Out of my depth

I feel out of my depth almost every day, and I love it.

Working in a company where you’re the most senior developer is only fun for so long. Eventually you’ll come up against a problem you’d like some guidance on, or you want someone to challenge your ideas.

At Datasift, I’d go so far as to say that everyone has more experience than me. They know the code, they know the problem domain. They know why things that I think are a mistake are actually the correct way to do things.

Every day I learn something new. It might be about ZeroMQ, it might be about long running processes in PHP. It might even be something new about Jira, our bug tracking software. No matter what though, I always learn something new.

So, embrace being the dumbest guy (or gal) in the room. Treat it as a chance to learn more. Treat it as an opportunity to take your understanding to a higher level. Feeling out of your depth isn’t a bad thing, it’s a necessity.

Michael is a polyglot software engineer, committed to reducing complexity in systems and making them more predictable. Working with a variety of languages and tools, he shares his technical expertise to audiences all around the world at user groups and conferences. You can follow @mheap on Twitter

Thoughts on this post

jamie 2013-05-18

yep, completely agree. Recently made a similar move myself and am loving it.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Adrian H 2013-05-21

I’d just started a new job (this is quite a few years ago) and I distinctly remember a sinking feeling; “they’re going to find out I don’t know anything”. That was perhaps my youthful self’s pessimism coming through, but not knowing the answer can be a good thing.

I try to instil this in other, perhaps less experienced, developers : You don’t have to know the answer from the very start. You just have to know you have the ability to get there.

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