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  • CNgai

Two-flect: A 2 Year Anniversary and reflection

Updated: Aug 8, 2021

Intention: In honor of my full-time start date July 29, 2019 at PayPal, I thought it'd be great to take some time and reflect on what I've learned especially during this past career year. This is in hopes of making connections to seeds that have been planted even more than a year ago.

A tip for a promotion is to start doing what the next level requires. Find ways to make your manager's life easier.

During my internship time at PayPal during Summer 2018, I had a 1:1 with Wes H. who gave me this valuable advice. As I was learning more about the PayPal Credit ecosystem, I also observed what other SWE 2's were doing and worked to adopt the positive techniques into my coding practice.

In February 2021, I got promoted to Software Engineer 2 as a fruit of hard work + already performing at an SWE 2 while I was an SWE 1, guidance from my manager, Priyanka S., and modeling the great examples that I've had along the way which include teammates, coworkers, and other leaders.

One thing I learned, is that it's important to document your findings. An example is that my team was new to GraphQL and we were going to be creating a GraphQL service for a project we're helping with. I took it upon myself to be the frontrunner and understand how to get the service up and running. I documented the steps I took so that my teammates could follow and it would save time if any of us ran into the same problems. In addition, if my teammates came across any new problems, they could document their solutions as well.

You can be a leader without having to be in a management position.

I took a Dale Carnegie Develop Your Leadership Potential: Stop Doing, Start Leading course in November 2020 and it helped me realize that each person has the ability to make an impact and a positive influence on others regardless of position. There's a reason why "word of mouth" recommendations are so meaningful because they can come from a place of trust and connection. I place an importance on building trust. I also view trust as reliance and credibility where my team can rely on each other to jump in when needing advice and build each other up. Especially with all of us still working remotely, it's crucial to promote this value in the virtual space as we have gained new team members in both my team as well as the other teams.

In March 2021, I was blessed with the opportunity to be the Scrum Master on my team. The Scrum Master has the responsibility of upholding the Scrum methodology rules and facilitating Scrum ceremonies (Daily standup, Sprint Planning, Backlog Grooming, Demo/Retrospective). I also feel that I have an unofficial responsibility of continuing the team camaraderie and culture as I also have the unofficial title of "Chief Culture Officer" for the Scottsdale Credit organization. As an example, one Friday, I started using a Microsoft Teams-provided balloon background to celebrate that the weekend is near. The previous-Scrum master adopted this and now as a team, we all have our balloon backgrounds on every Friday. I'm also a huge proponent of bringing all of yourself to work; "all" being what you feel comfortable sharing. So with our daily stand-ups, as everyone starts joining the call, I create space for my coworkers to share about a fun hobby that they did over the weekend. During post-scrum (after every person gives their status update), I try to hold space for any questions that they have that's may relate to what we're working on or PayPal-specific.

Gather a wholistic approach

With the projects that my team has been working on in the past year, we've been able to contribute in back-end services that use the tech stack of Java, Spring Boot, and Maven as well as front-end services that utilize the tech stack of React, Node, and GraphQL. It's been really neat to see how we implement the N-tier architecture model. I've also enjoyed connecting the dots along the way while coding with how we generate and propagate resources. In addition, I've realized that I enjoy doing full-stack which encompasses both back-end which appeals to me from a performance standpoint and front-end which appeals to me from a visual standpoint.

Seize the opportunity! Even if it may terrify you.

I was presented the opportunity to give a deep dive around my team’s internal React, Node web application tool to the Consumer Credit organization with a couple of my coworkers, who have been mentors of mine since the internship days. The foundation of this tool was actually my internship project! We use this tool for administrative functions, triaging, and automating manual remediations. During my short stint on one of the Credit User Experience teams, I was able to bring what I've learned and expand the capabilities of this tool. It just so happened that on the designated presentation date, both of my coworkers were on PTO. My initial reaction was to reschedule because I didn’t have all of the material prepared. We had already re-scheduled twice because the first date was on such short notice and I was in the middle of attending the JS @ PayPal Conference. After thinking it over on a weekend, I thought, “Why not present and with the additional help from my coworkers, we can still include all of the information and context. It’s the best of both worlds.” We moved forward with this plan and I rehearsed a week in advance. in the end, the presentation went really well! It was definitely a pat-on-the-back moment. I also received a lot of good feedback which I will take into the next presentation opportunity.

The greater blessed you are, the greater blessing you can be

I chose this statement because it helps bring color to my thoughts on mentorship. There's so many people that I look up to and I hope that in return, I can continue passing on the advice I've gained. There's so much knowledge out there whether it's specific to the company or generic that it's important to spread the knowledge because that makes us stronger as a team. In these past couple of months (Q2 2021), I've had the opportunity to help onboard a new hire and intern. I've provided overviews of some of the services my team works on along with giving advice on how to approach the JIRA tickets/user stories that we've been assigned. The sharing of knowledge demonstrates how much knowledge I've accumulated so far as well as highlights what I have yet to learn.

Keep those creative juices flowing!

With working remotely, PayPal has giving us a Global Wellness Day every 6 weeks this year 2021. I have been able to use that time towards baking, learning Ableton 11 music production software to provide soundtracks for my dancing, and learning Mandarin and Korean. In December 2020, I was inspired to create this tin foil set in my living room as I got an 8x8 dance floor (and tap board) back in August 2020. Shoutout to my sister for helping me put this together over the course of 2 weeks! It also required around 300 sq ft of tin foil and 60 ft of pvc pipes. Since then, I've added some Neewer lights and RGB led tubes which I use to create a mood around the dances (YouTube, Soundcloud).

Since quarantine, many dance studios started offering a live-streaming option via Zoom. I've been able to take dance classes from studios and learn from choreographers globally! As a fun tally, I've taken from a choreographer and/or studio based in Seoul/South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, New South Wales/Australia, Italy, Israel, Peru, Argentina, Germany, and New York/USA.

TLDR; Wrap Up

From presenting to leading to sharing knowledge, it’s amazing what can happen in a year based off of the fruits of hard work. As a personal goal, I will do my best in working smarter as I accumulate more knowledge. I am also grateful for the support, encouragement, and mentorship that I’ve been receiving along this journey.

If you’ve made it all this way, thank you for taking the time to read. Feel free to share your learnings as well!

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