An American Millennial

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

Post by theanimal » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:26 pm

It's fun watching you do so well. I'm glad you're liking your new setup. Keep kicking ass!

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by wolf » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:44 pm

Thankfully you transitioned very well from Asia back to USA! That's great to hear. I also do follow your journal regurlarly and I'm pleased to hear, that you like it in Chicago with your new job. Wish you all the best to keep the momentum going! Let's ride the wave of good progress.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:43 pm

Thank you wolf, theanimal, and slowtraveler. Living in a 1 bedroom in the heart of the city. I like it so far. Good news as well is my girlfriend and cats will be joining me Sep 30 or even earlier depending on what the school decides to do about replacing her. She is studying JS as well now.

New potential mid-term plan is to get 1-2 years experience here, then look for similar job in Canada and work towards citizenship. Mostly for 1st world healthcare and safety, and mostly with consideration for future offspring/their offspring.

Short-term plan is to be productive at work as quickly as possible. Code base is huge, and it's in Python and Vue.js, both which I've never used before.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » 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. As well, remote is fine, but for now, and the weather being fine, I prefer going to the office. Getting to know the other team members (<20 people I think), and having access to the other 2-3 devs I think is important. In the winter, and as I get more comfortable, maybe I'll take advantage of the remote work.

If anyone is Canadian, the path to citizenship isn't 100% clear on my initial research. Wonder if I can be a permanent resident without working for a Canadian company. Because if so I then could just eventually move to Canada as a remote worker.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:35 pm

Found an amazing football league here. 4 or 5 seasons/year, back-to-back. Outdoors turf. In the winter they put a dome over everything. 5v5, 8v8, and 11v11 leagues, rec, intermediate, advanced, one super league or something I think, and men's or co-ed. Multiple leagues in each division. And you can sign up as a sub almost everyday for free on top of joining a league. 15 min. bus ride from my apartment. Fields supply pennies, find subs, refs, balls, everything. Just need to show up, pay dues or RSVP as a sub, bring shin guards and cleats, and you're good to go.

Key since I haven't done anything but study, shop furniture, and work last 3 weeks. Full-time full-stack web developer so much harder than self-study. Some days are hard. Actually just 1 day was real hard. Checked Indeed for companies hiring in Chicago. But that was all remedied after lunch... think maybe my senior developer needs some more mentor/coaching bullet points added to his job description.

Scott 2
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:39 am

You're going to confuse people calling it football :)

My company expects a 6-12 month ramp up period for a new developer, even after favoring hires with a degree or couple years of experience. It's going to take some time, but gets easier as expectations level out. I remind myself that with the industry growth, people at all levels are stretching to learn their new responsibilities.

If your systems people are doing their job well, everything you do on their machine, systems and network is logged. Maybe stating the obvious, but for anything not directly work related (like an on the clock job search or venting about said senior dev), user your personal device and cell data.

Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:50 am

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 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:36 am

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.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:22 pm

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

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:25 pm

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.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:35 pm

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 » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:11 pm

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 » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:34 pm

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 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:43 pm

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.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:59 pm

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 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:30 pm

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 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:36 pm

@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.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:29 pm

So this is how you guys really retired early.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by unemployable » Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:37 pm

You're not wrong.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:57 am

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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