Dreaming in code

So after I had returned back to the main office in CT, crunch time was on. We had gotten all the information we could get from them and now the actual development work needed to be done. I was busy from the second I walked in the office until the second I left and it was amazing. Every day I was learning something new, figuring out clever ways to efficiently query the data warehouse, and trying to understand this complex world of deducibles and special billing to end-stage renal disease. Who would have thunk kidney disease gets billed differently?

Eventually, this project got pretty monotonous and repetitive. Luckily for me, a new project was brewing for me at Connecticare, in Farmington, on-site. I was on a team with my last projects’ manager, Tracy and a business analyst. We were tasked with creating an application that the insurance company would be using internally to audit claims. The requirements were very prescriptive. I had to use WCF. I never used WCF. I had to use Asp.Net Web Forms. I made 2, maybe 3 basic website with Asp.Net at the time. I had to use their enterprise level bit masking security scheme. What the hell is bit masking?!

During this first 2 to 3 weeks of the projects inception, I spent a whole lot of time taking courses on Pluralsight and reviewing sample programs that use their prescribed enterprise architecture. The architecture of the windows services was so overy complex. Death by architecture.

At the time I was experiencing serious symptoms of imposter syndrome and was dreading figuring this crazy architecture, but now I understand what the enterprise architect that was enforcing these standards, was actually trying to accomplish. Reusability, autonomy, and a standardized service inventory. I soon got the hang of it and was on my way to creating what was in essence, my own project that was going to be heavily used. Yes there was a PM and a BA who assisted in requirements and documentation, but the product itself, was mine. Under these supposition, I wanted to put my all into this application. I wanted to work harder on this than any other school or work project. This was my legacy at this company and I didn’t want that to be a half assed job.

To accomplish this, I was working 70 hour weeks. After about a month of that, I came to the realization that continuing to put in that many hours would damage both my physical and mental health. I started dreaming in code. It was terrifying at first but then the answers I was looking for would start coming to me, which of course was to be desired. Physically, I started gaining weight and just generally feeling lethargic and losing energy. I started cutting back my hours to around 40-45 a week and those issues started to dissipate.

My application was pretty well liked as far as I know and I was content with the job I had done. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it was exactly to spec on the approved mock ups. I then had to hand off my creation. My baby. What I had worked so hard to create. I spent about a week meeting with one of the Connecticare employees who would then be responsible for maintaining my application. To be honest, he seemed just as offput as I when reviewing the architecture that was mandated. But I did my best to cover everything about the application that I could.

When that project was over, I was moved to work on a project for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. This was a DB2 conversation project and I was intrigued because I had never used DB2. About 2 weeks into the project and I started dreading coming to work altogether. Not necessarily because of the work, but I was doing another project solo. I wanted to work on a team. To feel valued. So I started interviewing at different companies. I found one in particular that would cut my commute in half and about 50% more in salary. I figured, why not?

I leave you with this final note: Never stop interviewing. The market is constantly changing, new interviewing techniques come out, new technologies, etc. You need to stay current. You need to stay relevant. If you’re not getting harassed almost daily by recruiters on LinkedIn or phone calls, you aren’t putting enough effort into your career.

“There is no illness that is not exacerbated by stress.” ― Allan Lokos

Lessons Learned:

  • Pluralsight is an amazing resource for both technical and non-technical folks.
  • Sometimes you need to pull a lot of hours but be aware of how your body responds to that much stress. Long days like that aren’t sustainable.
  • Don’t be afraid to interview at other companies. This is to be expected if you are a valuable employee.
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