Denis Defreyne

Weeknotes 2022 W30:
Tech scars

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Today is the last day of the last week of time off before I start my new job.

I’m skipping the company off-site which coincidentally overlaps with my first work week though, as I’ve been under the weather, and traveling while sick sucks. (I’m speaking from experience here.) Nonetheless, I should be able to join the onboarding remotely just fine coming week.


The trip back from Belgium to Berlin was mostly uneventful, apart from a 30-minute train delay, which amazingly did not cause problems for the connecting train. I came home on time, and it really felt great to be back in Berlin.

I’m guessing that the reason why I’m under the weather is because I’ve been around tons of people the last two weeks, and in total I only counted two people in Belgium wearing a mask. As I mentioned in last week’s week­notes, Weeknotes 2022 W29: Belgium, the approach Belgians seem to take is “it is not required (to wear a mask), so we don’t do it”. I even got weird looks for consistently wearing a mask on the train! I’ve been in dozens and dozens of social bubbles during my travels, and I imagine that has exposed me to far more chances to get sick than any other time during the pandemic.


I have complicated feelings around starting a new job.

Having nearly two months off was great. I managed to relax, do things I really like doing, and learned a lot by working on some hobby projects. I did what I wanted with the time I had, and that made me happy.

But of course, doing what I want doesn’t pay any bills, so having a job is pretty much a necessity. That’s not the only reason for having a job though: on occasion during the past few weeks, I’ve felt genuinely bored, and that is a strange feeling that I haven’t had in years. I need something meaningful to work on; I need meaningful things to achieve — and that’s what I hope this job will allow me to do.

That said, I don’t think I’ve properly recovered from the burnout at my previous role at Shopify. I hadn’t thought of it as burnout before, but looking back, the definition clearly fits, and it’s no coincidence I was out sick for four weeks. I don’t think I have properly recovered from burnout at roles before Shopify either. When I think about the new job I’m starting tomorrow, my mind keeps asking me: but what if this one is going to be just as bad as the other ones?

To be clear, I don’t have any evidence that this will be the case at my new employer. This is my lizard brain extrapolating from past experiences.

Tech has left me scarred. I’ve done good work in the last decade and have felt appreciated while doing so, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. On too many occasions, I have felt exploited, where my feedback is not appreciated, my years of experience are considered not relevant, and attempts to change the broken status quo are met with harsh reactions or even threats to put me on a performance improvement plan (also known as PIP). I’ve seen horribly broken and unfixable processes, entire tech departments working on things that will never work (and people are aware), and immensely wasteful ways of working where 90% is busywork and at the end of the day barely anything ends up being achieved. A hotbed for burnout.

Still, my role as a staff engineer at my upcoming job should give me the freedom I’ve lacked elsewhere to do the right things in the right ways, with the right people, and to make good changes in an environment where trust is mutual, and people help each other grow. I’ve been burnt many times in the past, but I really hope it works out this time.


Shopify sent me another email that they’re sending me a laptop return box. I already received two, but only had one laptop. I definitely don’t need three return boxes.

It’s not the first time I had issues with IT logistics: when I joined Shopify, they accidentally sent me two laptops.


Let’s talk entertainment!


Links:

Blockchain links:

I might reduce the amount of blockchain links because I could pretty much link to everything on Web3 is going just great.

Week­notes for week of July 25th, 2022. Browse the weeknotes archive, get these week­notes via email or subscribe to the web feed.
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