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RailsConf 2019 - UserMailer.with(user: myself).life_advice.deliver(5.years.ago)... by David McDonald

David McDonald
Backend Lead Engineer at Weedmaps
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RailsConf 2019
May 1, 2019, Minneapolis, USA
RailsConf 2019
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About speaker

David McDonald
Backend Lead Engineer at Weedmaps

I'm a Software Engineer who specializes in helping others make a place for themselves on the web.

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RailsConf 2019 - UserMailer.with(user: myself).life_advice.deliver(5.years.ago)

Some Tips and Encouragement for Newcomers by David McDonald


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So I never know how these conferences are going to go like what I want to walk away with. I guess this year. I've walked away with a lot about remote work and kind of come to realize just how dominant my cousin in the market, you know, some of yours, I'll always see what's going to be talked about but you never really know what's going to strike with you. But there's one thing that's certain you're going to feel inspired and you're going to be equally discouraged Inspire because you're going to meet a lot of amazing people you're going to hear amazing things learn new things but a little

discouraged because it's overwhelming information and for me that kind of triggers my imposter syndrome. I've been thinking about onboarding a lot lately. That's kind of been one of my roles of late I Weedmaps and when you do that you kind of go back to when you are new at a company when you were new as a developer when you were new high school things like that putting yourself in another person's shoes in this way helps you and in that kind of a process being the mentor being the person to go to person the point person. So I'm coming to this talk

and I'm getting this opportunity to speak for a few minutes. I got to thinking about when I was a junior developer and come into my first conference and the discouragement that I see a lot of inspiration but the discouragement that I thought was a little bit more pronounced I'd say So I'd like to address this talk to my previous self. Don't come to me with like that's not the API for active male or something. I just hoping that simply hearing some of these words from somebody on the stage like six feet off the ground will resonate with some newcomers to the

community and hopefully make a few people feel more included a little bit like hey, there's a guy up there now he is so if you're a junior developer, this is for you. This is not like a core article of like how to be a K'NEX rock star instead what follows are like some things. I wish someone would have said when I was brand new. So, let's see what our time traveling. User mailer has to say for our previous two more Junior self. I'm always feel really qualified to speak on it is my experience.

So you're going to have to indulge mean you're not learned a lot about me. I've worked a lot of jobs that work in kitchens. I've knocked doors. I clean toilets that clean dishes at work to the pharmaceutical clerk. Do you know your typical Millennial today? I'm an engineer Weedmaps. I work principally on the back end. We have a real API that it back by Logic search for real spy that if you are interested in learning about how that works Alex rescator great talk today, so you can check it out and come freaks afterwards. Before that when I was much younger

I decided I was going to move in France. So I did that in total. I spent over five years there. While I was there, I taught English. I was an English tutor for wealthy people in private schools. I assisted photographers. I work in a photo studio work on movies. I'm so is a pretty cool experience. It was actually in trying to edit a photo portfolio website that I first touched code. It was one of those like bespoke PHP CMS has you go in there and like throw some images gallery and

someone I was with couldn't figure out how to get things working as like all look at it and like oh, what is this PHP start Googling stuff and it was over from there. Eventually that I kind of realized that I can only build so many static website by watching YouTube and I really wanted to join the team. This is the thing I wanted to do now. So this experience of immersing myself? in a completely different culture as you can imagine taught me a lot. I had studied French a little bit in high school when it's 14 that's obviously a whole different ballgame. I didn't speak any french

when I moved over there though, so I can kind of showed up. I need some expats people that did speak English with me and things but I obviously wanted to learn and they couldn't really teach me. I knew I needed to kind of stick my neck out there a little bit, but I was scared to make mistakes. prices from time like go to the North End of Boston, you know where you can go to these authentic Italian restaurants in order to look up a few phrases 250 how far you can go you go off like maybe 10 seconds before the waiter says something to you. They don't understand you.

