26 December 2018

Reflections on 2018

Can’t believe it’s time to write another reflection. This year has been challenging for a myriad of reasons, both professional and personal, but I do think that it was a year of growth nonetheless. It’s easy to forget how many positive things happened in a year until you sit back and actually reflect on it, hence why I always write these blog posts over the holidays at the end of the year.

What happened?

This year, a few things happened to me, from launching my most successful side project, speaking at a highly respected conference, to other personal life things such as moving into a new apartment and going through a breakup. All of these forced me to grow in different ways.

Launched Seeker

Seeker started off as an idea after I worked on InterfaceLovers last year. The job board within InterfaceLovers is powered by Panda Jobs and after integrating it, I realized that jobs are a pretty unobtrusive but beneficial way for content creators and community organizers to monetize their content/community. It works out for all parties involved. The content creators and community organizers get compensated for the time they spend creating content or building the community. Companies get their job postings in front of a uniquely tailored audience of individuals. Lastly, the readers or members of a community get exposed to jobs that are relevant to them, rather than traditional ads that are enticing users to purchase something or sign up for a service.

Seeker is my most successful side project to date. When it launched on ProductHunt, it was the #3 product of the day. Since its launch in April, Seeker’s users have made $8,551 through their job boards and Seeker itself has made $3,148.03. This was in line with a goal of mine from last year’s reflection where I aimed to increase my passive income. I’m looking forward to working on Seeker more in 2019 and growing its user-base and feature-set where possible.

Moved into a new apartment with no roommates

Last year, I also had it as a goal to move into my own apartment. After living with roommates for the last two years, I figured it was time to get my own space and live by myself. Even though apartment hunting in New York City sucks, I happily found an apartment building that I really vibe with and feels like home. Since moving, I’ve noticed better improvements to my mood and also increases to my productivity. There’s something to be said about being able to have your own space without any distractions. Paying the extra money sucks but it’s worth the freedom and peace of mind you get from having your own space. In 2019, I look forward to adding more decorations to it and making it feel more like home.

Spoke at Strange Loop

I had the honor of speaking at Strange Loop this year, where I gave a talk on “Building a Canary Testing Framework”, based off the canary system I helped maintain while at DigitalOcean. Alex (the organizer) had reached out to me earlier in the year and invited me to submit a CFP. Needless to say, I was honored because Strange Loop is a conference that a lot of people that I respect and admire speak highly of, and it was quite nerve-wracking prepping a talk for it. In the end, it was an amazing conference filled with amazing people and talks and I hope to be able to attend again in the future. If you’re interested, you can check out my talk on YouTube and the slides on SpeakerDeck.

Started a new (remote) job at GitHub

In August, I started a new job as a Senior Software Engineer at GitHub, working on the new GitHub Actions product. To be honest, a lot of people I know work at GitHub and a few of them had encouraged me to apply in the past, but Actions was the first product at GitHub that I could really see myself working on. Since joining the Actions team, I’ve already been exposed to so much growth and development. And also, I haven’t been this excited to work on a product in awhile from a work setting. Whether it’s the complexity of the product itself, to the scaling issues we encounter with it, or just the tight deadlines we had to ship the beta version, it’s been a fun challenge since my first day and I’ve loved it. I’m looking forward to 2019 and the future of not only Actions, but GitHub as well. It’s been a great company to work for and I’m loving my productivity as a remote employee.

Traveled to Berlin (again) and Vienna

This is nothing major really, I had a work trip to Berlin in March where I got a new tattoo. I also decided to head to Vienna after Berlin, where I got to meet with some awesome internet people like Max Stoiber. I always like visiting Berlin, it’s a dope city and I still recommend that everybody visit if they get the chance. Vienna is also a beautiful city with a lot of history. It’s a bit quieter than Berlin, but it was fun nonetheless to experience and visit.

Got two new tattoos

While I was in Berlin, I got a really dope tattoo on my left arm by Agatha Schips at Pechschwarz Tattoo. The design was inspired by clothes traditionally worn by Igbo women in Nigeria. In New York City, I got another awesome piece on my right arm by visiting artist Anibal Franco at Bang Bang Tattoo. This piece is a tribute to my mother, Angela. I’m not sure if I’ll get new tattoos in 2019, it is tied to me liking an artist’s style and how accessible they are to me.

