Shawn (Swyx) Wang joins us to discuss his book, The Coding Career Handbook 📖!

In this episode, you'll learn principles, strategies, and actionable tactics that will help you become a hireable junior developer. For everything else, there's Swyx's book, for which you can receive 30% off using special code, SRIMBA30.

Timestamps

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 1:37 When are you ready to apply for junior developer jobs?
  • 03:40 What is learning in public and why is it important?
  • 07:05 Learning in public is more selfish than alturistic
  • 09:56 How to start learning in public
  • 11:05 Preview of next week's episode 👀
  • 12:30 Introduce a learning exhaust
  • 15:00 The four gears of learning in public
  • 17:47 Why working in the open can be magnetic
  • 19:34 Teaching forces you to learn (and learn in depth)
  • 20.05 Should you apply to lots of companies or just a few you really like?
  • 22.44 How to get "lucky" more often
  • 25.55 Alex shares his experience with learning in public
  • 27:57 Swyx shares his experience learning in public

Transcript

Alex Booker:
Hey, coders, welcome to be Scrimba Podcast. This is a career-focused podcast, where every Tuesday I talk with inspiring developers to learn how they found success, and how you and other aspiring developers can too. Now, I once heard that the best way to succeed at a job interview is to have them know who you are before you walk through the door. Now, early on in your career, you're not going to be immediately recognizable. In fact, aiming for that would be a big distraction. But what I think is that you will benefit from having open source work, blog posts, and a social media presence on LinkedIn, for example. Now, companies can get a sense for your technical chops and dedication to always learning and improving before you walk through the door, almost greasing the wheels once you get there. And this is especially true for self-taught developers, where you don't have something like a computer science degree to get your foot in the door. This work that you do in public, essentially, could be your ticket to get in.

Alex Booker:
My guest today is Swyx, who truly exemplifies working and learning in public, such for you, increase your opportunities and improve your chance of success. Swyx has worked at some companies you probably recognize, like Netlify, Amazon Web Services, and currently Temporal.io. He's also the author of The Coding Career Handbook, a fantastic book for anybody who is aiming to go from being a aspiring code newbie to a hireable junior developer. For that book, which we discuss today, Swyx has generously offered a discount code for anybody who listens til the end. So, with that said, let's get into it. Hey, Swyx, welcome to the podcast.

Swyx:
Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be on here.

Alex Booker:
Your book is called The Coding Career Handbook, and it covers a broad spectrum of topics. I really was thinking hard about where to focus this interview. You talk about the phases of learning to code from code newbie, to job hunting, to becoming a senior developer and beyond. I figured a great place to focus today would be on that job hunting part of the coding career. But that begs a question, which is something that a lot of code newbies are probably wondering, when is someone ready to make the transition from code newbie to job hunting? How do they know they're ready to start looking for a job?

Swyx:
Oh, I think that you should always keep trying to job hunt. There'll never be a point where you're 100% ready. And if you wait til then, you're probably preventing yourself from finding some really great opportunities that you might be ready for, but you just had no idea. And part of the process of job hunting will give you information on what you need to improve on. Even if you don't make it the first few times, first 10 times, you could take the feedback that you get and the questions that you get, and go like, "Okay, these are the places that people are really emphasizing, and I know I'm weak on." And you just need to cross that hurdle.

Swyx:
So, when are you ready? Basically, I think, at least for front-end developers because that's what I historically have done, and I know that a lot of Scrimba people are front-end. When you can take a project from beginning to end, like shipping a site design and cloning that in your favorite framework or favorite static site generator, and pay attention to the details of figuring out what the box model in CSS is, and all the other standard interview questions that you might get. I think that's when you can start interviewing and then start paying attention to what people want out of you.

Alex Booker:
That's a great benchmark. I like that way of thinking about it a lot. And yeah, you mentioned in your book about cloning open source projects as a great way to learn. And if you can maybe attribute the project you're building to the original one, and then build on top of it, that's not only a great learning experience, but obviously something that can help you secure a job.

Alex Booker:
You're a big advocate for learning in public, I think. In fact, there's an entire chapter about it in your book. And I think you also have a free essay, which I'll link to in the show notes. Why is learning in public so important for people who are job hunting?

