New Beginnings & Women in Technology

This week, I started a new job. Leading up to the beginning of this new endeavor, I was completely terrified.

The months following being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder took me from being overworked, extremely stressed, and fighting suicidal thoughts to being even more stressed, trying to manage things completely on my own, and being stigmatized by people I trusted. I ended up going through a fairly traumatic exit from the company while still trying to find the right treatment for my anxiety. I was also diagnosed with severe Social Anxiety Disorder right around the time all this was happening.

Still trying to work through managing my anxiety, I knew I needed more of a routine to help keep me out of the grips of my depression, so I began working on updating my resume and portfolio.

The difficulty with searching for a job as a web developer is that 90% of the jobs in Canada that I’m even remotely interested in and qualified for are in Toronto or the GTA. I have absolutely no desire to live in downtown TO or have to commute. Luckily, I came across a job posting for a front end developer at a company 20 minutes away.

Since front end website development is where I specialize, I had to dig a little deeper. I was intrigued by the products they built and the projects they have done, so I applied. Within a couple days I was asked for an interview, and the following week, a second meeting.

My social anxiety was out of control and the fear of a reoccurance of what happened with my last job made the whole process extremely difficult for me.

After being offered the job, I had to wait a little over a week before I actually started. All that time, I spent ruminating about all the things that could go wrong. I even had moments where I felt so badly that I wouldn’t be able to get through the whole ordeal that I found myself thinking about ways to get out of it (including suicide). I have these kind of thoughts quite frequently, but what’s ironic is that my anxiety actually keeps me from following through with any of them.

And then this week came around. Tuesday was my first day. I knew beforehand that one other would be starting the same day, so that made me feel a little better, but I was still terrified.

The entire day, I was on the verge of panic. My heart was pounding. By the time I left for the day, I was exhausted!

My second day, I was far less anxious. Having been in the office and gotten used to the work environment and the people around me, I was much more comfortable. I actually even had a conversation with a few of the other devs. I was still nervous, but who isn’t during their first week in a new job?

Thursday went about the same.

Today, I actually felt productive. I was a contributing member of the team!

I have never been more excited about the future of my career. I am working with technologies that I’ve been wanting to work with for a long time, but never did because any of the technologies I’d suggested trying out at my previous job were shut down and rejected for invalid reasons, so eventually I gave up and just tried to do my job the best I could with the tools I already had.

The thing that I am most excited about is the fact that I there are people who know more than me! Sounds like a weird thing to be excited about, I know, but the one thing I really didn’t have at my last job was someone to bounce ideas off of or to get advice on how to execute tasks I didn’t have much experience with. For four years, I had to rely on Google to help me struggle through things that were beyond my knowledge because my boss was too busy or in some cases was actually less experienced than me (there were a small number of topics where he would call me for help). Now, here I am, working for a company who is working with current, standard technologies of the web development industry, and had a team of several experienced developers.

I haven’t been excited about my career since I graduated from college in 2011, so I can’t wait to grow with the company!

On a lighter note, I realized something kind of funny today.

I knew from looking at the company’s website before my interview, as well as from meeting the team at the office after my second interview that the team is made up, mostly, of guys. I mean, I do work in a predominantly male dominated industry, so it shouldn’t be that surprising, but at my last job, the team was mostly women.

It didn’t hit me, though, until the end of the day today, after the director of business (a guy) left, followed by the bookkeeper (lady), and the designer and project manager (both ladies), and I looked around the room and suddenly it occurred to me. There were 8 people left in the office. Just the devs, hacking away on our keyboards. 7 of the 8 devs on the team are guys, and the 8th is me. I was sitting in a room, coding, with 7 guys! Seven men to one woman. It felt super weird, yet somewhat empowering.

We need more women in technology!

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