2020 has been a rather long and eventful year, everyone I am sure has many tales about how their year has been, some good and some bad. For me 2020 has not been a bad year in many ways is has been one of my defining years for many reasons, a lot has happened not all positive but at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 I can look back on 2020 and be happy to see where I started the year compared to where I ended it.
Early 2020 and the Hooq fiasco
The start of the year was already one full of ups and downs, Max, my son, was born on December 2019, this pretty much defined a lot of this year especially the early part of the year and luckily we had my mother in law on hand to help out followed by my parents coming over and being with us for about three months, it was good really and helped a lot. Having a new child is always a challenge, especially considering how the year was going to turn out, however I would also say having him before all this mess was pretty good timing in the end. Max was about a month premature so he had to stay in the hospital for a week under observation and all of these added complications help spiral the medial expenses which made for a difficult start. Luckily Max was fine and didn't and never did have any premature complications and for that we are very greatful and lucky.
The next big event was the conpany I was previous working for, Hooq ended up going bankcrupt and had a bit of a melt down. This was a whole lot of fun during the pandemic period and with a new born at home, timing couldn't really have been worse in many ways. It was very disapointing considering I really liked the team I was working with and who likes applying for jobs let alone during the pandemic times. If truth be told I was already consdering other options at this time, I wanted to get my experience with Hooq at least to 2 years (it was 1 year 8 months by the end) before moving on to something new, however my decission was made for me so I had to look elsewhere. It was strange that everyone knew their job was gone but it allowed us to work together to find new jobs and help others with the job search and this camaraderie was one that I grew to love about the Hooq devs, well the engineers in general, not so much other business elements but that is another story.
Mid 2020 Job Search
We helped each other with CV writing; job applications; and generally getting ourselves ready for jobs, on top of this a group put together a spreadsheet which was passed around LinkedIn and recuriters in general giving extra exposure which also helpped a lot. In many ways us all losing our jobs together helped bring out what made Hooq such a great place to work at and that is something I hope to find again in the future. I feel extra lucky that I was hammered with many many job oppatunities as well, despite the down turn in many indutries a lot have been and continue to grow over the pandamic times providing new chances elsewhere.
Although the lockdown did make interviewing a bit more difficult for me, personally I was able to get through a lot more interviews and in the end found a job that provided much higher salary in a dynamic and interesting niche, freight digitisation, with a rapidly growing team and business that has helped provide me with more full stack experience. I started working with Chinsay in the midst of the lockdown, I had to use my own computer as the laptop was stuck on order and starting a new job remotely is a challenge.
For me I am always anxious about, well, most things and starting a new job with different responsabilities was rather daunting at first. I think it helps I set myself steep goals and force myself to really learn the areas making me go from just started to meaningfully contributing to the platform in just a week, this is something I am very proud of, and of course it took me longer to learn additional areas and I am still learning the system as it is massive but the fact I could intergrate myself so quickly is something I look back on fondly.
Mid - Late 2020 Growth
The year after this point has been continuing on very much as expected, working at Chinsay with a pretty great and forward thinking manager has helped me a lot, I feel he truely values my contributions not just from my code but also my quest for better cleaner code across the platform and the hope to foster an ever better and more friendly work environment pushing new ideas and tech when it makes sense whilst getting everyone more involved. I always felt that although Hooq had a great community and a lot of smart engineers, the management levels didn't really push for improvements and change in the right way all the time and often times I felt my feedback was just disregarded, at least now I feel it is taken seriously and we are together pushing for a better engineering culture and this makes me very happy.
Another big area I have been pushing is the frontend in general, as it is a Microsoft stack project our frontend is pretty bad, this seems almost a pre-requisite at this stage for Microsoft stacks. After I settled into the work a bit I decided to make this my boulder to push, it has been hard and slow going but I am hoping to see some meaningful progress on this in early 2021. I have also been enjoying working more across the stack learning much more about the backend and databases which previously my understanding has been a bit basic but is now growing, and although I know I will never want to spend a lot of my time on the backend, I am very much a frontend developer, it is great to get some production knowledge and is the main reason I joined Chinsay, it certiantly wasn't for the frontend, although the frontend provides pretty much a blank canvas to improve on which is what I hope to see this year.
For all the good I have found at Chinsay it isn't without its challenges and I've started to learn more and more that even in tech work a lot of people like to sit back and do the same thing year in year out which I always find a challenge to understand and believe we all need to be working on improving outselves as well as the business and product and sitting still doesn't help anyone. I also feel the engineering calibre to be a fair bit lower than that of Hooq, broadly, although I do find the management to be much better so it is very up and down overall. My hope is to continue getting a lot out of the company over 2021 but we will see how it goes.
This year was also the year I managed to start seriously saving and investing, I have wanted to do this for sometime, but didn't really have the funds to get into it seriously, now however with a decent salary I can seriously put a good amount away. I've mostly been working on my emergency funds getting everything setup meaning 2021 will be the year when a more sizable amount of my money will be invested and put away and growing my wealth for the future is a big part of what I wanted to get started with and glad I managed to.
I also managed to start working on a big app idea which I aim to dedicate a lot of my freetime in 2021 to. I think in order for me to continue growing I need to work on something big in my freetime to push my knowledge further rather than small throw away projects I hope this will become something big, it has a lot of potential but in the worst case it will provide a very strong portfolio piece and give me something bigger and more exciting to talk about.
A Year In Retrospective
2020 has been a very eventful year, overall for me and my family I feel it has been largely positive with huge amounts of change and is a year I can only describe as transformative. I've changed jobs because I had to but it also helped me realise just how far I had came over the almost two years a Hooq; I have been a father learning the ropes and trying to balance everything whilst still pushing myself forward; I started to save and invest properly which provides the basis for me and my families financial security moving forward; and finally I started working on a new big app that will provide me huge learning experience, a hope for some revenue stream and a strong portfolio piece.
2020 has been a weird one but one I know I will always look back on as one of the main years that helped to shape my future and I expect to look back on 2020 in a few years ever more fondly, it has been a great way to start this decade and I am positive for big things ahead.