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2021 Year in Review

My 2021 Journey

2021 was a year I spent trying to find what I wanted to do. Let me set the scene.

In September of 2020, I started my senior year of college and decided to change my major from electrical engineering to computer engineering. This happened because I discovered web development during the start of covid and fell in love with it. So starting from September, I worked on side projects to improve my coding skills while taking classes in electronics and hardware (along with a few CS classes).

Transitioning to software

In January 2021, I landed a full-time job as an electrical engineer with a power company I previously interned at. Even though I knew I wanted to eventually transition to software, I accepted the role. My plan was to start working for them then slowly transition internally or externally to a software role. It was set to start in June, after I graduated.

Then from February to June of 2021, in addition to going to classes, I worked on side projects and grinded leetcode on the side to prepare for future software engineering interviews. I knew that a lot of companies tested on data structures and algorithms so I spent dozens of hours doing just that.

June finally rolled around and I got a DM from a startup based in San Fransisco. They said they thought I was a good fit for their developer advocate role and asked if I wanted to interview. The first thing I did was google what a developer advocate even was before starting their interview process. The skills for the role seemed to mesh well with mine, especially with my experience in building communities at my last startup and content creation. The role also seemed exciting, it was in San Fransisco so I'd get to move somewhere new, and it paid well. So when I got an offer, I decided to take it.

Moving to San Fransisco

The next month, in July, I packed my bags in Philadelphia and moved cross country to San Fransisco.

I did two months with the startup I joined before they realized they didn't really need a developer advocate, and I got laid off at the end of August. At this point, I'm kind of panicking. I had just settled in a new appartment and bought furniture and was stuck with a 12 month lease in the country's most expensive city without a job. Not to mention, I'm an international student so there was additional pressure in landing a job soon in order to maintain my status in the US.

I spent September applying and interviewing for developer advocate roles. I DMed CEOs and hiring managers on Twitter, asked my friends for referrals, and applied to tons of Linkedin jobs. After a few weeks, I was fortunate to recieve a few offers and ended up accepting a role at Vercel that I started in late September.

Vercel has been an incredible ride so far. My boss trusts me and gives me the autonomy and support to do great work. My team inspires me on a daily basis and are incredibly helpful with feedback whenever I need it. I've been able to play a small part in organizing Next Conf, interact and grow our Next.js community, and deliver a handful of conference talks. I feel fortunate to have found a place I fit so well in and a job I deeply enjoy.

2021 highlights

Here are some of my highlights from 2021:

  • 10 side projects (including one for a medical device that got a patent!)
  • 90 commits to open source repos
  • Spoke at my first 4 conferences on Next.js and Prisma
  • Met amazing people in San Fransisco & New York
  • Freelanced for 2 startups doing both software and marketing
  • Graduated from Drexel with a degree in Computer Engineering
  • Landed a dream job with Vercel as a developer advocate

Goals for 2022

My 3 big goals for 2022 are the following:

1. Become a great frontend developer

I'm still far from what I would consider a great frontend developer. There's no good definition for this but I like to think of a great frontend developer as someone who can implement any UI design in pixel-perfect fashion. A developer who thinks about accessibility, usability, UX, and just executes on creating beautiful user interfaces. That's what I want to get to.

As such, this is one of my big goals for 2022. I plan to accomplish this by going through some great resources like Josh Comeau's CSS course and TypeScript in 50 lessons. After that, I'm just going to be building as much as possible. My own side projects, cloning popular apps, and contributing to OSS. I'm lucky to be in a place in my life right now where I don't have too much going on besides work and I want to work hard early in my career to set myself up for success in the future, so I'm dedicating 15 hours a week outside of work to do this.

2. Build better personal habits

I realized I don't have great habits and want to actively change that. A few habits I want to build are:

  • An early sleep schedule (10pm-6am). I find I'm most productive in the early mornings.
  • Getting in better shape. I gained 15 pounds over the pandemic so I want to lose that and gain some muscle by exercising regularly and eating healthy.
  • Becoming a better cook. I want to learn a few new dishes and get more comfortable in the kitchen.
  • Get my driver's license. I'm 23 and still don't have one, which is crazy in the US since most people get their licenses at 16 here.
  • Take care of my health. I want to make sure I go to the dentist and doctor regularly and get all the work I need taken care of.

3. Release content regularly

My last goal revolves around content. This goes back to learning in public; something I love to do but haven't done enough of this year. Through simply learning and taking notes, the idea is to have enough content to be able to write at least 2 blog posts and 2 videos a month. I want to focus on systems over goals, meaning I want to build a great system that enables me to release high quality content consistently as opposed to shooting for a specific number so this is just a baseline for now. I want to experiment with regular YouTube videos, 60 second videos on Twitter/Linkedin, and Tiktok. I want to do a bit of everything then double down on the platforms that do well.

Conclusion

And that's a wrap. For those of you that made it this far, thanks so much for reading. To follow along while I document my journey and learnings, follow me on Twitter. And if you have any questions or comments for me, my DMs are wide open!

I'm looking forward to an excellent 2022. Happy 2022 everyone!