Swyx:
I think that it's a fundamental change to the way that you prove your interests and your skills. The traditional job hunt is done through, "Hey, I need a job now. I'm going to look at the available opportunities on a job board. And then I'm going to try to see if I fit the criteria that is offered." I apply. I try to serialize my experience down to a single page resume. By the way, try to do one page, most people don't have patience for more than one page. Unless you have decades of experience in the industry, you just do one page.

Swyx:
And then you hope that the other side has the decent realization algorithm to decode that, "Hey, you're actually someone worth interviewing." And a lot of people don't even make it past that stage. And then you show up for three to four interviews and hope that you do well enough in that four to five-hour window to pass and work with them for hopefully the next few years.

Swyx:
And I think that's a very weird funnel or a weird narrow waist in the whole relationship of your personal growth and the company's view of you. And I think it's just better if you can find a way to broadcast what your interests are, build your skills in public, have people follow along. And when they have something that's suitable for you, they come to you, instead of you going out to them.

Swyx:
The business world is very familiar with this. It's called the concept of inbound marketing rather than outbound, by creating content by sharing, "These are the things I'm an expert in." Or you're building expertise in, you're not necessarily an expert yet. But you're just building expertise. And as people come across things, they think of you. Because at the end of the day, all you need to do is just be first to mind on a particular topic, and people will naturally reach out to you. And that opens you up, actually.

Swyx:
There's a figure floating around that, like 80% of the jobs that exist out there, aren't actually formally advertised first. They just get sent out to friends, family, people already in the company. The only way you get those kinds of opportunities is by having some sort of reputation, and learning in public is the best way to achieve that.

Swyx:
The other thing that I think is underappreciated by people, people are very scared of, "Oh, what if my mistakes are out there, and people think that I'm an idiot and I'm exposed?" Everyone's been where you have been. You're not special in that way that you're especially bad at this. Everyone started out somewhere. As long as you show the capability of growth, that's actually an even better quality than just coming out of the womb knowing everything. So, I think some amount of humility and being able to diverse your identity from your work, like when people criticize your work or when you can step back and look at your past work and say, "Okay, it was bad for these reasons." That's how you know you've grown as a professional, as an individual.

Swyx:
And finally, I think that the feedback loop involved in learning in public is very important to me, in a sense that I will try my best to ship by a certain deadline, but I will ship so that I get feedback from other people. And that feedback fuels the next thing. And that helps you break the loop of just continually working on a side project and never shipping, which is a very familiar experience with a lot of developers. You try to reject perfectionism in favor of shipping and doing your best, and then iterating after you've shipped, based on the feedback that you get from other people. And people are incentivized because you respond to them, and if you're shown to be a good collaborator, then they will work with you in future projects as well. But also, once you've gotten something wrong in public, you'll never get it wrong again because it's so embarrassing.

Alex Booker:
So, learning in public isn't this altruistic thing where you're trying to help other people, it can actually be quite a competitive advantage. And you mentioned two types of feedback loops which I think are worth highlighting. The first is when you apply to jobs, when you're barely or not quite ready. Instead of guessing where you need to improve, you can actually take their advice onboard and apply it directly. But also, when you're learning in public, or showing your work is another way of describing of the great book about that, I think, which I'll link in the show notes too. You are inviting people to give you feedback.

Swyx:
Absolutely. I think the feedback loops are a key part of how I work. And it's actually not altruism. I think a lot of people, when they say they want to create content or they want to learn in public, they talk about how they want to give back to the community, the contribution is such a gift from God. And it's really not sometimes. I mean, sometimes it is. Sometimes, look, your contributions, as long as they help one person out there, it's very appreciated, right?

Swyx:
And sometimes it doesn't have to come from an expert, because they're so burdened by everything. Sometimes the best communicator of that knowledge is someone who just learned it, because you can remember how it was like to not have that. How often do you repeatedly give to charities? It's not that much. But you invest in yourself a lot more than you invest in charities. And I'm trying to make the case of this is sustainable because it helps you, and because it is genuinely the fastest way to learn. Rather than you're constantly taking time out of your day to give back to a community that may or may not appreciate it.

Swyx:
I try to push people away from measuring themselves by external validators, and thinking about internal goals, as well as more relationship-based contacts. A lot of the systems that are set up around us, like claps on Medium, or likes on Twitter, or followers on whatever social media, those are very external-facing things. And every time you put out something, you might be keen to judge the quality of that by the response that you get. And if you put out a stinker that just completely falls flat, you might stop. So, that's a very unsustainable strategy.

