The Start of a New Adventure …

In September of 2014 I left the Federal Reserve, my first development job, for Valorem. Going from the slowness of a financial institution to a consulting company was daunting – and something I was super unsure about. I was comfortable at the Federal Reserve. I had learned a lot in those first 3 years, met a lot of great engineers, and I knew my daily routine. I owed my start in development to an awesome AVP at the Fed who I had told my ultimate goal was to end up as a software engineer. She opened a position, I applied, and the position closed. It was the start of this crazy ride I’m on, and love every minute of. The Federal Reserve set me up for success, showed me what to do – and what not to do – in the world of development and I thought I knew a lot …

However – I wasn’t learning very fast .. and I wanted more. Little did I know I’d get it!

Enter Valorem. A consulting company that was the employment equivalent of going from drinking from a garden hose to a fire hose. I definitely got what I wanted – a fast paced company that would reward you if you were willing to put in the time and effort. I knew I was in for some long hours. The guy that did my technical interview looked tired. Real tired. And he was bright – he wanted me to know just how smart he was .. and I walked away super beat up, and didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to show them that while I’d worked in a slow pace environment .. I was ready to kick it up a notch.

Apparently I did something right – I didn’t bullshit my way through answers, I owned it if I didn’t know something, and I showed I wanted to learn what, why, and how things worked .. even if I couldn’t whiteboard it out. That seemed to work well for me. And so started the next almost 6 years of my life. My love for the .NET world grew, Azure become my playground, and I was happy to learn, grow, and create solutions for clients problems. I learned from some of the brightest people I’ve ever engaged with, and then I was given the opportunity to start sharing that knowledge, and helping grow the next round of new hires, and then the next, and the next, etc. A lot of amazing opportunity came out of my time, a lot of growth, and a lot of challenging myself .. which I love!

It wasn’t always happy times. I worked. A lot. 60-80 hours were the average for a long time. I hit triple digits a couple times. My kids asked me over the course of that time if I loved them, or if I loved work more. It was rough. I have this need to provide a life for my kids that I never had.. and well, that meant sacrifice. It was a huge mistake in the end. Little did I know that over time, I was compounding stress. I wasn’t communicating my being unhappy with over extending .. and I was taking on more, smiling, and working through problems as they came .. which was further compounding resentment. I needed a reset – 6 years is a long time somewhere in our world, and I needed to reset expectations, reset my commitment, and start a new path on this journey that we’re all on.

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My checklist of “wants” going into my next big opportunity weren’t large:

Lateral move in salary.

Why lateral? I suppose I could’ve asked for more … I’d just recently gotten a bump, and I could’ve shot for the sky – but bullet point #3 I felt would affect that, and I wanted #3 more than I wanted an extra X amount of money.

Comparable benefits (5 kids, need that insurance!)

That’s right. 5 kids. We’re nuts, I know. I figure we’ll talk more about these guys later in another post. But for now just know.. this is important. Unfortunately, in America, health and dental is very closely tied to employment.. and the employers willingness to pay part of the premium is the difference between $500-$1000 a month and $3000 a month.

100% remote position

In a COVID world, this is normal. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to fire up a laptop, work from home, and provide value. However, we’ll eventually go back .. and I don’t want to. I’ve gotten used to having my kids be able to pop in and tell me hi. I’ve looked forward to actually taking lunch and engaging with my wife instead of putting in time so I can clock out early. And I’ve enjoyed not having to commute – 2-3 hours a day of on the road time in traffic is nuts. I can spend that with my wife / kids now.

NEW TECHNOLOGY!

This was a problem of mine at the Fed. It was great working in web forms in ASP.NET .. but I wanted to learn about the cloud, branch out into MVC, learn about Javascript Frameworks, and more. I started to feel like I was in the same rut. I wanted to be able to learn React, Typescript, Xamarin, and work on things that were cool! I’d done a lot of API work, backend systems, and these large monolithic engines that processed incredible amounts of data … I wanted to change. And there wasn’t an opportunity to change. So it lead to this…

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I’ve found a new home in Bitwarden. An amazing company that, while it’s been around for a few years in some capacity, is just starting out. I’m the 3rd/4th engineer on the team (another guy started the same day). I’m closing out my first week and I’ve already dove in and started contributing not only on Xamarin (iOS and Android) code, but also worked on issues within Chrome and Firefox extensions. This was something I would’ve never imagined I would’ve touched .. I’m glad I made the change. It was scary .. I was anxious .. and I still have some stuff to work out. But I’m loving what I’m doing again .. and while I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now, it’s important that I continually remind myself why I enjoy doing this.

If you made it this far .. thanks for reading! I’m hoping to put out articles on issues that arise and I find solutions for, projects I’m working on, my real life, and more. If you want to follow me elsewhere, I can be found on the following platforms:

Twitter | GitHub | Twitch

And as always – if you want to reach out or discuss any of the above – there should be a place below to do that Smile I’ll do my best to respond to everyone!

– MTD