Laid Off But Leveled Up, Lessons Learned


I noticed something since picking up this freelance project, something I never had, ever, since the day my journey as a dev began:

I have confidence.

It's something I noticed when I was doing the freeCodeCamp JavaScript Data Structures & Algorithms challenges. I could Google a thing I felt was the right answer, but not the answer, just something to guide me in the right direction. And most often, I could discern what I needed to do from there.

This was huge: before I landed my first job, I had been years into this and still couldn't figure out algorithms without much help and it was super deflating, frustrating. I got hired and got thrown right into the fire almost immediately.

I liked to say in some of my first intro videos on podcasts and my old Squarespace portfolio I could learn on my feet which just wasn't true, not for this profession. Getting the job I had, seeing the blank editor and not knowing what in the world I was doing, on a deadline, scared me. I had anxiety quite often1. I still had to perform. I had issues with that, but eventually I learned that, no I didn't need to write a UI from scratch, there were libraries. I learned what the Web Developer Chrome Extension (opens in a new tab) actually did besides give me responsive layouts2. I learned how to actually use the Chrome DevTools and Inspect Element dialogue to debug issues. I learned how to think. I learned to lean on my team. I learned how to dive into a codebase and get started on it without thinking too much about it, which is helping me in my current project.

Leveled up

I made mistakes at my [REDACTED]. I honestly did. Some things were difficult because I was a junior engineer without much support and working as a government consultant means you aren't given the freedom to fail and get up; things need to be done, you need to be billed. Period. I didn't quite get that and it cost me. But I am on pace in my current project and they are super kind folks that hop in and guide me along.

No longer a junior

I can confidently say I am a mid-level frontend engineer for the first time and hot damn does it feel great...


  1. Resulting in a full on panic attack the day before Thanksgiving. This is when I knew things were going south for me and the company.

  2. That's all I used it for until my boss showed me how he used it.

© tiff