Okay, let's go back to English country where they really don't speak English very well. It's your kind of just left out there to figure things out and it's a pretty embarrassing humbling experience. So when I moved over there, this is kind of how it went for a 6 months. I wake up I study cuz I was horrified of making a mistake I go outside and make a lot of mistakes. I get made fun of condescended to you probably heard the the stigma that French aren't the biggest sweetheart. So they have no problem correcting you and telling you that you're not that bright and

they're doing it wrong. That's why we love them. But I'm doing that for 6 months. If you can you burn out pretty quickly you kind of realized that this can't go on forever. So I had to trick I told myself was to stop making mistakes, but I just couldn't do it. I honestly thought I was just going to flame out one day. I might have weird little nightmares about going out and then barely see myself telling someone, you know, I'm trying to talk about love and really talking about death. Just what kinds of things over time it did get easier but the

mistakes kept creeping Out and because I was getting more more fluent when the mistakes happen. They were even more embarrassing and impactful eventually. I started dreaming in French though. I would spend whole days even weeks not speaking a word of English and I think in French, so There came a point that I guess a turning point where I accepted that I never be free from this mistake. Eventually, I became fluent enough to getting a job with no problem reading the news going to parties. I

moved home. I got a French degree and it came away convinced that first of all immersion is the most effective way to learn a language, but I also learned that I needed to reframe the way I thought about mistake. So anyone that's learned a foreign language knows this in order to learn the language you at the Mega Millions of mistakes and you have to rip that Band-Aid off its on there. And you can either do it right away just go out there and bury yourself get over it make those mistakes or you can do over the course of years. Either way. It's coming off or you just won't learn it

affected. This was a stoic philosopher. He was born a slave and was of the mindset that philosophy was something that was to be lived. It wasn't just a theoretical thing is well-known stoic philosopher. This is probably one of his better now on quotes up there. It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. So I kind of tweaked it for our purposes not that you made a mistake, but how you react to it that matters. So I learned to accept my mistakes as inevitable and as Rich learning experiences and that was a turning point for me. I started to

lean into these moments of like I did it again, but I'm never going to forget this emotional memory I have in this moment and going forward. I'm not going to make that mistake again and I can kind of smell it before it comes to me. When I began working at the junior developer and a team shortly after moving back to the United States. I was quickly hurled into a very familiar situation. Where is making tons of obvious and embarrassing mistakes? Because I delivered this talk to myself in the future. We're past this time. I was ready for it.

So advice for my previous more Junior self is to not allow your mistakes to defeat you. Batam, batam shape you you always make them, but you can control your relationship with them. And one day you'll be sitting at the Do Not Go ordering a coffee and the waiter will mistake your accent for sweet and you'll die and go to the hall or whatever. Suncoast by saying this I assume that if you're here and if you're listening to this or they're listening to this,

you know how compelling this career is. Some of you have noticed how difficult it can be learning to read and write code is probably one of the easiest things we do and this is a team sport, right? We work together to do software and embarrassing mistakes are going to happen and they're going to happen more often for a newcomer. so discontinuous as well whenever you gave me responsibility, so you become a team lead or manager. So you change the gods text back. Without proper expectations, you're going to flame out

due to this way makeup what can be viewed as a very discouraging industry imposter syndrome and anxiety are endemic the programmers and inclusivity remains a real issue. And these challenges are only stiffer for those are underrepresented groups. So if anything I hope this talk help someone out there not beer making mistakes and I'll blow them down but kind of lean into them and hopefully seniors can be a little bit more introspective and get the itch to be mentors and themselves not be afraid to make mistakes in front of more Junior programmers and when they notice someone may be

struggling with something or afraid to stick their neck out there. They could be more encouraging. The point is that none of us are alone when it comes to making a mistake. So younger self learn embrace the problems presented to you without fear. Industry needs you and wants to hear. I think you are we having a party. If you go to realcomp.com parties register come have a drink with us. Love to get to know you.

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