The 180 degrees shift
On February I decided that it was time for me to move on from developing a scientific software for MS Windows using Fortran to the more current sotware applications developed for the web. Two months later I was starting at Lunatech, in Rotterdam. Why such a move?
I was working for Plaxis for seven years and I knew all I wanted to know about the product, the company and the market. The big project I was responsible of was in good shape, released for more than two years already, with users adopting it more and more. My planning for that year was small features and growing our user base. So I knew I wouldn’t leave my colleagues high and dry. I like Fortran for what it’s good at, namely solving equations efficiently, but I wasn’t challenged technically any more; there was nothing on sight to make me grow. Had I been in a different situtation personally, I might have taken another decision. But without children and mortgage, it was the right moment to make the leap.
So I applied at Lunatech, to the junior Scala developer position. Despite seven years of commercial software experience, I wasn’t considering myself as a senior in this language, nor in this type of industry. I wrote the code assessment in Scala, which I started learning two weeks before. Having some notions in Haskell and knowing the MVC model were enough to be able to produce an application that was working well enough, with clean-enough code. Lunatech gave me a chance that I seized, and in mid-April I was starting in Rotterdam. After some weeks of training and evaluation, I was sent to a client, where I still am, and where I want to stay for quite some time, because despite being a lot of work in everchanging conditions, I really like that project. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know how much I am into Lunatech, where I have a whole new career waiting for me to build.
To get back to the original question, why such a move. Clearly, I was in a dead end. I was too specialised in an already specialised market. This was just a time bomb. So instead of trying to prevent a situtation that would arrive anyway at some point, I decided to go on the offensive and look for something else, more general, where I would have more breadth to rebound and grow. At that time I was looking at other jobs in Europe, where I could do functional programming, being Clojure, Haskell or why not Scala. I was afraid of doing enterprise software with no other purpose than making rich people richer, but it was one of the concessions I had to make. I also knew that it would be a lot of work for at least two years, to catch up with the technology, the methodologies, the habits, the market, the current hypes, and the general software engineering education I never took. And that’s precisely the biggest reason why I made that leap. For the coming two years at least, I would have to work hard during the day and my spare time to be first up to speed, then to become an asset in my company and at the clients.
And believe me, it’s worth it, it was the right decision to make. I often feel overwhelmed with all the new things that pop in all the time, all the tech/education debt I have to improve on, the imposter syndrome I constantly fight against. And that’s good: I’m learning, I’m moving forward. I have to deliver. For me, for Lunatech, for our clients. And that’s what gets me out of bed every single morning.