from my peers or mentors. Find yourself a mentor. Nowadays there is internet and lot of options to find a mentor. Do things out of your comfort zone, try to push yourself hard. Pick one topic where you want to get good at and draw out an effective plan or a strategy to achieve it.

Do not be afraid to ask questions and most importantly make sure it makes you happy!