On Being Laid Off: Some Thoughts
I've been dreading writing this one....
I don't know if you noticed but I removed where I was working from pretty much every place I am on the internet. The reason? I no longer work there. Why? A few reasons.
The main reason was lack of work for me. It is a consulting firm, and big one at that. Developers aren't the main priority, and seeing it is a government consulting firm, the budget for devs is tight. This means you must be billed to 100% on projects and if you aren't you're gone.
I had gotten down to 20% and no one wanted to work with me. Why? Well...it's a bit complicated...
I didn't get things done on time. It wasn't that I couldn't do it; the work was well done, my colleagues loved my redesign of a certain government property, calling it slick. It was that I spent too much time on features. You have to move fast in a place like that. I don't want to get into it much but you can have fast, cheap, or good in software so pick two. We had fast and we had cheap; devs aren't making what they are in other industries at that company. And I worked with some nice folks. But when you are moving that quickly, spending a couple hours on features before having to move to the next thing, it makes things brittle and it showed in some of the codebases I worked with.
I spent a lot of time working on a nav, trying to track down a bug. My PM for the project was...impatient1 and told me to do this thing or that because that is what the client wanted. I tried to do that. I found documentation on a specific item she wanted me to do and there wasn't an easy way to achieve it without taking more time on the project.
Everyone was off for about a month because of the holidays and we were behind. Me spending as much time on that feature as I did hindered my progress and the project's as well. I don't feel as if it was my fault. We were all behind. But my issue was moving tickets. For whatever reason, I couldn't grok not finishing something I started, not having something have quality and without major bugs.
I loved the people I worked with2. They were kind and I was just getting into chatting with them before they laid me off. But a corporation as large as that one has a politicking problem. All corps do. We had a reorg and we were under a new boss. The lack of respect for frontend devs there was palpable; there weren't many of us and at the start I was tasked with rebuilding several sites. I was the sole frontend dev on those teams. I could reach out to other frontend devs but everyone was so bogged down with their frontends it was hard to actually link up.
I asked my former boss about hiring more frontend devs. It wasn't in the cards. And my then current boss laid some stuff on me that just. Man. It felt like I wasn't a real developer at that place.
I learned I don't want to do government consulting ever again. Ever. It is a really hard ask for a junior dev and I knew that when I went into it.
I also learned pretty quickly how to use my tools and how to debug. I also learned how to think. I learned about software architecture and how to Google.
It wasn't a complete wash. But now I am unemployed and scrambling for a permanent position.
I have a freelance gig right now that pays ridiculously well, so well that I will be able to pay my exorbitant rent for at least another 5 or 6 months out. And I love the stack, the people at the company are really progressive and seem hella cool.
At first when I saw the scope of the project and the deadline I froze a bit. But as I dug into the codebase and talked to the team I get that this is basically just some CSS-in-JS stuff and shipping a JAMStack site. It will be okay. Today, I am no longer scared of working with this project and the things I learned at my last place of employment has really helped with my new found confidence.