An American Millennial

Where are you and where are you going?
Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Good advice, I definitely used my personal phone. Ultimately, changing companies would be worst case scenario. I'm getting exposed to an entire new language, as well as 5+ new frameworks and dozens of dependencies.

My CTO said 3 months is the hope to get me up to speed. Nobody really puts pressure on me to perform except for me so far, so that's nice. My only regret is that I didn't join a company with more of a structure for new developers. Our developer team is like 3.5 people, if you include me. So my tasks have been pretty wide ranging, and as full-stack, cover the entire application/s. It's a double-edged sword, of course. I'm also getting a lot more experience and responsibility, I imagine, than a more structured junior developer role at an established company would get.

And for a startup, @$62,500/year with no previous working experience, I think I'm getting compensated fairly. Culture is great otherwise.

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RFS
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by RFS »

Congratulations man. You are a total badass. About work, I hope you take solace in your hustle. Even if the worst case scenario is switching jobs, you have proven to yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to. I hope the onboarding gets easier with time. Everything is difficult at the beginning.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Thanks RFS. I'm feeling pretty good, like I said it was just that 1 hard day. And it was moreso my senior's attitude than any of the actual challenges of the job. Outside of work real happy, and much better than my last full-time job, which was a call center and I felt like quitting every single day. That's actually the job that led me to move abroad and find out about ERE. Thanks for the support

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 »

That's a small team. Three months is aggressive. It'll be stressful, but I am sure you'll learn more than a larger company provides. A start-up running so lean will have no choice but to level you. Getting paid to gain that experience is great. At the point you can shed the junior label, I do think a more cash flush company would offer significantly better compensation.

The bigger my company gets, the more new staff members are coddled and the lower expectations get. Think at least a year of doing simple bug fixes, or maybe making single page additions to an application. IMO our youngest developers are shorting themselves, hanging around for an easy job during the current tech boom. They are missing the opportunity for rapid growth and will be stuck when the next recession comes.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

The cyber security arm of the business get compensated more, I believe. I have the opportunity to take their course for free as well, so I could transition into cyber security with this company or another. Overall, with the very modern view on remote work, casual dress, growing company, and opportunity for growth, I would be happy staying here if my salary will grow quickly. I'm not sure how much I could reasonably expect, but I know some of the security guys make over $100k.

Good point about the rapid growth pre-recession. I hadn't thought about that, but it's definitely a good reason to embrace the extra pace and difficulty.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 »

I did some security work at my company while it was small - vulnerability scanning, finding remediation, client audits, process documentation, internal audits, etc. It was repetitive and paperwork intensive, with real improvements in security difficult to come by. I was thrilled when we brought on a full time person to take over the work.

At least in my firm, the fun stuff like penetration testing (hacking / social engineering /etc.) is not security's primary role. That's outsourced to an independent firm (no conflict of interest) or depends on an industry standard tool, that the security team just runs. I've observed very limited opportunities for creativity. Even the findings themselves are essentially IDs referencing the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database.

It is a good way to get paid. Very predictable work, growing demand and a shortage of people who want to do it. I'm never touching it again.

There is an expectation that all developers are well versed in security these days. At a minimum, they need to understand the OWASP Top 10. Even if you don't go the cyber security path, getting trained on it (especially for free) is very worthwhile.

You've probably already come across this site, but assuming you do succeed with the development work, breaking 100k is very doable:

https://www.levels.fyi/

There's a sub reddit you can watch for perspective as well:

https://www.reddit.com/r/cscareerquesti ... rads_june/
https://www.reddit.com/r/cscareerquesti ... perienced/

It really comes down to proving you are a professional developer. The money is there for someone who can deliver.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

The security people at my company do the pen testing stuff, ethical hacking so to speak. Which is why it sounds kind of interesting at least. But I have heard that their job here is harder to find in the security realm. A couple of them did more what you're describing before joining our company.

