Taking Control Over Your Career

Kent calls out the myth that if you are a rockstar dev that you'll be wildly successful. If you want to control your career, you need to communicate and be effective at marketing yourself.

One of the biggest myths is that being a 10x Developer is all you need to have a successful career. You can't just be good at coding, put in insane hours to achieve senior status, and be set for life.

If you want to control your career, you have to realize that programming is not just about typing keywords on a keyboard. Programming is much more about communication and being effective at marketing yourself.

Pay attention and listen to those who have a position that you want to have one day, even if their discussions aren't relevant to your current work. You will learn about the problems they face in their day-to-day work and how they work together to solve them.

You also have to put yourself out there and volunteer for work that you're interested in. If you're on the backend but are interested in a front-end task, you should ask, "Can I work on that one?" Nobody knows what you're interested in until you tell them.

But there's a point where you'll want to do things with your career, but your current job can't do it for you. At that point, you have to move on to somewhere that can. When you move-on, the most important thing is going to be to make sure that your company can provide you what you want from your career.

The relationships that you build along the way are critical as well. Genuinely praising your co-workers and also sharing your accomplishments pays big dividends.

Transcript

Michael Chan:
Hey, Kent.

Kent C. Dodds:
Hey, Michael.

Michael Chan:
I am excited to talk with you about how to develop a career. So we've gone through all this training, we've taken all of your courses, right? We just finished Epic React. It's amazing. There was a big question mark. How do we actually transition that to developing an awesome career? And how do we, look, what are the things that we need to know to build a career? Because it doesn't just happen automatically. You could be a really good developer and not ever move your career needle forward. So that's what we're talking about. And I'm so thrilled to get your perspective on all of this. What is one of the biggest myths, I guess, about developing a career like people get into the job market, they're super excited, and then all of a sudden, it's like, okay things aren't happening automatically. What are some myths that people believe about starting a career and starting that career journey?

Kent C. Dodds:
That is such a good question. I think probably the biggest myth that I have believed and have observed others believe is that being a superstar developer is how you do it or that that's all you need. And you can just make it to the top or I don't know. Yeah, that's probably the biggest thing. It's just like, if I'm so good at what I do, and I put in infinity hours that I will be, I'll get to senior status. And then it's all sunshine and rainbows up there. And then maybe that's another myth is that it is sunshine and rainbows once you get to some status or some point. Yeah, I would say those are probably the biggest myths that I've seen there.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, because we see so much material and I don't know who this comes from. But we see so much material on the 10x developer, and how everyone's on the hunt for this mythical beast, the 10x developer, and if you could manage to be one of those, well then, your life is set for the rest of your career. But that doesn't necessarily seem to be true. It seems like there's a lot of skills that are important, which is understanding product, soft skills of how you interact with your coworkers and whatnot. What are some of the things that you've seen that are maybe more important than code? As you develop your career, you've had periods where you didn't know a lot about a certain thing, how did you thrive in those environments as you were learning?

Kent C. Dodds:
Well, there are a couple of things here. So my own personal story, I spent just so much time listening to my seniors, like I would, for all the things that I hate about open office plans, one thing that was awesome as a new developer was being able to overhear the conversations that they would have with each other. That was awesome. Or even in meetings when they're talking about architectural problems or something, not hopping on my phone on Twitter because this isn't going to actually have any relevance to my work. You're listening, right? Because if you do hop on your phone on Twitter during those meetings, then you're right. It will have nothing to do with your work because you're going to keep on doing the same thing that you're always doing. So yeah, being engaged in what's going on at your company at levels higher than your own, I think is one thing that really helped me accelerate, and then more than just getting exposure to different ideas and experiences, which should hopefully get you a certain level of experience. I think that putting yourself in the way of those challenges so that you are the one who's going to be dealing with those problems, solving those problems.

