Inspired by my friend Amy, I decided to write a 2021 year in review. I've never really done this before, but it's been a useful exercise in reflecting on what I've learned, what I've done, and what I'd like to do in 2022.
The biggest thing for me professionally is that I got a new job after a great 3.5+ years at Ad Hoc. I got a software engineer position at Truss, a remote consultancy based in the Bay Area that does a lot of government client work. Like Ad Hoc, it has roots in the healthcare.gov rescue, and tries to bring modern software engineering practices and processes to government and private-sector clients.
Truss does a lot of things right. They have some of the best communication, transparency, and general thoughtfulness of any company I've ever worked for. They have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Their onboarding process was extremely well-documented and detailed. And, for the first time in my tech career, my manager is a woman, which isn't everything, of course, but it is something.
Truss is growing a lot, and they are hiring now, if you are interested.
Full-Stack Development and New Tools
The client project I'm on now is Milmove, the website that is aiming to modernize the way military service members move their families and household goods. Milmove is also an open-source project, which is neat!
Working on Milmove has given me the opportunity to work on my Go chops. I still consider myself primarily a front-end developer, but I've had some exposure and experience with Go in the past, and it's been fun to work with it again and to do some full-stack feature work. I learned about things like using service objects to encapsulate business logic and the three-layer application architecture pattern from internal talks that my coworkers on Milmove gave about the project.
I've also gotten to use some new front-end libraries and patterns that I've not used professionally before, either. Chief among them is Storybook. I had watched some conference talks about Storybook but had never gotten the opportunity to work with it before. Storybook is perfect for designing and building components in isolation, and for showcasing/building up a library of components. I've also gotten to know React Query, and in general, working on an app that is fully built with React hooks has been fun.
I did some more freelance work with Track1099, mostly helping implement a redesign of their website. I appreciated getting to do some pure CSS/HTML work.
The Rest of Life Outside Work
Outside of work, a lot has happened. Obviously, the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic affected my life and psyche, as I'm sure it did for almost anyone reading this. But we also bought a house and moved (back) to Massachusetts this year. This was my first full year of being a parent, too. I was extremely grateful to both the companies I worked for in 2021 for being flexible to me as a new parent and as a parent during COVID.
In general, I really learned the value of a strong work-life balance this year. I do think it is possible to do meaningful work, learn new things, have a satisfying career, and still have time for a life and identity outside of work. 2021 made me extra grateful for that. I was extremely busy with life outside of work, and COVID added a lot of extra anxiety and stress to my life, so having a stable, fulfilling job that also drew strong boundaries about what work should and should not be was doubly important.
I also started a personal blog, where I publish more random writings not related specifically to software development, if you're curious. I migrated some old posts that used to be on this domain to there.
I'm looking forward to hopefully meeting my coworkers in person when it's safe to do so. I'm also looking forward to digging into the small but mighty tech community in Western Massachusetts. I want to think more and write more about the non-technical skills that are becoming increasingly important as I progress in my career as a developer. I want to learn more about NextJS, Typescript, and maybe, maaaaaybe find the time to update this blog more frequently. We will see!