Last week was my last week at WebDevStudios. I was working on the support side of the house in the Maintainn sub division of the company. The role was considered a support engineer role but most of the time it was new development for smaller to medium sized clients. When I originally applied it was for a backend developer position as that’s where most of my experience is. At my last job I let my skills get a little rusty and didn’t keep up with things like Git, OOP, Composer, CI style deployments, etc. So I felt like I needed to take a step back and learn some of this new tech to get myself up to speed.
I dove right in. The first thing on the list to learn was OOP. I started taking as many courses as I could right off the bat. While I was doing this I was also getting familiar with git and composer which were both very new to me. At the old job I was the only developer most of the time and no one was really pushing innovation. Something I could kick myself for now. My only regret is not learning some of these technologies sooner. But to be honest, I never saw my self as an engineer. I was just someone who you could give a technical problem and I could solve it. I never even meant to become a programmer. But the sites I wanted to exist required custom work that I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do so I learned to do it myself.
But it turns out I really love software engineering. I always have, I just didn’t realize it until I worked with a team of engineers who should me what it could look like. WebDevStudios/Maintainn has an amazing talent pool from top to bottom. It’s a real brain trust and if you ask me the, companies greatest asset. They also cultivated an awesome culture that included a very big focus on continuing education, knowledge sharing and helping each other level up. I was there for just over two years and I have no doubt in my mind that’s more like 5-6 years in normal dev time. There was no hesitation to learn new tools or tech. More than that the engineering team pushed to use the latest and greatest tech where it made sense. It wasn’t one of those cases where people were just using new things just because it’s new. Serious thought want into what our tech stack looked like. And nobody was precious about any tool or project. If it made sense to try something new that’s exactly what we did. WDS is consonantally pushing the envelope when it comes to engineering. I learned so much from everyone in a very short time and it was amazing. I still miss meeting with my fellow engineers and sharing ideas and knowledge on a regular basis. It was a dream to work with so many smart people and absorb some amount of their shared knowledge. I’ll always be grateful for my time there.
But it wasn’t all peaches. And this is no fault fo the company itself. It’s just the nature of agency work. And anyone who works in the business knows there’s a lot of churn. It’s not for everyone. And even if it is for you it may not be that way forever. After my heart attack back in December I started thinking about my priorities. What did I want out of work, life, etc? I started realizing I was very burned out at work. Racing timers is more stressful than I thought it would be. I tend to shrug off stress like that but after a while I was getting to me and I hadn’t noticed. Because of my nature I started putting off working out in favor of putting in extra hours researching for the next day’s work. Having so many clients felt like having multiple bosses and the nature of the work is that they really don’t contact you unless something is broken and they usually aren’t happy. I was really fortunate that many of the clients I had were super easy to work with and just a wonderful experience. But anyone who’s worked in this business knows it just takes a couple of assholes to make your life hell. Towards the end when I was at peak burnout I had one client really go out of their way to be pretty crappy on a regular basis. I had to listen to this person go after one of their own co-workers so hard that I almost had to step in and say something.
During this time I had been spending some time with a local friend that I met through my old boss and we would get together and have some bourbon and talk about code and engineering. Grant really knows his shit and I’ve always wanted to work on something with him and he started a new job several months ago and he was their first tech hire. They’ve been rapidly expanding and the need for even more technology solutions came up and he reached out to me to see if I wanted to join the team. I was already thinking about making a change and was thinking I would figure out what that looked like sometime in early 2021. But Grant introduced me to his boss and we had a couple of conversations and I liked what they were trying to do and the culture really clicked and even reminded me of the best parts of working at WDS/Maintainn. A few weeks went by and I thought maybe they decided to go another way and so I focused on work and figured I’d stick with my plan of figuring out what’s next in early 20201.
But then Grant reached out again and said they were ready to move forward. After some quick interviews I had and offer and a decision to make. I talked to my wife Erin and we weighed the options and I realized it was time time to move on. I absolutely loved my time at WDS/Maintainn but my passion was being able to work on something deeply and have a bigger role in how things are done. At the new job my official title is Shopify App Developer but I’ll be the primary lead on the DevOps side of things which I absolutely love. I have a strong background managing everything from email down to a bare metal box and everything in between. I started last week and I’m already deep into learning the AWS stack to create our micro services need to scale the company up to enterprise level and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll also be writing code in Laravel using Elastic Search to create a custom search engine as well as working with our agency partners to help get all the tech we need launched as quickly as possible.
The company is already doing really well and the growth plan is aggressive to say the least. I’m so fucking excited to be helping grow the engineering department. We are already thinking ahead to what needs to be in place to onboard new engineers and grow the department to where it needs to be. I’m in way over my head and feverous about the enormous scale we are dealing with and I couldn’t be more excited. This is exactly where I want to be, outside my comfort zone. I’d rather be punching above my weight class any day of the week.
I’m definitely going to miss the family at WDS/Maintainn. Everyone was amazing and I can’t stress enough how inspiring it was to get to talk to smart people like that on a daily basis. After a week at the new job I equally excited about what the future has in store. I’ve only scratched the surface but I’m buzzing with anticipation and what the future holds at Blue Summit Supplies. I know we are going to do some very cool shit and I can’t wait to share more of that with everyone.
I’ve had a few people ask if this means I’m done with WordPress as the new role is more DevOps / Shopify / Laravel focused. No! I love WordPress. I’ve used it since it was B4/Cafelog and I have no plans of stopping using it. But I’ve never been tied to one tool. I’ve always been of the mind that the right tool for job makes the most sense to me. That’s one thing I didn’t love about working for an agency that was 100% WordPress. There were a number of times that my gut told me that a simple php solution was the way to go, but that’s just how it is sometimes and by no means a knock against them.
I’m super excited about what comes next and can’t wait to share more of what we are doing when I can. I wish WDS/Maintainn nothing but success and I miss the team tremendously. But I’m also super exited about this new chapter! More on that once I’ve been here a little longer. Stay tuned.
What a great post and perspective; I think I speak for almost all of us at WDS when I say we miss you but also wish you the best. Definitely miss you on the weekly BEE scrums.