Kent C. Dodds:
So that was actually one of the reasons why I left my first job at Domo because I transitioned from a part time intern into a full time developer, and I may have transitioned in that way in the number of hours that I worked and my title, but I didn't really transition in that way in the way that people saw me, and not to discredit them. They're awesome. And that was part of the problem is that I was working with some of the smartest engineers in the area. And so if there was a problem that was a difficult, challenging problem to be solved, then they would get that problem to solve and I'd go get the checkbox or something.

Kent C. Dodds:
So that was one of the reasons why I left that company was because well, I need to go somewhere where I'm seen as one of the senior people or maybe not necessarily senior, but more senior than they see me so that I have more difficult challenges to face. And so this is why I say one of the things that you need to do to get experience as an engineer is to have experiences. It sounds stupid, but that's what it is. And so you have to make those experiences for yourself because people aren't going to just give those to you. They want the problem solved. Unless they're really intentionally thinking about it, they're just going to solve all the hard problems because they're more experienced than you are. And they'll give you the dregs because that's what you can deal with in their mind. There are obviously great mentors who are always trying to challenge you and stuff. But in my experience, I've had to chase that myself. And that has worked out really well for me. I've got a couple other things to say. But I have a feeling you've got some thoughts on this as well.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, yeah, I mean there's so much on this topic to cover. But as I was listening to you, I heard four kind of main themes, and I want to try to dive into each of those. So one was just listening. So always keeping your brain alert, tight, focused, and trying to pull out things, identify those things that are maybe above your pay grade as things that you need to learn to progress at that company. Second was, I love the way you put this, putting yourself in the way so that you actually get that work. And I really want to dive into that. Third is this concept of having to move out to move up. And finally, having experiences. So first I want to talk about listening because I feel like this is the core skill in so many parts of your career development, especially when you're later in your career, listening is even more critical. In this time that we're in, where so many jobs are remote or going remote, how do you get those experiences? Or how do you think people could get those experiences because they're harder, they don't happen at the desk next to you while nobody realizes that you're listening. What are ways that you chase that in these modern work environments?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, that is a great question. When I was working at Domo in that open office setting, they would just start talking about git merging strategy or different things like that, and it was easy for me to jump in and just listen and then maybe ask a question if I felt comfortable doing that. Luckily now, despite the lack of our ability to do that in many instances, we now have a lot of online communities that we can go and experience similar types of things like lots of really awesome and intelligent engineers are hanging out on communities like Discord. I've got some really awesome people in my Discord. And then there's like Reactiflux and different places where you can have those experiences.

Kent C. Dodds:
Another thing that I did when I went to Alianza, this small company, I was the only front end engineer and I started to miss those kinds of experiences. By the time I got to the Alianza, I'd been graduated from college for four months. It was not long, well a couple, maybe six months, but yeah, I was a senior engineer by then apparently, and I couldn't have those kinds of conversations anymore. So that was one of the reasons I started the podcast was so that I could have those conversations with smart people. And so it's one thing to say, "Hey, Brendan, can I chat with you about JavaScript?" And he's like, "Literally everybody in the world wants to talk to me about JavaScript." And I say, "Well, what if, when you talk to me, you're actually talking to tens of thousands of other people?" He's like, "Oh, okay. Yeah, I'm into that." Giving people a recent to give you some of their time is also, that was another mechanism that I use to talk to people who are smarter than me, or had more experience than I did so they could expose me to some of their knowledge.

Michael Chan:
I love that. I like the idea. I know sometimes communities can be very overwhelming for certain people. I'm one of those people. It takes a lot of emotional energy to get onto Stack Overflow and ask a question or dive into a community and ask a question. It feels so incredibly awkward, but I think being in those communities, until you feel comfortable, you can be like a little bit of a lurker. Like you're just seeing this feed of knowledge go by, and then just express your gratitude when something actually hits. You see that tip and it's like, "Oh my gosh, that changed my workflow. Thanks.", because who doesn't want to feel that rush of knowing that they gave you that hot tip that changed your life?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And gratitude, I actually have a blog post about this. But gratitude is so important in finding happiness for yourself and in helping others find satisfaction in the work that they're doing and motivating others to continue doing what they're doing. So yeah, super plus one to that.

