Ever feel like everyone except you manages to navigate the choppy waters of building and maintaining a career in professional software development? These high achievers sail from strength to strength, propelled along by a clear map, a well-calibrated compass, along with ample reserves of knowledge, skills, and self-confidence. Whereas you’re stuck on a rocky shore, unsure of where exactly you are and where you should be going. Apprehensive that you don’t have what it takes to reach the high seas.
Well, this was me a while back. I had worked as a software developer for over a decade. At first, it was smooth sailing. I joined a respectable company with interesting, societally impactful projects. I learned various technologies (any MS SharePoint Server 2007 survivors out there?), continued studying alongside work, and enjoyed the many wonderful aspects of the dev profession.
However, gradually my outlook became rockier. I switched jobs. I didn’t dare to apply to the best-of-class companies or the more challenging positions because I’ve always tended towards impostor syndrome. I had not built strong professional networks, and whatever networks I did have, I didn’t dare utilize. All self-promotion felt alien.
Years went by, and I stalled professionally, which in this industry means going backward. I was entangled in legacy systems, doing odd jobs and patchy maintenance. SOAP instead of REST; on-premise instead of cloud; ASP.NET Web Forms or WPF instead of the latest .NET offerings or the hippest JS frameworks. Working in a tiny dev team meant limited possibilities for collegial learning and support, so when I did get to try out newer techs, I rarely had someone to bounce ideas off. Hello, boreout! I was deeply anxious I’d missed the up-to-date developer boat so completely that I’d never climb back aboard.
Breaking free from the tangle
But behold! Last year I saw the light: things had to change. I applied to a few dev positions, again with zero skills in network utilization, social media presence, hobby project showcasing, or any of the supposed must-dos in today’s recruitment market. In a fit of bravery, I also sent an application to Solita, because I’d long had a positive image of the company. Moreover, I’d seen some Solita consultants in action and been wowed by their easy-going professionalism.
Despite my disbelief, I ended up at Solita. I was honest right from the start concerning my imperfections, most notably the need for catching up with modern development. But it was all okay! Together we would find ways to get me going again in an environment that consciously promotes psychological safety.
Rediscovering professional growth
I got to join a project with extremely talented, helpful colleagues and super pleasant customers. I’m now getting to grips with single-page apps, the Elastic stack, Optimizely products, and proper CI pipelines. There’s a ton to learn, it takes grit and is not always easy or pleasant. I keep having to tell myself imperfection is still okay, and I can only do my best. Fortunately, Solita offers a wide range of avenues for personal and professional growth, and they are not only meant for IT newcomers. For instance, I joined a mentoring program, where I get to benefit from the expertise of a senior colleague in exploring my work practices and competencies.
Besides the project team(s), Solita employees also have the support of a separate administrative team, and what a wonderfully diverse bunch we are! I’ve found this home base valuable, and my People Leads’ caring attitude has been touching. I feel like a whole person at work - not just a resource in an Excel file. Various team and company events boost this cozy feeling, and anyone is free to set up hobby events ranging from flower wreath binding to ice swimming. If you feel your dev career needs some reviving, too, why not join the Solita crew?
Photos by author