I am worried about the creative part. That's actually something I was thinking about today. That's one of my favorite things about development, I think. And I was wondering how creative you can really be in the security realm. At least, the course is free for me (as long as I stay for 1 year), so it's the best opportunity I'll have to try it out. From what I can tell, though, their pen testing is mostly using various tools to try and discover client vulnerabilities, and I just don't know how much I'd enjoy that relative to what I do now. I like writing code, I even like debugging code, not sure if most do, but I do haha. It's fun seeing how it works (or trying to, more like, for me right now).

I hadn't seen levels before. The financial opportunity is definitely there, it's crazy.
It really comes down to proving you are a professional developer.
I think this is my focus right now.

EDIT: those reddit salaries though

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unemployable
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by unemployable »

Viktor K wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:48 pm
@unemployable I missed part of your post before. The job is downtown, and my new place is in Lakeview. <30min commute from my doorstep to my office. The 'L' drops me off in the building actually.
We seem to keep missing each other on this thread.

I lived near Wellington/Sheridan for about six years. That was after I lived in a shoebox further north and before moving to the Gold Coast where I could walk to work downtown. One-bedroom condos were going for about $80-90k when I moved in in 1997 (my rent was $600/mo) and it was a big deal when the first condo in my building sold for six figures a year or two later.

I biked to work most of the time, even through the cold. Depending on your walk to the station a bus may be faster than the L. A lot of L commuters in Chicago seem to avoid buses like the plague, but they're often faster or more convenient, especially if no transfers are involved, as several routes run rush-hour-only.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

I'll have to see if there's a bus alternative. The Brown line is slow, too many stops, but otherwise it picks up a couple blocks from my apartment and drops off @ my work building. Pretty happy with the public transportation so far. I'm getting 1 month passes, but with working from home always on the table at this job, and just catching the bus to play soccer otherwise, @$100, I may drop the 1 month passes come winter. Don't see myself going to the office much when it snows and its cold.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by unemployable »

When I lived there monthly passes were priced at around 45-50 standard fares. So they didn't make sense for most daily commuters. That was for CTA; for Metra they were a better deal.

I remember being able to cheat the transfer rules. As long as you went through a fare gate within two hours of the first gate you went through, it only counted as a transfer rather than a new fare. The cards didn't know when or where you got off, unlike, for example, BART in San Francisco. So you could do a round trip for fare + 25¢. They may have tightened up on that by now.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by jacob »

@unemployable - I have a better one... which no longer works. It used to be that you could get on the bus first, then pay the quarter to transfer to the L and the total price would be less than getting on the L directly.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

So this is how you guys really retired early.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by unemployable »

You're not wrong.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Quick monthly update before getting started on work. I've been working from home Tues-Friday. Many evenings I go to bed and think to myself, "I'm going to the office tomorrow!" Then, when morning comes, working from home at my desk vs commuting always wins. Mondays, though, we have company-wide stand ups, and I prefer to be in the office for those. Everyone I work with is really nice.

Net worth: -$17,890

Goals last month were:

Career: I will know Python, Flask, and SQLAlchemy
Financial: I will make a payment on my student loan
Education: I will finish a Python, Flask, and SQLAlchemy course
Creative: I will build my own app using the 3 techs above
Attitude: I will review my accomplishments weekly
Physical: I will add salads to my diet, and start running
Pleasure: LOL, and go to the lake and the river

I did pretty well on these. From bottom to top, I played LOL and went to the lake (twice). I didn't start running but I'm playing soccer 3-5/week. No salads yet, but we did order some kitchen stuff off Amazon last night to make that happen. Reviewed accomplishments weekly? No, not really. I didn't build my own app with the 3 techs. As far as creativity goes, nothing outside of work projects. Education-wise, I was going to finish a Python course, but it's not a top priority anymore. Since I feel very comfortable with all 3 techs listed after getting so much practice with them this month. And for the student loans, I didn't make a payment, but need to. So I'll do that today.

professional
Work is going well, and it's difficult. Most of the difficulty, I think, comes from being the first junior on a team of 2.5 developers. One "dev" is the manager, one "dev" is actually a security guy, and the other dev is actually a full-time developer. Quotes on the first two because their time is often dominated by other tasks. And, since I'm the first junior on the small team, a lot of times I feel like I'm left to flounder and that there isn't a very good infrastructure around me. Like code reviews, for example, aren't really a thing here. And sprint meetings are every 3 weeks.