Michael Chan:
Going back to Google Plus days. Now, I want to talk about one of the second points that I heard from you, which is putting yourself in the way and I find this is really fascinating and something that people miss a lot in their career development, like being aggressive about getting things and I'm not exactly sure why that would be. I feel like I'm probably on a similar plane as you as kind of being aggressive about going after the jobs that I want to actually have. But what are some, I guess, what's the challenge you identify here for a lot of people when they see things that they want, but don't quite know how to go after them?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, that's a great question. And I will be totally honest and say I can't relate super great to people who struggle with that kind of thing. I'm a pretty outgoing person. I know what I want. I'm going to go get it. That's not as big of a challenge for me. So I apologize for that lack of perspective that I have.

Michael Chan:
Well, we can also change it a little bit. As someone who is free about being able to go after those, what are some techniques that you have found that worked for people who feel less comfortable in that?

Kent C. Dodds:
Well some things that I have done that work, it doesn't have to feel aggressive when you're doing it and people want to interpret it as aggression unless they're total jerks, but some things that I've done is you're sitting in your sprint planning, and you've listed out all the things, all the tasks that you're going to do for that sprint, or however you do it, you're doing Kanban or whatever it is, volunteer for the stuff that you want to learn. And and when they say, "Oh, you know what? I was going to have Joe do that because she's got this experience there." Say, "Is it all right if I just like shadow Joe for that or something? Is that cool if we do that, because I want to develop this particular skill?"

Kent C. Dodds:
And any boss who is worth their weight is going to say, "Yes, absolutely. We love that knowledge sharing and everything totally. Just make sure you get your other things done, or whatever." So that's the kind of thing that I did. When I was at PayPal, we had an element of back end, an element of front end, and I would do the back end stuff plenty, but I was way more interested in the front end stuff. And so I would always just volunteer myself to say, "Can I work on that one?", and it wasn't always like, "I want to improve my React skills so I want to work on this." It was just like, "Can I work on that one?" And I often didn't have to justify the reasons I wanted to. They say, "Yeah, sure."

Kent C. Dodds:
It was never really a big thing. Or if you know that some of the architects are going to have a meeting about some sort of thing, invite yourself. Just ask them. Just show up, but say, "Hey, can I just sit as a fly on the wall?" You're not one of my three year olds who can't keep their mouth shut in a meeting. You can go and sit as a fly on the wall. You won't disturb them or anything. Maybe they're talking about something that's sensitive, or maybe they're jerks, and they won't let you come. But that is the type of thing that I did and made sure that I exposed myself to things that I was interested in.

Kent C. Dodds:
Now, there are other things that I didn't expose myself to intentionally like when I was at PayPal, there were things that I was like, "I don't actually really care about how PayPal does X, like the weird deployment thing." I hated that so much, and I didn't want to know anything about it. I was like, "I'll let somebody else do that." And there are people who are totally excited by that. And that's awesome. I'm glad they exist so I don't have to do it. But yeah, so being then kind of thoughtful about okay, what are the things that I want to develop my experience in, I'm going to go attack that now and put myself in the way to get that experience.

Michael Chan:
It's hard to do that and put yourself out there, but it's so critical. And I saw a tweet by Laurie on Tech, our mutual friend today. She said, "Nobody knows what you're interested in until you tell them." And I think this is so important for career development, is that you got to say, "Well, I'm interested in this thing. I want to do that thing. I want to be the person who does that thing." And maybe it's a no today, but maybe it's a yes tomorrow because they have you in mind now, like so and so likes to do the React stuff. That's cool. When we need extra hands on that, we'll tap them.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, and review their PRs. You don't have to be asked to review it. You don't even have to check it if you're worried that they're seeing you review those things. But follow along with those conversations that they're having. That's free.