Swyx:
You need a strategy or personal growth strategy that transcends any lull in feedback. Obviously feedback is important, and that's how you know you're relevant as well as on the right track. But if you judge yourself by that too much, then you just get tied to the pressures of publication. It's like publish or perish, or the content grind as full-time content creators call it.

Swyx:
So, I definitely don't encourage that. I try to encourage more of a relationship-based or intrinsic motivational-based thing. Does it help a key person that you have in mind? Or does it help you solve something that you've been struggling with for a long time? And if it does that job, that's a more attainable goal because it's more within your control, than what 1,000 people think of you.

Alex Booker:
I want to come back to this in just a minute, because measuring your success when learning in public is actually kind of tricky, because if you look at Retweets and likes and stuff, it's kind of a vanity metric, it might not actually be helping you towards your objective. But, before we do that, I think it would be helpful to talk about some practical, actionable ideas that someone listening can do to start learning in public.

Swyx:
The prototypical action is to write. Is to write tutorials, is to write blog posts. Just basically try to write for yourself like three months ago, right? Don't try to establish thought leadership and publish the great American novel or break the industry. You'll get there. Just warm up first.

Swyx:
As you have that regular writing habit, you figure out the stuff that you're good at, and the stuff that other people are interested in. So, this is something I call in my book "the nexus of interest." Understanding where you can be relevant to other people's interests is probably a skill that just needs to be developed over time. If you focus too much on others, then you will be very burnt out, because there's nothing internally that's keeping you going. And if you focus too much on yourself, then no one else externally has any incentive to care what you say. So, you need to balance it a little bit with a bit of your self intersection with others. That's definitely a balancing line that sometimes I miss it and sometimes I really nail it, and it's really wonderful and gratifying when you nail it.

Alex Booker:
Coming up in just a minute, what is a learning exhaust, and how can you omit one? Is learning in public altruistic? And does learning in public mean becoming a full-time content creator with not much coding skill, but lots of likes?

Swyx:
Learning is best when it's informed by you actually trying to do things, not trying to get likes. And people can really smell when you are just trying to be a full-time influencer.

Alex Booker:
That's coming up. I just wanted to ask if you would do us a favor. If you enjoy this Scrimba Podcast, please recommend it to your friends or family. Word of mouth is the single best way to support a podcast that you like. So, thanks in advance. Coming up next time on the Scrimba Podcast, Kent C. Dodds joins me to talk about going from zero to 60 in your career as a developer.

Kent C. Dodds:
Everybody is limited on the amount of time that you have, and there's no shortcut to experience. Everybody has 24 hours in the day, you have to sleep hopefully like seven to eight hours of that. Your ability to make that leap from totally beginner to experienced developer is highly dependent on what you do with that time. Like I said, the fact is, there's no shortcut to experience, you have to put the time in, but there are different things you can do with that time that can give you a better return on that investment of time.

Alex Booker:
You can look forward to that next Tuesday on the Scrimba Podcast, just make sure you subscribe so you see it in your feed. Back to the interview with Swyx. There's one idea in your book which I think is fascinating, which is this idea of having a learning exhaust. So, as you're learning the things you are intending to learn to get your job or find success, you should be leaving a trail in terms of if you learn something you can maybe Tweet for 100 days of code. Maybe one step further could be to write a tutorial to solidify what you learned.

Alex Booker:
I think it can be tempting for someone to confuse learning to code and learning to public, with becoming a full-time content creator, which maybe five, six, 10 years ago, it wasn't a full-time job. But now there are a lot of people on Twitter we look up to whose only job is to create content. And when you look at that, it can be quite daunting because you're actually trying to learn to code.

Swyx:
Yeah. And it can be pretty empty as well if all you're doing is trying to get imaginary internet points up on a internet platform. Learning is best when it's informed by you actually trying to do things, not trying to get likes. And people can really smell when you are just trying to be a full-time influencer. Sometimes it works. I think definitely the numbers will skew accordingly that way. But you are selling yourself out in a certain way. And the people who look through authenticity will really detect that.

