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blog of developer & bookworm benjamin read

2021 Review / 2022 Aims

2021 continued the trend of being more challenging than any period before it, in terms of maintaining some sort of normality to our lives. However there have been some really good things too. Here's a review of what I set out to achieve and what I want to achieve this year

When 2021 dawned I was still a Mid Level Software Engineer at Zopa. That changed in April as I took a new role as Senior JavaScript Engineer at Purple Bricks. It was a great boost for my self confidence and a fantastic team to work with. But 2022 finds me at another turning point: going from that to a split between DevRel and Fullstack Engineer at Webiny. With that change comes some reassessment of where I want my career to go in the next year.

What I wanted to achieve

I set out to improve how I was doing in these following areas:

Advocacy and mentoring

At the start of the year I was trying to build better bridges between disparate teams at Zopa. I enjoyed that a lot. My desire to do more of that got a massive boost when I joined Purple Bricks as one of their 3 Seniors.

It was fantastic to not only mentor various members of the team, but also help set the direction of the whole chapter. I also enjoyed delivering a training course to the business on GraphQL, and building what was for me the most complex system I've built: a messaging app.

But what I remember most fondly was the moment I told my colleague Helen that this was my first Senior role. "Wh ... what?!" was her response! I've been keen to demonstrate that I don't always have the answers (or even the best answers), and that I often don't know what I'm doing, and I think that has actually boosted the confidence others have in me, rather than the opposite.

Follow through

Yep, I definitely have had to give this some attention. But as most of the follow through has been on making sure more junior teams aren't still stuck after I've left them with a solution. I think I've got better at this, at least I hope I have!

Not giving up

I'm still bad at this! I'm more persistent definitely, and I'm a lot more comfortable at diving through code I don't understand and finding ways around problems. But I also realise my personal style is a lot different to my friend David's, and I've become more comfortable with my own aptitudes.

Aside from these, I've really got used to digging into pipeline problems, environment issues, using Kubernetes and Helm, as well as getting better at Javascript in general, routing, graphql, and different rendering options.

What I want to achieve this year

There wasn't much technological focus in last years' ambitions, but I know for certain that there are going to be some strong tech challenges this year!

Fullstack

I've been working a lot with NextJS applications at Purple Bricks. That has helped me build a better mental model about static, server and client rendering, and the benefits and hazards of each. Also, I have come to really enjoy the flexibility of NextJS with each of these methods.

But I still have been predominantly working on the client. I'm really looking forward to working with lambdas at Webiny, and I hope it'll really help me build my understanding of server side.

Serverless

Now that I understand the principles and benefits of fullstack applications, I can't wait to discover more about serverless, and how it solves some of these problems. I anticipate it'll have it's own set of caveats too, and I can't wait to understand these more. I'm also looking forward to understanding more about AWS service and APIs.

State management

One of Webiny's applications is a page builder, with a lot of heavy state management using Recoil. It's going to be really great to get more into a state-heavy application and learn more about that world.

Content creation

As of the time of writing, I have never made a TikTok video. I think this is about to change with my taking on a part DevRel role at Webiny. That seems really scary to me at the minute since I know nothing about video editing let alone how to tell a story in less than 1 minute.

Community building

This is the one I'm really looking forward to. Webiny has so much potential. I can't wait to see where the team take this product. There's already a small community with some really great contributors and users, I'm hoping that I can help blow that up to a much larger audience in the next year.

I'm sure there's going to be a lot more to learn coming up ... but that's quite enough to get started with!!