Michael Chan:
Man, reviewing PR, that is such a hot tip. People have such a hard time getting PR reviews, just review the PR is stuff that you want to do.

Kent C. Dodds:
For real, for real, they will love you for it.

Michael Chan:
Totally. Who doesn't want that person on their team from then on out? Those engineers are going to start asking for you because it's like, "Oh well, they reviewed my PR and it was quick and painless. And they had good insights, thumbs up all the time."

Kent C. Dodds:
Absolutely.

Michael Chan:
I love that. I think another thing that you mentioned is that you moved around a lot in your early career. And part of that is because you weren't able to really do the things that you wanted to do. And I think that that's another thing that's really important is that you might not be able to find the opportunities that you want once you find yourself in a company. And that kind of goes to your third point of maybe moving out to move up. I know that this is like, there's concerns on both sides. You don't want to be seen as like a company hopper. But then also, sometimes you can be overly loyal to a company. You can be in a very bad environment for too long and really stifle your own career growth. In the times that you've moved, how have you thought about those moves in terms specifically of your career growth and what you wanted to learn?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, I can be very specific, because there were really specific things that motivated each of these moves. So moving from Domo to AtTask, which is now Workfront, it was okay, everybody still kind of sees me as the intern. I'm not getting exposed to the things that I want to. They're all just so smart, and I'm getting exposed to their conversations, but not the problems. I'm not able to solve these problems myself. And maybe I could have been more aggressive on things. And this wasn't the only reason that I decided to switch. I got an enormous pay raise when I switched, so I'd be lying. In fact, I wouldn't have even been interested if I didn't realize how much more I could get paid by moving.

Kent C. Dodds:
So it wasn't the only thing. But that was one big motivating factor. So I went from one company where I transitioned from intern to full time to another company where I came in as this guy who is super knowledgeable about React or about AngularJS. That's why they hired me because I was the one who was always speaking at the meetups, which was actually at this company. And so everybody was like, "Oh man, Kent is here.", which is weird, because I just barely graduated two years ago or two months before that. So I was able to do 20% time on architecture, and I wasn't an architect, but they gave me those things.

Kent C. Dodds:
Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly what I had hoped it to be. And so I was only there for two months. And it gave me some cool exposure and I was able to do some cool things while I was there, but this next opportunity at Alianza, they gave me the opportunity to be the guy, the only one who did everything. And that was like, I can't refuse this. I'm early in my career, I feel like I've got a good enough footing that I know what would be really bad ideas, and so I can hopefully avoid some of those. So that was a strategic move for me as well. And yes, a pay raise. And actually, it also had to do with the tech stack, because at AtTask I was doing, lots of it was Java rendered, server rendered stuff, and I was like, "Keep me away from that stuff. I don't want to do that."

Kent C. Dodds:
It was a bit of a step back from Domo. So I was like, "I'm not super happy with that situation. I just want to do client side stuff." And that was the other thing here is we have a team of back end engineers. Our API is part of the product so it's really nice. Come here and just consumer API. And I was like, "I'm in. Let me just make some buckets on AWS to drop my JavaScript and away I go." So it was like, it fit really well with what I decided I wanted to do. I really had decided I want to do totally client side, just client side. And then being completely on my own, that exposed me to every single problem like, yeah sure, the small checkbox problems, but also architecture problems, deployment problems, everything. And that one year, I learned a silly amount of stuff.

Kent C. Dodds:
And then finally, I'd hired somebody on. I'd train them up, and they were doing awesome. And so I was like, "Okay, I'm ready to move on, because I want to switch my focus from AngularJS to React. I want to be on a team at a big company, deploying to millions of people." I had hundreds of users, I wanted to have millions of users. And so another very intentional change to a bigger company with a team of people who could challenge my ideas, had different experiences from my own, so that was an intentional change as well. So I don't know if I'd recommend that people change jobs three times in six months. Probably don't do that.