Swyx:
And ultimately, how many people are you really going to work with in your life? Maybe, probably, under like 500, let's call it that, right? You don't actually need that wide of a base. You just need a very strong relationship with high quality people that you have a really fulfilling time working with. So, the people who aim for hundreds of thousands and millions of followers, these are just faceless masses that you'll never meet, and they can't bother you anyway. Don't optimize for the lowest common denominator content, because they're not going to add materially to your life in any sense.

Swyx:
I definitely try to correct against this full-time creator bias, and try to encourage people to work on real projects. In fact, as much as I'm known for learning in public, I have another chapter which people don't talk about called learning in private. And the first thing it says in there is, "Most of the time you should not be learning in public." And that's true, because if you're... Nobody wants to see you livestream every second of your day, they just want to see the best "Aha moments" and the "Today I learneds." And that, you can definitely provide as learning exhaust.

Swyx:
I just want to make it as automatic as breathing. You don't really think to breathe. Well, now you do because I just talked about it. But when you learn something, your automatic reaction is to note it down somewhere for yourself, for other people who are following along on your journey. And that's what I talk about in terms of learning exhaust. And this is borrowed from a TED Talk that I saw on creative exhaust, which is a similar concept for designers and artists.

Swyx:
We talked a little bit about forms of learning in public. So, I think blog posts and Tweets and stuff like that are really low engagement forums. There are four types of learning gears. This is another concept which I talk about in the book. And that's a very low-level gear of exploring, right? You're not really committed to any direction yet, and you're just kind of blogging out as you go along. It's more for yourself than for other people.

Swyx:
But if you want, so you can kick it up a notch to other gears. Connectors are people who try to connect different domains and try to connect ideas. So, you start putting out more polished pieces of content, like tutorials and cheat sheets and workshops and talks. And these are longer-term commitments, on the order of weeks and months, where you build something that's a lot more polished and a lot more condensed, to give real value for people who are coming across the topic for the first time.

Swyx:
And that is not something where you're learning as you go. That's something where you sum up everything that you've learned and you present it in a more polished form. And that polish actually matters a lot for people who are confused by all the nuance and the false starts sometimes. Sometimes you think you've learned something, you go down one direction and you're like, "Oh no, I have to go back." The polish is where you cut off all that, all those false starts, and you present a smooth path, just kind of how Scrimba presents the smooth career path, right? In reality, it's never as easy or as well-defined as that. But because by defining it for other people, you provide some kind of blessed learning path that other people can at least base their journeys off of. And that's very powerful as well.

Swyx:
The highest form, or the highest gear, which I tend to drive people towards, is this minor gear, where you struck gold and you're just digging deeper and deeper into that topic that you know is valuable to other people. Instead of having to put yourself out there, I don't have to show up on podcasts anymore, I don't have to apply to speak at a conference. People will come to join you because they believe in your mission, and you are doing something that no one else is doing.

Swyx:
So, I really look up to people like the builders, the people who founded [inaudible 00:16:54] co-founder, the people who start open source frameworks like Evan You of Vue.js. These are people who are just building their thing and everyone comes out to help them. So, it's a form of learning in public that is just very mission-driven, and no longer very broad. You could be doing 1,000 other things, and you probably could be making more money doing other things too, but you're just so driven and so keen on building and making this idea into reality, that you just drop everything to do this one thing.

Swyx:
I've just drawn a path from this extreme breadth, where you go a mile wide and an inch deep as an explorer, and you can sort of step it up eventually as you narrow in on what you're focused on, into a miner where you just have found the thing that you want to be known for for your entire career, and just do that, and be that person and be that expert in the world that everyone looks to.

Alex Booker:
If I'm hearing you correctly, you're saying that there are different ways of learning in public, for sure. Maybe there's even a middle ground. I've seen a lot of GitHub repositories, which are like, "Today, I learned", or, "GitHub cheat sheets" or something. This could be a project that you're building, learning while you're building it, and now, other people can see it, they jump onboard. And perhaps there's no clear path and there's no obvious answer, but if you start to look at this broad range of gears, you can start to engage different gears and learn in public very effectively.

Swyx:
The reason I call it gears is a values neutral thing. It's not that one gear is better than the other, it's just that they're better suited to different slopes that you're on. If you're on a very shallow, flat slope, then go to gear one. But if you're on a very steep slope, then go to get four.

Alex Booker:
Do you drive a manual car, Swyx?

Swyx:
I did learn how to drive a manual car, but this is more thinking about bicycles.