Biggest challenges this last week have been Vue and then "devops" kind of things that aren't really writing code. Like SSHing into a server, accessing a database, working with docker, these sorts of things.

I'm doing well, though, by all accounts. I fixed a mission critical parser that has been broken for months. Reduced queries being made by 99%, solved memory leak (2), and increased speed by 90%. The tasks I'm given aren't, by manager's definition, "for a junior developer".

personal
Girlfriend and cats are back. They got here Friday, and that's great. Love having the family back, makes the apartment much more homely. And creates a drive to finally explore this city. Girlfriend brought her rescue back too and we were able to get it a couple fosters for the first week. She's working hard on that. Our friend is visiting as well, from China, so a lot of time spent hanging out with him.

Playing a lot of football/soccer. They have 3/week 7AM pickup games, plus an evening game, plus I play on 2 teams. So if I make all games, that's 6 games/week, about 5 hours of play. Really lucked out with my apartment since that pitch is a 5 minute bus ride which picks up right outside and drops off right next to the field.

Food is one area I want to improve on. Lack of kitchenware means lots of frozen and stove top dinners. But we just ordered some stuff. Cats are really happy to see me and be off the plane, as well as to have an apartment all to themselves. It's been a long time and I think they were really stressed in the last place.

financial
Earn basically $1,000 after tax/insurance each week. I've got my budget set for two week intervals, attempting to maintain positive net worth growth each paycheck. The first 2 weeks are tough each month with rent being $1475. Until my girlfriend gets some kind of work, that's on me to pay. I feel much more secure financially, with my new career, but I will feel better once 6 months and 1 year are down. I still feel a lot of pressure to succeed, but I think all of that comes from myself. So this new earnings level can hopefully be maintained and increased.

With current budget, including a $150-200/week "shopping" catchall discretionary bucket, financial spending each month is $2689 (including taxes), or about 50%. Living expenses (mostly because of rent) @ $2000 or 40% and discretionary at $465/mo or about 10%.

This 50/40/10 split will turn to a 65/25/10 once the girlfriend gets a job.

1-2 year goal for finances is to keep up-to-date on LinkedIn, resume, and in contact with recruiters other developers. Tightening of budget could help as well, but likely won't change much the first year. Ideally, when salary review comes around, if I'm job search ready or interviewing with other companies, I'll have leverage. I say leverage, but I honestly just hope my company agrees to my salary expectations moving forward. Since the culture is top-notch, working from home a huge boon, and scope of my job, while sometimes stressful, is great for my development.

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Lemur
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Lemur »

What python course are you currently doing?

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 »

Great to see you doing so well. I predict you'll look back to 2019 as an inflection point in your financial position. I'd encourage you to remain flexible in regards to saving, allowing work to consume that additional mental energy. You are building life changing human capital every day. Especially within your generation, tech is going to create a sharp class divide.

If there's an area my formal CS degree fell short, it is around not programming. All our energy went into complicated algorithms and concepts. As a professional, I've seen estimates that only 18% of the effort on a delivered product goes into writing code.

Does your team use any sort of static analysis tool for code quality feedback? In the .NET world there are products like NDepend or SonarQube. Something like that could offer you a middle ground between demanding code review from an over-scheduled manager and no feedback at all.

How do you collaborate when working from home? I've been doing it for 9 years. Slack threads replaced half our email a few years ago. A few times a week, I might get on a conference call with screen sharing. I'm considering introduction of video chat. It's not part of our culture today, and so I'd be challenging some existing norms. I'm curious what a young company does.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

Lemur wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:36 am
What python course are you currently doing?
First two things I did in Python were build an Indeed scraper after watching a video on YouTube about making a Twitter bot and a second video about using Google Sheets. After that I had to try and figure things out on the backend via Google. Finally, I caved and spent the first dollar ever on a course to take Codecademy's Python 3 course, which is behind their paywall. My work is reimbursing me. It's a good course, I like it because it's Codecademy, but the Pro membership I don't think is worth it.

