Alex Bourlotos
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My Developer Journey: Dev Retro 2022

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

My Developer Journey: Dev Retro 2022

From burn-out to total career overhaul.

Alex Bourlotos's photo
Alex Bourlotos
·Dec 22, 2022·

5 min read

This year taught me a lot about myself.

I was at the same company for eight years. Despite others' advice, I was still working hard to get promoted rather than looking elsewhere for another opportunity. I worked as a Service Desk support person, Systems Technician, Quality Analyst (web) and Software Developer (GuideWire/GOSU/Java).

When I left, I had been a developer for one year. That was most of 2022. I hope reading this will inspire some of you to take matters into your own hands! This is my year.

My first developer position burned me out.

I see it all the time, congratulations posts on tech Twitter for breaking into tech. I didn't post too much about my break because I don't count it. I worked at an insurance company and had been learning web development in my free time. I passed up a couple of positions to try to stay in the web space but I was shifted over to GuideWire Quality Assurance and eventually offered a developer role building out their internal application.

What ensued was a lot of structured training. I got the associate-level GuideWire developer certification after months of e-learnings. I wasn't thrilled about the product, or the tech stack. I found myself wondering if I'd made a huge mistake. Then, my department got put on hold.

I had nothing to do but support other teams, which never happened. For the entire year that I was a "developer", I wasn't learning by example, being exposed to new things or even getting valuable work done. I even started to question myself and my motives until I learned what burnout was.

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

I decided to change careers.

I've been learning web development as a hobby but I've never finished a boot camp or course. I enrolled in Angela Yu's Complete Web Development Bootcamp in March and told myself to get through it (minus the web3 portions for now). Work wasn't giving me a lot to do so I wasn't going to let it put me at a stalemate when considering personal development.

I finished the course in August and then thought of what my next steps would be. I watched the first video in a LinkedIn series by Danny Thompson (Link: Use LinkedIn as a Developer) that showcased a recruiter criticizing and giving advice to other LinkedIn profiles. I took the advice and revamped my own.

If you want to take a look and/or connect and follow me, my profile is here: Alex's LinkedIn Profile

I decided to model my resume after my LinkedIn. I had a good template that showcased my skills well so it wasn't hard to make them very similar. I was excited to apply for jobs but I didn't have a portfolio or anything to show anyone.

Then it happened.

That night a recommended job popped up on my iPhone notifications. "You look like a good fit for this role at Best Buy - Web Developer". At 2:00 AM I could have ignored it, but I decided to open it anyway.

It read like a dream. A web developer on a digital content team. The requirements listed were only HTML, CSS and Bootstrap. The rest was a little vague but I applied immediately. I used to work for Geek Squad back in 2012 and I've always loved Best Buy as a company so I figured it would be a great chance to get some conversation in at the very least.

I got a call back the next day. The recruitment team was awesome and advocated for my needs as well as Best Buy. One interview turned into a second, then a third and finally a fourth. I created a portfolio website between the first and second, and researched web layouts extensively for the coding test on the third.

Alex's Portfolio

I got an offer! They were super excited to bring me on and I got everything I was hoping to get compensation and benefit-wise moving from one company to the next.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

I'm a newbie again!

It's been a wild first month as a web developer. I've gotten to know a great team of people and even completed my first couple of development tickets. It's interesting to see how different a structured course is from the varying needs of an organization. I've already increased the accessibility of a table for screen readers, fixed some button layout issues on hover and am looking into using session cookies to track and pass data to URLs.

I've been more valuable in my new role in the last week than I have been during my entire last year and a half at my previous company.

Final thoughts for you!

In nine months, I changed the course of my entire career.

That change allowed my family to reach new goals, and my wife can now pursue her goal of being a self-published author without relying on employment elsewhere. She too will be able to focus full-time on making her passion a lucrative reality.

I got lucky and found a local job, looking for entry-level talent, with valid requirements. I got lucky in that the VERY FIRST company I applied to hired me. But I did the work and made someone confident in my ability.

So do the work! If you have an idea of how you want your life to go, start laying out the steps and do one of them. Keep going until your life starts to resemble what you want and then do more.

I have no doubt my (now 3-year-old) son will feel inspired by what his parents are doing to forge a meaningful life across all angles.

That was 2022. I can't wait to see what's ahead!

 
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