Alex Booker:
Oh, bicycles. Yeah, fair enough.

Swyx:
But no, I actually, so one of my ways to really ramp up on React and TypeScript was that I started my own cheat sheets called the React and TypeScript Cheat Sheets, and then that's up on GitHub. And yeah, I teach 1,000 people a day, React and TypeScript, from all sorts of places like Uber, Microsoft and Airbnb. And they've taught me as well, because when they find things that were wrong or that were missing, they just PRed that in, and I learn as a result of the process.

Swyx:
This is the concept that I call Open Source Knowledge, which is yet another chapter, where a lot of times we keep our knowledge to ourselves. We have our own notes. If we're lucky enough to have notes, a lot of times it's just kept in our heads. But if you open source it and let people contribute, you can grow as a result of everyone who's going through the same notes that you are. So, I really encourage people to try that, once they're comfortable with the early blogging phase, to just so many other forums which are very rewarding to do.

Alex Booker:
And there are so many options. You just reminded me in a roundabout way about if you put yourself out there to give a conference talk, for example, even on a subject you know reasonably well, when the reality kicks in that you're about to explain it to tens if not 100 people, you really double down and reinforce what you've been learning, and it just helps you understand better. Then you give the presentation, then there are people in the audience who come and ask you questions afterwards. All these things enable so many great opportunities in your career, it's so much more effective than just going in the front door, essentially, with a CV that gets passed by an application tracking system or something.

Swyx:
The vast majority of people are going to go through the front door, and that's okay. That's not a problem. But it doesn't hurt.

Alex Booker:
Can you talk about that? Because I've often heard as I've spoke to different experts and different people in the community, some people are very keen on going broad and say, "Apply to a bunch of jobs. Find a bunch of companies, send out a bunch of resumes. The dream company you end up working for, you might never have even thought to work for." Other people are like, "No, no, don't take the shotgun approach, pull out the sniper, find a specific job and find a creative way to get in the backdoor. Engage with the hiring manager on LinkedIn or something, or the direct manager."

Swyx:
I don't think that there is one best for everyone on earth. So, I do think that some people in some situations should go for the shotgun, and some others should go for the sniper. I'm definitely personally more on the sniper side, but that doesn't mean that I think that everyone should do that. So, when I came out of my bootcamp, I applied to only nine companies, and I got three or four offers, and I took one. Ultimately, at the end of the day, you only need one.

Swyx:
The problem with this idea is that people kind of treat that as a numbers game, air quotes, this is literal what they say, it's a numbers game. So, if you apply to more companies, you have a higher chance of getting one job. The problem with that is, once you land a job, you may not like it as much, just because you don't know as much about the company. You're just desperate for any job out there.

Swyx:
So, I think it's better... You have a higher chance of getting the job if you're less tired from flying so much, as well as you have a strong reason for why you want to join, so that when they ask you in the interview, you have a clear reason, instead of, "I don't know, you were one of 200 companies that I applied to." You do need to get your start somewhere. And I will never disrespect that process, because these people put in so much effort to do that, and that's what worked for them. I'm not in their shoes, and I don't know if my way would have worked for them.

Alex Booker:
You wrote in your book your goal is to have fewer companies to apply to, but to have really freaking good reasons for each company because you've done your homework.

Swyx:
Yeah, I mean, that's my approach, right? So, I definitely have a strong bias towards the focused approach to job application. And this is what makes sense to me because I like getting to know the company that I work for and just believing in the work that I do. A job isn't just a job to me. A job is being part of a bigger story of the company. And the job also plays a bigger part of the story in my own career. Does this help me get to somewhere I could see myself being? I'm not just a robot for hire. I'm not just a random code monkey. I want to build some expertise in companies that I believe will do well as well. But I think [inaudible 00:22:34] with many folks, right? When you get into a career advice industry, as I have, I think there's some amount of responsibility to acknowledge that your way is not necessarily the only way. And so, I definitely try to do that.

Alex Booker:
One thing you wrote about in your book, which I found to be very interesting, is about luck, and how people can create their own luck.

Swyx:
Yes. Thank you for Tweeting that, by the way, that's one of my favorite breakthroughs in my journey.

Alex Booker:
I love the illustration. And actually, it's something I've believed in for a long time. When hard work meets opportunity, great things happen. When the opportunity comes, you need to be ready to take it, you must've done the preparation, but you also need to have a positive outlook and attitude to see these things.

