My Clearleft journey

Just over two years ago, I joined Clearleft as a Junior Developer. During this time, I've been lucky enough to meet and work with some of the most talented people in the industry, who have helped me learn more than I imagined possible. I'm particularly grateful to Jeremy for his mentoring, coaching and encouragement.

Last week I left Clearleft to begin a new chapter in Australia. And while I've been waiting for the new chapter to come together, I've been feeling a little sad. Sad to leave behind an excellent job that challenged and developed me. I enjoyed working with the people at Clearleft even more. I also loved being part of the Brighton web community.

But I shouldn't be sad because I left with some fantastic memories and achievements. It's been the best start to my career that I could've hoped for.

Writing

Straight away, Jeremy told me to start writing. Like others, I worried about posting content that wasn't new or that people already knew. It fast became one of the most useful resources I have because I often look at back at what I've learnt.

Finding codebar

Codebar Brighton has become a huge part of my life and one of the hardest things to say goodbye to. My original motivation for attending was to meet people, eat pizza and learn. Then I started tutoring HTML and CSS. A scary thought, but so rewarding. I loved discovering that no matter how much learning I still had to do, I could help others. I learnt as much from tutoring as I did being a student. That excited me. It later formed the topic of a talk I gave at Dot York conference.

My first attempt at public speaking

In my first year at Clearleft I was invited to speak at Talk Web Design conference, a one day event for students. It was scary, challenging and it took me out of my comfort zone. For this reason I almost didn't do it, but I'm so pleased I did! I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it.

Writing for A List Apart

In November 2015, I wrote an article for A List Apart about a technique I starting using when building pattern libraries. Working with an editor was amazing.

Speaking at Bytes

My next turn at public speaking was at Bytes, a mini conference in Brighton. I supported Mike, Rosa and John in their talks too. I handled my nerves better and I got over my fear of getting something wrong. I got comfortable with the possibility of looking like an idiot.

Becoming a codebar organiser

At the beginning of last year, I was lucky enough to be invited into the codebar organiser team. It has became a huge part of my life. I've met some wonderful and inspiring people who I've learnt with and grown with. 

I've learnt that organising events requires a lot of work. It includes finding venues, sponsors, coaches, interesting opportunities and providing advice. I wasn't prepared for how much work would go into it, but I'm passionate about improving diversity in our industry, so it was easy to make it work. I felt really proud when some of our students secured jobs as developers last year.

Speaking at UpFront

At UpFront 2016 conference in Manchester I gave my first talk where people had paid to get in. No pressure! I had developed my talk at Bytes into a 30 minute talk. Again, I loved it. I remember how lovely and supportive the speakers and organisers were.

Speaking at Dot York

Dot York conference was different to the other conferences I spoke at. I spoke for 20 minutes about my experiences of learning, then I formed part of a panel for a Q&A session. Jeremy also spoke at the conference and we were in the same Q&A session. I gave an honest and personal account of the realities of being a junior developer. I stepped out of my comfort zone, big time. I think it reassured other juniors, but also made more senior people remember to offer support. I also met Harry, who has been a great help and support to my career ever since.

Delivering my first workshop

68 Middle Street's auditorium enabled me to take advantage of some great opportunities. It gave me a space to rehearse talks and it enabled me to provide a space for codebar. I was able to deliver my first full day workshop there, where I helped codebar students build their own portfolio websites, to help them work towards securing jobs in the industry.

Speaking at Front End North

At Front End North, I gave my first talk which focussed on code. Writing this talk enabled me to share my passion for CSS and talk to others about it. This was also when I finally started to feel less nervous about being on stage. I actually enjoyed being up there.

Speaking at Beyond Tellerrand

The highlight of my year and career so far was speaking at Beyond Tellerrand. When Harry and Jeremy suggested me speaking I had no idea how big it was. The standard of talks were incredible. On the upside, I didn't realise this until the first day of the conference, so I didn't get nervous until then. Marc was the most wonderful, kind and generous host and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak at his conference.

End of chapter one

So that's it. That's chapter one of my career as a developer. What a journey. If the next one is filled with just half as many opportunities, wonderful people and fun times, I'll be extremely lucky.