6 Month Retro and Prospective

Today is February 6th 2023, it has been 187 days since I was laid off from my old job as a software engineer at OnePointOne. Fortunately, I will be starting a new job tomorrow at Rinse, a laundry delivery service, as a software engineer.

Six months of unemployment sucked. People think it's like some sort of amazing gift to be on unemployment because you're getting paid not to work and it seems like a perpetual vacation funded by the government. But it's not. It's anxiety inducing because you know that you will eventually be cut off (in my case I had 1 more month of unemployment left) and it's depressing because you have nothing to do all day. It's very human to want a purpose and meaning, and it's incredibly hard to find any when you have nothing to do, no goal to aim toward.

Another thing that would've sucked is my skills atrophying because I didn't have a job. Fortunately, I started working on a project of my own and learned a lot from that. I worked on a podcast transcription website and got to learn a lot more about building a website using async workers React and TailwindCSS. This project was great to work on because it really gave me something productive to focus on instead of just wilting away as the months passed by.

Being unemployed for so long helped me at least recognize the way I have been programmed. A distinct memory I have is when I was in 1st grade, my dad and a man were talking and then the man asked me what I wanted to do or be when I grow up. I responded by saying I want to get good grades to get into a good college so I can get a good job. That idea was planted in me very young, and I have pretty much manifested it. But the problem I have been grappling with over the past year is that at first that I was very much dissatisfied with my job. Then once I got laid off, I felt like I had become a complete failure because I was defining myself almost solely based on my employment. Now that I've been without a career for 6 months, I do finally understand that while career is important, it really is only a small part of life.

I have been better, though still working on, defining myself outside of a professional context. The six months I was unemployed almost every Tuesday I would go to the Downtown Senior Center in San Francisco and volunteer as a computer lab aid for 2 hours. And while brief, I also helped an older woman move and sell things on Facebook marketplace and Offerup to help her downsize and get some cash in her pocket. But still, it was nice to do this sort of work helping people as it made me feel needed and useful, which was something I was lacking due to my unemployment. It was nice to solve people's problems and to be thanked for doing things I considered pretty simple, like underlining fonts in Microsoft Word, or plugging in a computer, or moving a box up a flight of stairs.

I'm sure at some point I will look back on this period longingly when I could sleep in late on a Wednesday morning, but for now I am very much looking forward to getting back to work.

So, going forward what am I excited for? Well obviously, I am excited to work at Rinse. I will be working there as a full stack engineer. Basically that means I will be doing frontend, backend, mobile, and infrastructure development. Which to me is really exciting because I love being able to work on multiple areas and learning different skills. I am also excited to learn about the business side of things as well as how to use and operate business analytics tools. Something that I am expecting at Rinse is a lot more transparency regarding financing, customers, and general business metrics regarding the company. I'm also excited to work on software that will help end users. I think the best part is that Rinse is set up to be able to leverage software well to act as a force multiplier on productivity. What I mean is that if a software engineer is able to make a process that takes 1 minute/day/employee and automates it, then across the organization that could be anywhere from 50-150 minutes/day saved, which translates into a cost savings. I think overall I am just excited to work somewhere that actually has already found product market fit and I can come in to learn more about how to try and replicate that while also operating a well oiled software shop.

In six months, I am hoping that there will be many tangible accomplishments that I can point to where I can say I changed that, or fixed that, or made that, and as a result the company is making more money, or is saving money, or these people's lives are easier, or the customer is happier, etc. The thing I have been looking for in my career is to actually see software I write put a smile on someone's face by solving their problems. I am hoping that in six months I will have a solid understanding of the core business at Rinse, the technology being leveraged, how I can help, and will also be proud of the contributions I will have made. I am grateful that Rinse is providing me this opportunity to grow and learn in my career.

Zach Bellay published on

5 min, 944 words