At this point, I feel comfortable enough with Python that the course is something I will finish, but am not desperate to do so. I can't learn from code alongs and video/audio, though, and Codecademy was the first thing I found that was an interactive course.
Scott 2 wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:05 pm
Does your team use any sort of static analysis tool for code quality feedback? In the .NET world there are products like NDepend or SonarQube. Something like that could offer you a middle ground between demanding code review from an over-scheduled manager and no feedback at all.

How do you collaborate when working from home? I've been doing it for 9 years. Slack threads replaced half our email a few years ago. A few times a week, I might get on a conference call with screen sharing. I'm considering introduction of video chat. It's not part of our culture today, and so I'd be challenging some existing norms. I'm curious what a young company does.
I will have to look into those. I'm still learning faster than when I was on my own, having the demands of the job, being employed 40/week, and being able to ask questions (though sometimes it takes a while to get an answer, and often the answer is cryptic). But the one code review I had was very helpful. Not necessarily on what to do/how to do it, but style/cleanliness.

My work uses Slack and Zoom and I do video chats around 3-5/week, sometimes more. We don't really do much collaboration, usually projects are 100% mine, backend, frontend, database, where to even start in the codebase. Most of the time I'm on Slack for questions, jokes, catching up. Mostly questions of course. And group chats for bugs/requests. If I can't work through something, that's when we hop on a Zoom call, almost always video chat then screen share. Everyone gets a headset when they join and since maybe 25% of our team is remote/out-of-state, with more like 75% remote outside of Mondays, video chat is more or less the norm.

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 »

Wow, that is heavy use of video chat. It's probably time to update my approach. Thanks for sharing.

slowtraveler
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler »

Huge congratulations man. Sounds like you're much more satisfied, stimulated, and successful in your life now.

I have 2 questions about where you are now.

1) Considering how capable remote work is, would you consider becoming a remote worker to take advantage of the FEIE and pay 0 federal or state taxes while having lower expenses?

I mean this as in the future. Clearly, you're settling into a new environment at the moment but once you bore, there's a tax efficiency improvement available both federally and at the state level. The only reason I'd want to go into work would be a stimulating environment and it seems the video calls handle this need more than I expected was possible so I don't see much reason to stay long term unless you love the city. If you're ever curious about this, it's one of my passions so ask away.

2) Considering how remote the work is, would you have been able to get work like this from abroad? I'm asking this one more for me. I keep thinking about what to do once my gig runs out and software/engineer (accounting possible but I feel it's less useful long term due to automation) are the only ones I really feel called to so if I was able to learn the skills + get the work without returning, that'd make the choice clear for software over engineering.

You've really been an inspiration man, thanks for sticking around for the long run and sharing your journey.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K »

slowtraveler wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:29 am
1) Considering how capable remote work is, would you consider becoming a remote worker to take advantage of the FEIE and pay 0 federal or state taxes while having lower expenses?
It's possible, but it's hard to plan that far in advance. My 5 year goals include kids and maybe a home, and moving abroad is hard enough already with just the two of us and the cats. Also, there are things that are just as important to me as savings, taxes or otherwise, such as playing sports, diet, ease of life, and others. Living abroad also means cycling through friendships, and missing out on a lot of family things, both of which I didn't enjoy much.

One thing I would consider, if remote work continues in the future, would be home ownership in a more affordable place. Home prices where I am now are in the millions of dollars.

slowtraveler wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:29 am
2) Considering how remote the work is, would you have been able to get work like this from abroad?
It's hard to say. I think you could, sure, but I got really lucky that I got in front of the right person. Even doing everything "right" so to speak as far as having my resume critiqued dozens of times, SEO'ing my LinkedIn, having a portfolio site, being active on Github, doing projects, writing cover letters, e-mailing HR directly, etc, etc... I think luck still played a huge role. I was expecting up to a year of unemployment. With experience, it would be easier, I'm sure.

Another issue working abroad remotely, I've heard from others, is the time difference, which can be an added stress. Best thing for you to do, in order to really know the answer to your question, is review/update your resume, and start applying to remote jobs.

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