2019 Recap

2019 was a year of comeback

I joined Facebook as a full time in 2016. I was fresh out of college and excited about the new challenge in front of me. CEA was my first team, and I started working on a project called Long Range Planning tool. The project started out as an intern project around June and I joined the team in October. At the time, the intern has already finished the internship and the intern mentor was working on the project. The deadline for the project was December 2016 since the tool was necessary to do LRP exercise in January 2017. As I started working on the project, it became clear to me that the design of the system had a flaw. Over Christmas, I wrote a document with the proposal of new design and made a prototype of the system, and I gave a presentation to my manager and my manager’s manager about the new system. Long story short, I built the tool with my new design and got promoted. At the time, my confidence, arrogance rather, skyrocketed. Facebook is a piece of cake, I thought.

Then, I started thinking about moving to Software Engineering team (I was Performance and Capacity Engineer at the time). I thought I could be great anywhere I go. I worried more about the process, passing the interview to transition to Software Engineer, than finding the right team. Fortunately, I passed the interview, and I joined a team called Video Infra Insights in July 2018. That was the beginning of dark age of my career. By the end of 2018, my confidence level plummeted, and I was not sure if I could survive in Software Industry. I considered switching out of the team, but I wanted to give it another try for a half. However, the situation did not get better. The direction that I thought the team should go and the direction that the team was going were completely opposite. I went through counseling, meditation, etc., but I could not cope with the situation. I completely crumbled. I had to switch out of the team.

With lots of discussions and help from my friends, I joined my current team, Instagram Ads Experience, in August 2019. I was nervous. I was not sure if my self-esteem could bear it if I could not adjust in this team again. Thankfully, with a lot of mentorship from my teammates and my friends, I was able to ramp up quickly and become a core member of the team. Most importantly, I feel like I am providing value to the team. I am very much grateful to my friends and teammates. I am super excited about 2020 and it’s all thanks to their support. 2019 had truly been a year of comeback for me.

Why I stayed at Facebook.

Before I go on to what I want to achieve in 2020, I want to touch upon why I decided to stay at Facebook over moving to different companies. Facebook is a company that pushes an engineer not only to do engineering work but also to take product manager-like role. For example, an engineer is expected to provide input to product direction and be responsible in convincing stakeholders and aligning other teams to work toward the same goal. Throughout my time at Facebook, I had a hard time coping with this. Until recently, my understanding of a good software engineer was narrow. Technical expertise was the only pillar that made a good software engineer, I used to think. This mindset irritated me whenever I had to do non-technical work like planning, talking with stakeholders, etc. Overtime, however, I started seeing the importance of those non-technical work in bringing value. There is an art in prioritizing, planning, and delegating to maximize the productivity of a team. Good engineer should be able to handle not only technical challenges but also non-technical challenges to maximize the impact. My weakest points are around these soft skills, and Facebook is a great place to learn the skills. So, I chose to stay at Facebook.

What I want to focus on in 2020.

Since I chose to stay at Facebook to hone my soft skills, I want to optimize my time in 2020 around them. I am not sure how to facilitate my learning other than just keep doing stuff that I am not comfortable with until I get comfortable doing them. One thing that I want to try, though, is to write excessively. I want to keep track of weekly plan, meeting notes, learning notes (wikis), and daily review. Hopefully, writing will help me do clarify intention for my time spent, and facilitate learning. I am super excited for 2020, and to see how it unfolds!

Written on January 25, 2020