Michael Chan:
Avoid it if you can, but if you can't.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, but if you can't, it ended up working out really nicely for me. And I think the key takeaway there is I was very intentional about what I wanted my career to be. And I made sure that I was always at a place that could make that happen for me. I couldn't get what I wanted, well, I probably could have gotten what I wanted at Domo to be frank. I probably could have over time worked things. And I would have done it if they had given me a substantial pay raise because it was a pretty, I was not getting paid enough apparently. But it was a pretty big jump. And so that was my main motivation. But yeah, I wanted to do things with my career. My current job couldn't do it for me. So I moved and it worked out.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, no, there's a bunch of things kind of happening in tandem here. And I want to try to cover all of them. But one of them is that it seems like as you switched jobs, your focus got narrower and narrower. So you started out just kind of like general web development, and that meant you were doing Java, you're doing all kinds of stuff, but then you kind of narrowed that down to front end web development and then further still to Angular and then React, where you're actually specializing almost specifically like in a framework. Do you find that as you go through, as you navigate a career, does that kind of feel like a natural thing like you don't know what you like, and then you kind of hone in on it. And then you kind of have to go to different places to find that thing that you really want to do?

Kent C. Dodds:
Potentially, I would caution against people choosing a company to work for the tech stack. Tech changes over time. And yeah, maybe it is pretty common in our industry, so only lasts three to five years at a company so maybe we do have the luxury to jump around and follow tech stacks. When Apple killed Flash, the number of developers who were hosed by that was not great. And Apple can't kill React. Facebook might. I doubt that but yeah, so I was very intentional about JavaScript. Even before I graduated from college, I was like JavaScript's my thing. I'm doing that front end, back end, wherever. And so when I hit Java at that second job, I was like, "Nah, nah, this is not in line with my career goals." And I knew what their stack was like. I interviewed them just as much as they me. But it was more than I had expected.

Kent C. Dodds:
And when this other opportunity came around, it's like this is pretty great. I think bouncing around companies for a tech stack, maybe not totally recommended in general unless, I've worked at another company where we did Wicket, which you've probably never heard of, I mentioned it in another episode, but I would not work at a company that forced me to do that. I would within the company say, "I don't want to work on this. Can I go work on something else within the company?" No, I'm out.

Kent C. Dodds:
So if I'm working on dinosaur technology, that's not for me. Somebody else can go learn COBOL or Fortran or whatever. But that's not what I'm into. That's not part of my career goals. And so I'm willing to hop companies for that. But you just mostly have to be intentional about your career goals. If you want to be a generalist, that's totally cool. If you want to try to do the full stack thing, that's great. Go for that. Just make sure that your company can provide you what you want from your career I guess is the takeaway there.

Michael Chan:
I like that framing of it that you need to have an idea of what you want to walk away from the company with. And I think that's something we don't think about a lot. We think about like, "Oh man, I got this awesome job and I'll just take whatever I can get." but you need to be mindful of what you're going to. That's not going to be your last job. So what are you going to walk away with? Whether that be the title, whether that be experience in the tech stack, whether that be the experiences kind of outside of the tech stack? And yeah, because someone might be super happy working with a proprietary language at a company that pays them a bunch of money, whereas another person is like, "Look, you could pay me peanuts if I get to work with this tech stack, because I know that that's going to be the hotness over the next five years. And if I have the experiences, I'll make it up on the back end."

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, yeah.

Michael Chan:
And so I like that framing of know what you want when you leave that place because that's really the only thing that you can take with you. You made the money during the time you were there, but the thing you take with you is, as you mentioned before, your experiences.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah. And remember too that something that you said earlier made me think of the fact that we don't have to be committed to our companies. Our companies are not really committed to us. They can fire us for whatever reason. A company doesn't go great, whatever. Maybe the people in the company are committed to you, but the company has no loyalties to you whatsoever. And so jumping out of a company, out of a situation is not offensive, or it shouldn't be offensive to anybody who is a reasonable person. They should be more like, if they're interested in you at all as a person, then they should be happy for you to go find your dream job of doing whatever it is you're doing.

