2024 New Year's Resolutions!
New year, new me? Or business as usual? Like most people, I often consider the New Year as a clean start to make changes.
I was born and raised in Dundee, Scotland, a city that shaped much of who I am. Free education in Scotland opened doors for me, with my interest in computing leading me down the IT development path. But after years in the education system, I was itching to leap into the real world, craving real-world challenges and, frankly, some wages.
My journey into the professional world began with a nerve-wracking interview for a web development agency based in Dalgety Bay. Despite being green and self-admittedly out of my depth, I landed the job. The excitement was short-lived, though, as the daily commute from Dundee quickly became a draining 3-hour pain in the ass. This led to a significant decision to move closer to work.
Enter Kirkcaldy, a coastal town with its own rough-edged charm. It was a stark contrast to Dundee’s familiar streets, but it was here that my professional journey really began to take shape. For all its flaws, the town had its own kind of charm. Some of its redeeming features included the esplanade along the water, and the coastal trails connecting Kirkcaldy to other parts of Fife. Oh man, how I miss being near the open water. Living in Kirkcaldy had other perks too. It was nicely situated for us, with just a 40-minute drive separating us from the comforts of Dundee, our hometown, and a similar distance south-bound would see you in Edinburgh, the capital. Our life in Kirkcaldy was comfortable in its own right – we had a decent flat,decent jobs, and things were going fine. Sure, my road bike got stolen, and someone set my garage on fire, but that happens everywhere…. ri.. right?
Coastal path in Kircaldy
Despite the comfort professionally, I felt restless. Working in small teams at small companies, I often yearned for bigger challenges. There was always this lurking fear of job instability in the volatile start-up world, coupled with a curiosity about how things were done in bigger tech companies. Questions about their processes, technologies, and work culture often played in my mind. Despite my contentment with life in Kirkcaldy, part of me wondered what it would be like to step into a larger pond.
For a long time, I harboured a notion of living abroad. For reasons unknown, I always said I fancied a move to Norway, but it was mostly in jest. The idea was abstract, more of a distant thought than a concrete plan, however, it started to take on a more realistic shape when my brother left Scotland for Berlin. His move showed me that such a change was possible. Seeing him adapt to a new life in a different country inspired me and opened my eyes to the possibilities that lay beyond the island we lived on.
I didn’t immediately begin seeking out jobs in different countries, but when recruiters approached me with roles from afar, I gave them real consideration instead of dismissing them. Whether it was a role in England or Dubai, I was now open to the idea. My brother’s experience in Berlin not only piqued my curiosity about living elsewhere, but also nudged me toward seriously considering the great opportunities coming my way.
All these thoughts were swirling in my mind on that seemingly ordinary day of July 22nd, 2019. But at 13:43, everything took a turn. I received an InMail on LinkedIn from a recruiter with three roles in Berlin. Without much thought about the enormity of moving our lives to a new country, I found myself responding with interest and soon was in discussions with the recruiter over the phone.
Just a few days later, two companies expressed their interest in interviewing me. This is when reality began to sink in. Nerves and anxiety, companions I knew all too well, made their presence felt. It wasn’t just about facing the usual imposter syndrome; now, I was also concerned about communication barriers, like my accent. And then the looming question: what if this actually leads to moving to Berlin? The thought seemed daft, yet thrilling at the same time.
My first interview was with Billie, a company that, to be honest, wasn’t my first choice - it was a fintech company, and the word fintech alone bored me at the time. However, this somewhat eased the pressure. It allowed me to approach the interview with a more relaxed attitude. I thought to myself, ‘If it doesn’t work out, no big deal.’ But to my surprise, the interview altered my perspective entirely. I found myself genuinely liking the company, its vision, and the opportunity it represented. Here was a chance not just to live in a new city but also to challenge myself professionally in a more significant setup. Working in small teams had its charm, but the prospect of being part of a larger, more diverse group of developers was enticing. It was a step up from what I was used to and a leap towards addressing my imposter syndrome.
The very next day brought more good news: Billie was impressed with our initial conversation, and it was time for a technical test. This was my element. Solving an isolated problem, letting my work speak for itself - this was what I thrived on. It’s always a confidence boost when a company wants to continue the conversation after seeing my technical abilities in action.
Then came the scheduling of the third and final interview. This wasn’t about technical skills but rather about who I was as a person and whether I would fit into the company culture. Each interaction with the team made the role more appealing, and the reality that I might actually have to make a decision about moving was upon me. I felt positive about how the interview went, but it’s hard to gauge what’s on the minds of those on the other side of the screen. I anticipated a weekend of suspense, waiting for feedback. However, the unexpected happened - an offer came through just a few hours later on that Friday afternoon.
Hi Darren, thank you so much for all the interviews. We are happy that you are interested in joining Billie and believe it will be an exciting journey for all of us. Here is our offer to you:
Shite. I was staring at an offer that could catapult me not just into a new job, but into a whole new life. What on earth do I do now?