2021 in review and plans for 2022

This article is treated as part of my diary, where I’m trying to reflect on this year as it’s coming to an end and make public statements on plans for the next year – so it motivates me more to accomplish them.

Reflection on 2021

I dropped my Facebook job and started working for Buffer

After nearly three years of being a DataOps Engineer at Facebook, I decided it was time for me to make a change.

When the year started, I didn’t anticipate that move, but there were a couple of events that led me to make this decision. First, I was expecting to be promoted, although it didn’t happen due to several different reasons unrelated to my performance. My performance always exceeded expectations, and I was already tired of waiting for something that should happen much earlier.

That’s precisely when the seed was placed in my thoughts. I started looking across different job boards and offers to learn again how the current market looks like; things change a lot in three years.

Once, I found an exciting job posting from HelpScout. I didn’t apply anywhere until I learned a bit about the company, so I started browsing through their blog and reading every possible article about their culture, processes, and everything they shared transparently.

In one of their articles about how they handle employee compensation, they shared that they’ve got transparent salaries of every employee, internal for the company. There was also this part:

“A handful of companies take the transparency a level further and share what each specific team member makes

And that’s precisely how I met Buffer, my future employer. I was amazed by their transparency, being remote-first, and every other thing I’ve read on their blog. I’ve read every article there, saw the opening for the engineering position, and decided to apply.

I went through the interview process and got a “Strong Hire,” and it all happened when I was working remotely from Tenerife for a month. I had the tough choice to make, especially that once my managers heard about my offer, they promised me a promotion and a raise.

I loved working with folks from my team at Facebook, but there was also another reason I decided to take the job offer from Buffer.

I sold my apartment and started traveling the world

While working for Facebook, I bought an apartment in Warsaw and settled there. However, in the back of my head, I always wanted to travel the world.

Choosing Buffer as my employer allowed me to pursue my dream. It’s a remote-first company, and people are working for Buffer from all over the world.

My girlfriend quit her marketing job at the agency and started freelancing, as we were preparing to leave Poland.

I sold my apartment, moved all our stuff to the magazine, and started living with one bag, no home.

I have to admit it’s a very interesting experience and I really like how I managed to compress all of my necessary belongings to my Patagonia 40L Black Hole duffel bag. It’s just so much easier to travel when all you’ve got is a carry-on, instead of heavy baggage.

This year we’ve already been to Tenerife, Paris, continental Portugal and Madeira and we’ve already got our tickets to Spain and Dominican Republic.

I got promoted within my first 6 months

When I got my offer letter from Buffer, it aligned with my expectations if it comes to salary, but not the level I wanted to be hired at.

I decided to accept the offer anyway, and show the best of me during the first few months to reassess me to the next level.

After many discussions with my peers, manager and upper management, I made my case and managed to get promoted after 6 months of work, so I am Senior Software Engineer at Buffer right now.

I opened my eyes and started using the life

Not everything that happened this year was great. I lost my grandfather this year because of Covid, event I’m still coping with up to this day. I value my family above everything else and it made me realize how fragile life is, and it led me to rethink how I treat my relationships and care about them.

This year, I probably had more doctor appointments than all of my earlier life combined. I learned that I’ve got Lyme disease, psoriasis, and worst of it all – psoriatic arthritis, that destroys my joints and makes me unable to do many things I loved.

It made me sure that I was doing the right thing when I started to travel, when I’m still young and can enjoy it as much as it’s possible. I also read a book Die with Zero, which made me completely change my approach to spending money, and I can highly recommend it to anyone as well. A life-changer!

What’s to come in 2022

It’s the first time I make my resolutions in public, hoping it’ll motivate me more to keep up to them. Even more: I will document them here, so it serves as a documentation for the new year.

Read at least one technical book per quarter, carefully

I always had a problem reading technical books, and I finished only a handful of them. When you read books like these, you have to be ultra-focused to understand them and get something out of the read.

My problem is the lack of this focus, that I don’t really make any conclusions based on what I read.

So the first resolution is to read one book per quarter, in an intelligent way. I’ll make notes from every book I read and share them here.

For now the list looks like that:

  • Software Engineering at Google
  • Designing Distributed Systems
  • Designing Data-Intensive Applications
  • A Philosophy of Software Design

Get AWS certified – AWS Solutions Architect Associate

We use AWS at Buffer, so it’s an additional motivation to finally learn some serious cloud. I’m familiar with all of the concepts from my Facebook time, since we had our internal cloud infra, but I don’t know AWS specifics at all.

I like learning especially when I have some goal in mind. AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification is definitely a good one, and it will look good in my resume.

I’m using Cloud Academy: AWS Solutions Architect – Associate as a learning material for the exam.

My deadline for this one is the end of January and I plan to learn daily.

Get Kubernetes certified – Kubernetes Developer Certification

Quite similar to AWS, we use Kubernetes as well. The plan is to use Cloud Academy here as well, using Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Exam Preparation course.

Deadline is the end of February.

Learn Spanish and get A2 or B1 certified in July

We’re visiting Dominicana in January and staying there to mid-March, so it’s a good opportunity to learn some Spanish. The other thing is – I always wanted to learn this language, and there’s no better opportunity than to just start and use it daily!

In the past, I’ve read an amazing book by Scott H. Young: Ultralearning: Accelerate Your Career, Master Hard Skills and Outsmart the Competition, and I want to try the methods I learned from it. In short, once we land in Dominicana, we start speaking Spanish and only Spanish, however hard it is.

My supplementary resources will be:

  • Fluencia – to learn some words and grammar (at least 20 minutes daily)
  • SpanishVIP – private classes with teachers from Latin America, 4-6 times a week
  • News in Slow Spanish – to listen to Spanish even more (one article daily)

Solve 2 Leetcode challenges weekly

I like to be warmed up and keep my brain working with algorithms, so it’s a good place to make a resolution like this one! Especially that I envision myself coming back to Big Tech in the future (although definitely not in the near future).

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