Kent C. Dodds:
And your dream job maybe like, Alianza was my dream job for that year that I was there. And then my dream job changed. And Alianza couldn't be my dream job anymore. I had to move somewhere else. And maybe your dream job can change. And you can stay at the same company because you're at a big company. PayPal was my dream job for three years. And then I was like, my dream job is to work for myself and I can't do that at PayPal. So your dream job can change. Maybe your company can adjust itself or you can adjust your position in the company to make that job your dream job, but maybe not. And that's the time to start interviewing.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, I want to talk about a specific experience where you felt like you were, I guess underappreciated, or that you weren't seen as being able to provide the value that you saw yourself providing. And I want to touch on that specifically, because I know that there are a lot of people who have this problem just in their career in general, like you had it in this isolated way. But there's a lot of people that based on their gender or their race or any other number of reasons, this kind of follows them, where they are underappreciated at their work because of something that they have no control over. So I just kind of talk about how that felt. And I know sometimes that that can make you incapable of wanting to go out and do the extra work and all that. So how did that feel and how did you kind of talk yourself through that and decide to make that change to move to a different company?

Kent C. Dodds:
Oh man, that is deep question. It's so important too, yeah. And anybody listening to this, especially if you're a white dude, recognize that or you need to listen to the stories of other people. Because you don't get it. I don't get it but I've tried to listen. And people have these experiences a lot. So my experience was like, it feels petty compared to the experiences that these people have that you can't just change a job and not have that. It follows you everywhere, where you're constantly having to fight that. And so yeah, the way that it feels, or the way that it felt for me, was kind of stuck. And I can totally see how somebody who has a chronic problem with that, where that's their life experience, would feel not motivated to put in the extra work or to put themselves in the way of whatever it is they're trying to learn. For me, yeah it's hard for me to say my experience when I know that it's so different from the lived experience of these other people we're talking about.

Michael Chan:
Well, yeah and that's what I want to talk about kind of like how it felt because I think that that is something that is something that's shared. And I think that when we talk about how we feel like, yes everyone has different experiences. But I think that feeling underappreciated and kind of feeling undervalued and stuck and being the person who has to force yourself to kind of get up and make a better life for yourself, I think that is something, those are feelings that people have regardless of their position. And I think talking about the feelings could be helpful.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, yeah. Well, so the feeling was I felt stuck. Yeah, just kind of like, I can either put in extra hours of work and miss out on that time with my family, and hopefully I'd get the recognition for it. As a UI engineer, it was always funny at Demo Day, because the UI engineers always got all the accolades, because you could actually see what they built but the back end engineers are like, "Well look at this terminal output." So as a UI engineer, I normally was able to get the accolades for the work, the extra work that I would do, but it was often just really hard for me to get that extra work.

Kent C. Dodds:
And at the time, I was not experienced enough to know that I could ask for that. And so I think that if I were to have put myself in the way of it a little bit more and ask for the harder work tasks, or maybe even just shadow somebody else doing it, then maybe I could have had a little bit more of that. But the feeling that I had sans that I guess was just feeling stuck. And that is super demotivating. It made me feel like maybe I should move to another company when I probably could have made it work out okay. Aside from the pay, I probably could have made it out okay, if I had known that I could unstick myself.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, this is something that I want to talk about because it's this kind of weird thing that happens. I guess it's maybe Stockholm Syndrome I think where you feel underappreciated, and that makes you want to work harder. And this is kind of a tactic that companies use a lot of the times, where it's like if you feel underappreciated, well then you're going to spend your evening hours and your weekend hours trying to prove yourself, but building a career shouldn't be about proving yourself. It should be about, like you said, gaining your experiences, and being able to demonstrate them.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, absolutely. And it's not fair, especially to people who just deal with that because of the perceptions of others.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, yeah. I had a conversation recently with Paris Athena. And she was saying that, that is something that's so hard to communicate to people who have an easy job, an easy time in their career, where the path seems laid out for them, where if you're the only person who looks or presents a certain way at a company, you have two jobs. One of them is just doing the work. And then the other one is kind of managing how people perceive you, which is just exhausting. And then add trying to find another job onto that.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, for real.

