Hackernoon logoMy Year in Review by@danicat

My Year in Review

Daniela Petruzalek Hacker Noon profile picture

@danicatDaniela Petruzalek

Software Engineer at GoCardless

Now is that time of the year to think about the past 365 days and make plans for the year to come. I usually find very helpful to write about my own experiences… it’s a way to reflect about them and extract the lessons from what I did right or wrong.

I have so many things to say about this year. It was easily a year that I could see either as a glass half full or half empty. So many achievements and so many frustrations!

I’ve started this year as a broken person: I had lost my job in the middle of 2016 and was struggling with a relationship that was breaking apart. My only means of salvation was to accept a job offer which would mean moving away to another city in another state, about 1,000 kilometers away from the person I loved.

I knew that this move would end my relationship, but with bills stacking up and more and more meaningless fights over money, my relationship wouldn’t go so far if I stayed either. It was in early January when I moved to Porto Alegre, RS, in the South of Brazil, to join Globo.com. The city’s name means “Happy Port” in a free translation… but I was not happy.

Not that I wasn’t excited for the new job, it was quite the opposite. But it was my personal life that was having a heavy weight on my state of mind. For the first few months I’ve still tried to keep my relationship alive. I thought that somehow the distance could show us how much we loved each other and heal all the wounds… I was wrong, and close to the middle of the year we’ve finally broke up.

While my personal life was crumbling, something else was happening in my professional life. Globo.com had proven to be a great place to work. Not only they believed in my potential when nobody else did, but for the first time in my life I was being recognized for my work.

Globo.com has the tradition of sponsoring several events and gives us employees a lot of support to promote public speaking. Since I love working with people and you can’t exercise this side that much on a pure software engineering role, I found the public speaking thing to be a great way to satisfy my necessity to interact with people.

Soon I started receiving invitations to speak from technical conferences everywhere. It started with small events and then somehow things escalated really fast. I have even drawn attention from Google, whom from time to time asks me to talk at some of their local events.

Speaking at Google Launchpad Build Porto Alegre

At the beginning I was very insecure to give technical talks because I thought I wasn’t “technical enough”. That may seem strange, but I’ve heard that a lot during that time I was job seeking.

Since my past job title was Sales Consultant, people had a hard time believing that I could dig deep technically into any subject. Funny enough, you may include myself as one of those people.

I’ve written an entire article about that switch from a sales career to a software developer one, while dealing with impostor syndrome, so I won’t repeat myself. If you haven’t read it yet you may find it here.

Eventually I’ve managed to overcome that mindset and as of today I’m proud to announce that 2017 was the best year in my entire career regarding public appearances: I’ve given 15 talks, reaching out to about 1,000 people in 7 different cities. This may seem a small feat compared to the most notorious speakers out there, but compared to myself in the previous year, it’s a huge improvement. (I had just one talk in 2016, reaching out to about 50 people)

Another thing I’m also proud of doing in 2017 is starting to contribute with open source. In 2016 I had some personal projects published, but it was in 2017 the first time I’ve managed to contribute to someone’s else project. The feeling of having a pull request accepted is awesome. I didn’t contribute as much as I would like, but it was a great start. I only wish I had started doing this earlier in my career.

Finally, I’ve discovered my passion for community work. This year I’ve become the leader of the Google Developers Group of Porto Alegre, reactivating it after a hiatus of almost 2 years. Also, I’ve created one of the first chapters of Women Who Go in Brazil, and was responsible for the very first Gophercon Brazil Diversity Scholarship.

Highlights of 2017

There were so many great moments in 2017, but I would like to highlight the top 5 just for the record.

