/ Introspective

A month of being dumb.

a retrospective of how and why I changed my job.

Change the room

Changing the room is a non-trivial task. It's one of those things that sound easily achievable and yet they're not. Over the last 6 years, I've been teaching myself that feeling comfortable is a bad thing. It's counterintuitive and that's what makes it hard.

We look forward to both mental and physical comfort. Embracing comfort is one of the easiest paths to mediocrity and that's why I try to avoid it. Or at least in the long term.

I've had many opportunities to change my job. Being a young white male programmer has made me pretty hirable through the years. (Although I may not agree completely with that - it's a fact). Most offers that came through I passed on because I felt comfortable where I'm at. I wasn't the "smartest" one in the room but still - I was fairly comfortable at my position. In retrospective - I wasn't learning new stuff as quickly as I could have.

That's when I made the jump. I changed the room. I left my job at a Gamedev studio and started working in a "late-stage" Fintech startup. And oh boy - it was scary.

I've been on the edge of my seat for the last X months. I feel stupid on a regular basis (98% of the day). And I started to feel like I'm growing rapidly once again. Some examples include figuring out a face of Git I never knew existed, managing to implement stuff I've only read about in Martin Fowler's books, grasping together a huge toolset that accomplishes one single task etc.

It's the most unintentional fun I've had in the past year!

"Changing the room" sounds easy and straightforward on paper but in reality is just another complicated process one can (and probably should) master. Having meaningful work (and life) relationships and extracting as much value as possible from them is a balancing act that pays off immensely in the long run.

My advice - Explore your options and just jump. You'll figure the details out eventually.

Question authority

Being the new guy is as easy as it is hard. Playing dumb is one of the easiest things you could do. But when everyone treats you like the new guy - you have to be the one that sculpts his own image in front of the others. And that can't happen without stepping on some toes.

The new environment (in my case - the new job) is already filled with people that have established some rules and a hierarchy they play along with. And as things go - nothing is set in stone. Just because someone has been in the company X years more than you doesn't mean that you shouldn't hit them with an uncomfortable question.

My advice - just make sure it is the right question. Go the extra mile to make your research and put some extra effort into gathering as much context as you can before asking the question. You could also think of some of the probable answers and come up with the right following questions. The fear is what is going to stop you. It's also the thing that'll prevent you from progressing.

People would much rather admire you for asking the right questions than punish you for not taking authority into account.

Embrace the irony

Not so long ago I was appalled by the idea of working for a Fintech startup. It seemed that everyone around me was working in one! "Pshh, working in Fintech is so mainstream!"

Well, fast-forward several years and that's what I'm doing now. And I love it. Not because it's the best job in the world or it's the most interesting domain out there. I love it because it feels like the "right" job right now for me and it's challenging enough so that it keeps me growing at a steady pace.

My last advice - Don't be quick to dismiss stuff you know nothing about. You'll find interesting problems to solve in even the most seemingly dull places.