Michael Chan:
That's too many things, too many things.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah.

Michael Chan:
So I do want to talk about a way out of that. And I know that you have done a really good job of as you have learned, you have demonstrated that knowledge in a public way that kind of shows that you have that experience, that you've gained that experience. Tell me about that in terms of career development and getting out of those stucks thoughts.

Kent C. Dodds:
Oh, man, I'm so glad you asked this question because I wanted to make sure we covered this before we wrap up and it kind of loops back all the way to what I said at the beginning is it doesn't matter if you're the best engineer ever. You can have all the experience in the world. If nobody knows, then you will not get what you want in your career. If you want to just pound the keyboard and do what you've been doing, then that's totally cool. But if you want to have some control over your career, then I'm sorry, programming is not just about typing keywords on a keyboard. Programming is much more about communication and being effective at marketing yourself. And that's not just like build a brand for yourself. Not everybody wants a brand, that's fine. You don't need a brand. What you need is people in your corner who know who you are and what you have accomplished.

Kent C. Dodds:
And so taking intentional opportunities to show off what you've done. Don't feel like you're cocky, just throw that feeling out the window. I mean, don't be cocky. Don't take credit for what other people have done. But take credit and accept accolades for the things that you've done, that you've actually accomplished and I think that especially new engineers are really nervous about doing that but it's okay to celebrate your success and to do so in a public setting. And so wherever you're at, if you finally get that checkbox to connect to that data model so that when the server gets that update, it all goes and it all works, you can celebrate that. You go high five your friends or whatever, virtual five your coworkers. Tell your boss like, "Hey, I'm really excited about the fact that I finished this up. This is a really big challenge. Thank you for giving me this challenge. I learned a lot. Here's some things that I learned.", or like when your team ships something, tell your boss or tell your teammate's boss how awesome they were or whatever it is. That communication will pay dividends big time.

Kent C. Dodds:
Anybody who's like, "Oh well, that's nothing. Let me tell you the story about the time that I carried this server uphill both ways in the snow." Who cares about those people? That's stupid. You want people who are going to be in your corner and celebrating with you and giving you back those air fives and being able to effectively communicate the things that you've accomplished is so critical in your career. If there's nothing else you'd take from our conversation today, it should be you need to be able to communicate what you've accomplished. Because without that, nothing else really matters. You won't be able to control your own destiny as an engineer, and I think that's what you want probably.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like that is the cherry on top. Communicate what you accomplish is a very good way to move forward. It also gives you some kind of lines in the sand of like, you know what, I did that so I can probably do the next thing. And I like the way that you kind of frame, wrap this up in this concept of gratitude. Because it makes it very, it's almost like a shield, I guess around your own accomplishment. You go out and you're like, "Oh man, I did this thing and it's so awesome. You know who helped me? These five people and I couldn't have done it without them." It's like, who can complain about that, right?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally, totally. And like, "Thank you, boss for giving me this opportunity to work on this hard problem." What boss is going to be like, "No."? What are they going to say to that? So yeah, I definitely feel like, and if you're just the one, this is like a cautionary note. But if you're just the one who's always saying, "Hey, look at this cool thing that I did." Yeah, people are going to clap and be happy for you, the good kind of people that you want to be around. But if that's all that you do, then their applause will become half hearted. And so I think it's important for you to celebrate just as much for other people as you do for yourself. I know that not everybody's an enthusiastic person. I'm a very enthusiastic person. I think that everything that I accomplished or other people accomplished is worth a celebration, but from my personal career experience, communicating effectively what I've done and celebrating the things that I've accomplished and my co workers have accomplished has paid big dividends for me. So yeah, I guess just kind of advice with all of that is make sure that you celebrate just as much the accomplishments of others as you do your own. And people will be more excited to celebrate with you when you accomplish that.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I love that. Now, so much of this depends on finding the right people, whether that be in the company you are now or in your communities. How do you recommend taking that with you because you're going to change jobs and you can't bring all of the people that you really liked working with to the next thing. How do you think about this in terms of community and kind of finding those communities that are going to be supportive and enthusiastic and positive throughout your career?