Paid off all of my student loans

In April, I paid off my student loans after calculating how much money I’d have after using my savings to pay them off. I realized that I’d have a decent chunk of savings left after paying them off, so I went ahead and paid off the remaining balance in full. This financial freedom has made it easier for me to save and also feels great being debt-free. I look forward to improving upon my personal finance knowledge and skills and growing not only my savings but also getting more into investing in the new year.

Went through a breakup

While 2018 had a lot of positive moments, it also had a few negative moments. One of those was going through a breakup. I don’t really talk much on romantic relationships in the context of this blog, but it was a major event of the year that I’ve had to reflect on throughout the 2nd half of the year. Without going into too much detail, my (now ex) girlfriend of almost 3 years and I broke up back in June. The feeling of getting dumped and the aftermath of breakups really sucked, but I think I’ve grown stronger since the breakup and honestly was able to re-focus attention on myself. It wasn’t the end of the world and life goes on, time helps to heal all wounds eventually. Staying optimistic helped me out a lot and nonetheless, I’m looking forward to what the future holds regardless.

What did I learn?

Tech interviews are demoralizing and not fun, but don’t give up

I got rejected over 15 times by a variety of tech companies during this last interviewing cycle. It was really demoralizing to always do well during the practical elements of the interview cycle (such as writing code or doing take-home assignments), but then getting rejected in the final round. But, the key is to not get too down, or rather not let the rejections be a reflection of self-worth. You are not dumb if you get rejected for a job position. Rather, view it as not being a good fit for the position or not being prepared for the interview. The most important thing is to realize what your weaknesses were in the interview (if any) and see if you can improve upon them afterwards. And if you felt like you did really well in an interview and get rejected (this happened to me in some cases), then it probably wasn’t a great fit for you anyways.

There can always be growth from rejection and failure

Whether it’s getting rejected after a job interview or getting broken up with, I think that nothing good from just moping around after it happens. In every situation, you can try and learn from it through reflecting on what went well, what did not go so well, and what you could do differently the next time when possible. Through getting rejected from job interviews and going through a breakup, I was able to figure out more about myself upon further reflection and how to improve myself and what my values are for the future.

Stop procrastinating / perfecting, launch and iterate on your project

I procrastinated on launching Seeker for the longest because I was scared it wasn’t “perfect” enough to launch. But it was good enough to launch and start providing value to users, so I just made the marketing page and launched it on a whim. The reception was overwhelming and I was able to fix bugs that other users found after launching and gain great feedback from users that I wouldn’t have gained by perfecting Seeker. So stop trying to perfect your product, once you get it in “good enough” shape to provide value, launch and then keep on adding new features. You’ll get great feedback to help you build new features and also be able to delight your users with more features as you build the product.

Goals for 2019

Improve and grow Seeker

As it exists now, Seeker is a good product, but it could be improved upon in multiple ways. I want to add new features to it and improve on its design in the new year, while also doing more of the sales process to grow its user base and revenue. I’m new to this whole sales process, so it’ll be a learning experience for me.

Launch a new product (or two)

I can’t say much, but I will say that I’m working with a really talented individual on something new. It’s been great having a designer/developer hybrid to work with and I’m looking forward to launching a new product with him in the new year.

Lose 20 pounds

I always say that I want to get in shape every year but I think that’s too broad of a goal to actually act on. So, rather than having an abstract goal of “get in shape”, I want to lose at least 20 pounds in the new year. That’s all I’m going to say on that.

Continue to grow and develop myself and interests

Something I gained a newfound appreciation for in the new year is getting back in touch with interests and hobbies that I forgot I enjoyed. I also just realized that there are a lot of things that I had forgotten about myself or lost sight of. I look forward to regaining focus on myself and improving on myself and hobbies in the new year.

See you next year!

Thanks for reading and I hope you all had a wonderful 2018. I also hope that the new year will be great and that you all grow, improve, or do whatever you want to do in the new year as well. If you want to talk to me about anything, such as interviewing, I’m just a Twitter DM away. Happy New Year!

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