Swyx:
So, this is in the bonus chapter. So, when I originally wrote the book, I actually planned out 50 chapters. I realized that that was ridiculous. So, I had to cut it down to size. And the chapters that I cut out were more about concepts. So, the book is structured in terms of principles, strategies, and tactics for your career. But some concepts I think are just transcendent of all of those things.

Swyx:
And this concept of luck is success-driven by skill or luck. This is a very abstract thing, but there is actually a philosophy and a literature of luck, which I think is pretty mind blowing to people when they first come across it. In a sense that when you look at other people that you know, some of them are very successful and you're like, "Oh, they just got lucky." And then others, they seem to work hard and they get their just desserts or whatever.

Swyx:
What really broke through for me was reading this essay by Marc Andreessen where he identified the four kinds of luck. And so, the first kind is blind luck, you're born with it or you're born without it. And there's nothing you can do about it, so accept your lot in life. It's a lot-like privilege, right? So, that definitely exists. If you believe that that's the only thing that determines your outcomes in life, then you might as well just sit back and you have no free will, right? What's the point?

Swyx:
So, the second type of luck is more of a active form of luck. It's this idea that the more you do, and the more you tell people what you do, the more luck can come to you, right? Because people will have a higher chance of knowing about you, and luckier things have a higher chance of happening to you, just because you do more than the average person, you cover more ground, so you're more likely to find gold.

Swyx:
The third philosophy, I think, I don't remember what I called it anymore. I think it's the Alexander Fleming kind of luck, where you have prepared all your life to look out for... You have primed yourself to look out for key problems. And when lucky things happen to you, you can notice them, when the average person would not. Alexander Fleming, when he discovered penicillin, apparently there was nine years of history preceding that. And that was a result of just a lot of prepared luck by having done the research into this, to notice that when that freak accident of molds happening in this Petri dish, showing that it had ways of killing bacteria, he was one of the few people in the world who could have noticed that that was something worth investigating, and he followed up on it.

Swyx:
And then the last thing is very similar to the minor learning gear, which is magnetic luck, when you're working on something so compelling that people are drawn to you and luck becomes your destiny. There's very few examples of this, just because you have to be very fortunate to find it in the first place. But when you have a purpose that other people really believe in and needs to happen, you can find that luck comes to you because people want to send it your way, essentially. It just feels like you're working on something that needs to happen and therefore the universe conspires to help you do it.

Alex Booker:
Absolutely. I think if I was to relate that to my personal experience, I wanted to be a developer. I wanted to be a great developer. And while I was learning to code, I made a lot of YouTube videos to learn in public. In fact, Swyx, the first videos I made, I had one monitor with some code, and on the other monitor I was just copying it, glancing at both monitors, because I thought that's how you coded. I thought you just had to memorize code, and I thought doing the videos would drill it to memory.

Alex Booker:
Anyway, it stuck, and I got a bit better at explaining code. And when I then heard a podcast episode about developer advocacy and developer relations, I was like, "Oh, maybe that's going to work for me because I'm already doing some content creation." Put that in the back of my head. And then I was always talking to people on Twitter, sharing my projects, following people I thought were interesting. And one day this guy Tweeted about a job opportunity who I'd just by chance previously connected with. And so, I reached out and took a chance on a little bit of freelance work, and then they invited me to do a full-time interview much later.

Alex Booker:
But I definitely feel like I could have said, "Oh, it's lucky that I'd connected with that person. It's lucky that I saw the Tweets because I might've been away that day or something like that." But I really feel like I was maximizing my opportunity by doing all these things. After I left that company, that startup, one of our products was a chat API product. By complete chance I was on Upwork looking to do some freelance content creation.

Alex Booker:
By the way, for anybody listening, you can get paid 200, $400 per article if you want to create coding tutorials for someone else. I've hired many people to do that, and I would like more people to choose from. It's definitely worth doing if you don't know already. But I thought, "Yeah. I can do that. I can make some tutorials."

Alex Booker:
And the first person who replied to me, and the only person who replied to me, was the founder of a chat API product, who wanted to then hire me to come on and do more marketing stuff. But it just seems so serendipitous and so crazy and random, but I truly believe that you can make your own luck by making the most of the opportunities presented to you. And so, Swyx, to kind of close the episode out, maybe you could tell us a story about one time you felt lucky, but really you made your own luck.