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, well so for me, I'm building a personal brand and my Twitter following, my YouTubes and my Discord and everything. That's all very important. And I just naturally share and celebrate on those public forums. And you can totally do that too, getting a group of people and that's actually part of how I feel like I've developed my following on Twitter, is that I celebrate with other people. I tweet this project somebody worked on I think that's amazing. I'll find their Twitter so I can make sure I mention them like that's so cool. And then hey, look, I just released a new version of this library. It's amazing, so celebrating, I spend a lot of time being positive and enthusiastic about the cool accomplishments of myself and others. And so you can do it in public situations like that or you could find a Discord community to do that on. And yeah, you make a good point. You can't always take these coworkers with you, these friends that you've developed, which is something to keep in mind too, that maybe this is a little bit tangential to what you're trying to get out of this question, but I found that focusing a lot of my efforts and energies on company specific domain information and relationships, well relationships are maybe okay, but the information makes it so you can't transfer as much to your next job.

Kent C. Dodds:
But those relationships, your career is more than five years at a single company. And so the number of executives that I've talked to who said, "Oh yeah, they poached me from this other company, we worked together 20 years ago at this thing.", those relationships will last and and maintaining the good relationships that you have I think will be worth your while. And it's more than just a LinkedIn connection. It's finding some way to connect with them, wish them happy birthday or something. Genuine, you care about these people. But yeah, I don't know if that really answers your specific question, but some thoughts around that.

Michael Chan:
Yeah, yeah. And I know that we're going to talk a lot about in the upcoming episodes about open source and open source communities, which are huge talking about brands and groups that you can get involved with. I think I just wanted to touch on the idea that it doesn't all have all have to happen at work, and so much of building your experience and is building those relationships that are outside of your company. And fortunately, that can happen on platforms you're already on, whether that be social media or Discord or certain slack groups, open source. There's a ton of places to find people who want to go on that journey with you.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, absolutely. And they're really, what's cool is that you can make those relationships on the job, because those are the people who are helping you do your job. So you have a question about how to use this library or you find a bug in this library, you can contribute to it. We'll talk a lot about that. But there's a lot of opportunity there.

Michael Chan:
Well, I think we've covered a lot of ground in this episode. I'm really excited. I thought, I didn't think we'd get through all of those big pillar topics. I think that this is really great stuff. I appreciate your insight into navigating that. And then also sensitivity to there's a ton of experiences that you know that you don't have. And I hope that this can be a starting point for those conversations for people who have different experiences to communicate them, and to extend the conversation that we had to all manner of experiences and job opportunities.

Kent C. Dodds:
Yeah, absolutely. And just one other thing on that. Hopefully, I expect the majority of people who watch this based on my analytics and my Twitter following, most people are white dudes, and as much as I try to diversify my following, but hopefully if you're listening to this, and you're in that position of power, where you can celebrate someone's accomplishments, you put a little bit more effort into the people who are typically not acknowledged, because it costs you nothing, and it will make a big impact in their lives. So yeah, spend a little bit of time acknowledging and celebrating the wins of people who are typically not acknowledged or celebrated.

Michael Chan:
I love that. That's a great place to end. We're excited to continue these conversations and talk about open source and choosing the right product, what to say yes to, what to say no to, letting things go in the episodes to come. Thanks, Kent.

Kent C. Dodds:
Thank you, Michael.