My very first technical talk since my career reboot at Caipyra, a regional python event.
  1. The Gophercon Denver Women Who Go Diversity Scholarship: winning that scholarship was definitely my favorite moment in the entire year. I always dreamt of visiting the United States and I had the best time of my life. Gophercon is amazing, I loved the theme, the community, the people, the talks, the swag, the gophers… everything was perfect! It was also a defining moment for my career as after the event I decided to focus more and more in the Go language.
  2. Women Techmakers International Women’s Day Summit: I had the privilege of being invited to attend this summit at the Google’s São Paulo office. Visiting a Google office is an amazing experience every time, but this event was special. A hundred women were gathered together to see inspiring talks about successful women covering all types of careers in tech. Seeing such powerful women there, at all career levels, made me think about my own path and inspired me to be the activist I am today.
  3. Lesbians Who Tech London Summit: another summit full of powerful and inspiring women. I was invited by Facebook to attend and I must say that those were some of the most amazing girls I’ve met on the face of the Earth. It’s such an amazing thing to have this place where you can be yourself and feel proud about it. The feeling of looking around you and feel represented, included… the feeling of not being alone in the world. That’s the power of LWT. This summit had a deep influence on my decision to out myself as a transgender to the world. I felt I had to do my part, setting an example for other people and helping create that inclusive environment in the world out there, not just in those safe places.
  4. Gophercon Brazil: Another Gophercon made the top 5, that’s no coincidence. I really love this community. This time though I was on the other side of the table: instead of being a diversity scholarship receiver, I was the one coordinating the scholarship. And I did more than that: I was also a speaker and workshop instructor. It was the most demanding weekend of my entire career. But it was sooo rewarding. I love the work we did there. We managed to bring 5 girls that otherwise would not be able to attend the conference with our scholarship. I had the opportunity on my talk to speak about diversity and inclusion to the audience that really should be listening to this message… 250 people with 92% male presence. And on the last day, my workshop in collaboration with Ellen Korbes and special appearances by Francesc Campoy and Steve Francia was really really fun.
  5. Caipyra: a regional event focused on the python language, held in the city of Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil. It marked my first technical talk after my comeback to the software development career. It’s also one of my favorite events on the entire country. It has such an amazing aura around it… it’s hard to explain, but they leverage every bit of the local culture to have an event full of personality, almost like it has its own life. It’s a very unique experience and I really recommend it for everyone. Also, it’s very hard not to love the python community.
Speakers and staff of Gophercon Brazil

Looking forward: New Year’s resolutions

We shall not forget the tradition of establishing a few resolutions for the year that has just started. My top 5 objectives of 2018 are:

1. Speak at an international conference. I’ve never given a talk in English before, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to doing this year.

2. Become more technical. While I’ve managed to successfully develop my technical skills in 2017, I feel I’m still way behind from where I should be at my career level. 2017 was the kickstart of my current career and now in 2018 I need to keep evolving but more consistently than before as I have most of my personal issues figured out by now. This will also help achieving #1.

3. Reactivate my open source projects. I have a few personal open source projects that were put on hold during 2017 because I was dealing with so many life changes. Now it’s the time to get back to their development, especially the ones about healthcare informatics.

4. Make a major contribution to the Go language. In 2017 I did the contributor workshop at Gophercon Denver but I haven’t done much about it afterwards. I would like to save some time this year to make some serious contributions, just for fun.

5. Start an YouTube channel. I honestly don’t like to see myself on video, but I feel I need to overcome that. It would also be an opportunity for me to get better at speaking in English, another secondary objective for this year, while staying truthful to my mission of spreading knowledge.

Conclusions

I’ve started the last year in a really bad foot. The things in my personal life were preventing me to see the good things in the big picture. Now that the year is over, I look back and I see how many great, unexpected things, happened in my life. I have only gratitude in my heart, for everyone that supported me, for the folks at Globo.com that believed in myself even when I didn’t and for the amazing friends I’ve made on 3 different continents.

I had no perspective at the beginning of 2017 and did so much. I can’t help but wonder what kind of surprises 2018 will give to me, since now I’m way more prepared than before. As a bit of spoiler, I have already confirmed I’m attending Gophercon 2018 in Denver and the LWT Summit in San Francisco. So it seems everything started on the right foot this time!

Have a happy New Year!

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