Swyx:
I'll talk about what I'm doing now, my day job, which is I'm head of developer experience at Temporal.io. It is a very different kind of company that I have historically worked at. I previously worked at Netlify and AWS, [inaudible 00:28:09] Microservices Orchestration company, and what the hell am I doing there?

Swyx:
The reality of it is when I worked at Netlify, we started to dive a little bit into the serverless space. And I was trying to think about how I could build the apps that I saw out there in this serverless world. And that's a very new programming paradigm that people are still trying to get used to. And I realized that we just simply did not have the tools. As much as people are breathlessly excited about serverless, it's just not as good as the serverfull world at some of these long-running jobs.

Swyx:
So, I said like, "Okay..." Basically, we were promised the promise land of serverless, and people were very excited about it. But the reality of it is that the experience is not as good as what we had before. And the anchor point that I had was, DHH, the founder of Rails, when he did his Rails demo, that really changed web development. He did that 15 years ago, where he set up a site in 15 minutes with all the server side validation logic. And I said that, "Essentially, we had that 15 years ago. And if you tried to do that now on serverless, you could not do that in the same amount of time, and there'd be a lot more heavy debugging that's needed." And where have we gone wrong, essentially.

Swyx:
So, I wrote this blog post that I was very scared to write because I was not qualified to talk about distributed systems. I was not qualified to talk about back-end. I was only a front-end developer advocate at the time. But I said, "Hey, there's just something missing in this disconnected microservices and serverless world." But what I called it was Reassembling the Monolith. We broke apart the monolith and we got scalability as a benefit, but we lost all these things. How do we reconstitute all of that stuff?

Swyx:
And essentially, that started off a debate in the comments. So, I was so scared to post this to the blog post, I posted it as a GitHub Gist away from my main blog, and just said, "This is something I'm thinking about." I don't know. I'm just like, "This is something I'm really kind of working through, and I'm not ready to post this in blog posts, but I'm going to share it anyway." Because learning exhaust, right?

Swyx:
I shared it, and people commented in the GitHub Gist, one guy had really strong opinions about that. And one of the VCs who was reading through also read his comments and said, "Hey, there's a company called Temporal.io that's kind of working on this exact problem. You guys just haven't got there yet. You'll get there after about 10 years of work experience in this industry." So, they hired him as the head of product for Temporal, and he turned around and hired me.

Swyx:
And so, the long and short of it is that one blog post, one draft blog post, turned into two jobs, that has resulted in my first management experience ever, broke me out of AWS, which is a very hard decision for me to leave Amazon. But it gave me an opportunity which was not publicly listed, I could never have considered myself qualified for, and I think it's going to be a rocket ship that's going to make me a millionaire. And also, change back-end development, not in the same necessary order.

Swyx:
But I think when you're right at the edge of your abilities on the most interesting problems, then people who resonate with that will find you, and opportunities associated to that will come your way, if you choose to accept it. I could have easily said no to that and just gone on with my regular career path. But I think taking this path and doing this learn in public and creating my own luck, helped me knock myself into a different career path, which I'm very privileged to be in. I don't know what the result of it will be. It could be a massive failure. Check with me in five years. But I do think that I have a more interesting life, for sure, as a result of it. And at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for, right?

Alex Booker:
Swyx, what a wonderful story to end on. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Swyx:
Thanks so much, Alex, thanks for having me on. This was a great discussion. And thank you for sharing about the book. It's not an easy book to get through, I'll grant that. But I had no idea... This is my first time writing something like that, so I'm just grateful for anyone who checks it out, and I'm grateful for the community that's formed around it.

Alex Booker:
That was Swyx, head of developer experience at Temporal.io, and the author of The Coding Career Handbook. As promised, to get 30% off Swyx's book, find the link in the show notes and use the code SCRIMBA30, that's Scrimba three, zero, no spaces.

Alex Booker:
Coming up next time on the Scrimba Podcast, Kent C. Dodds joins me to talk about going from zero to 60 in your career as a developer. That's next Tuesday on the Scrimba Podcast. Until then, keep coding. This episode was edited by [inaudible 00:32:33], and I'm your host, Alex Booker. You can follow me on Twitter @BookerCodes, where I share highlights from the podcast and other news by Scrimba. See you next week.