I switched jobs almost six months ago, and it has been one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in my professional career.
Let me explain.
About a year before the pandemic, I was presented with a job opportunity that seemed too good to be true. I was working as a frontend engineer at an Israeli startup, remotely from Guatemala, and the hours were excruciating because we were an outsourced team. Our local manager still operated under the impression that software development froze in 1998. During this time, I was also doing some moonlighting for a financial trading firm, working on small projects related to software/IT.
In late July of 2019, I was given the opportunity to join the trading firm in a full-time capacity. I would still be working remotely until my US work permit was authorized. The pay was a nice step-up from my Israeli startup gig as well.
As time went on, I slowly started to realize that my involvement in software development and anything related to my previous experience was decreasing. I was required to take a securities exam and study the basic economic theories behind the stock markets and various investment vehicles. I have to say, it was not my favorite thing in the world, but I figured I would find a way to combine my software development expertise with this new knowledge down the line, benefiting everyone at the company.
And I happily obliged. I spent the next 3 years forgetting everything I knew about software and learning everything I could about stock markets and wealth management. Along the way, I made lots of mistakes. It was also around this time that my son was diagnosed with autism, which started to take a toll on my mental health.
For various personal reasons that I will not discuss here, I felt I needed a way out to provide my son with adequate autism treatment, so I started looking for greener pastures in late 2022. After about a month of interviewing with several companies, job offers started coming in. I chose one that would provide the medical insurance coverage my family needed.
I was elated to be back in a software development role at last. Surely things couldn’t have changed that much since 2019, right? I quickly realized that I might as well have been in a coma for those almost 4 years, and the result would have been the same.
I have spent the last six months catching up with a group of professional developers who are way smarter than me. At least, that’s what it feels like.
My confidence and creativity are slowly coming back, I can tell. I used to think I already knew the basics and was well-rounded in everything needed to bring an idea or concept to fruition in terms of software development, only to realize years later that not only did I know very little, but also the little I thought I knew could be done in more clever and efficient ways.
Humility is a quality that is tough to learn and accept. There will always be someone better and smarter. In retrospect I thought the biggest takeaway was leaving my comfort zone and expanding my professional horizons but in reality it has been the personal side of this journey that has made me grow as a professional and individual.