You're Not Alone w/ Mark Thompson

Have you noticed me dropping the “you’re not alone” line in these newsletters for, like, months now? Well, today we’re going to dive into what that means and what that means for your career. I’m lucky enough to be joined on the topic by Mark Thompson, Senior of Developer Relations at Google. So let’s take a deep breath, a sip of coffee, and get in our feels a bit.

Catch the first of hopefully multiple chats with Mark here:

Or if you think I’ve been writing some sort of cryptic message and need answers immediately:

No, when I say “you’re not alone” I’m not talking about aliens. But now based on the news maybe I should pivot the subject of GC 2.0… Anyway, the meat of what I’m getting at is that we all go through similar experiences in our careers. Some of them are great and plenty of them are not so great. We tend to feel pretty isolated in those not-so-great moments, whether you’ve been laid off or can’t land a new job. Sometimes it feels like you’re (drumroll) alone.

The job search is a brutal place at times. And it’s easy to find yourself on the well-worn mental path of feeling like you’re not good enough or there’s something wrong with you. It can be difficult to emotionally lean on your close friends or partners who tend to get job search amnesia once they’re settled into their careers. At some point in their career, everyone takes a L. And in these moments, it’s important to seek out a network to lean on. Just by being part of this newsletter or joining in a Live, you’re already part of a network. And it’s a network of people who actively understand what you’re feeling and are here to help.

In the words of Mark, there’s no magic bullet to get you through the “bad times,” and the only way through it is through it. So use what you’ve got to get what you want. It can be as simple as:

  • Offer to Help Someone: if you can help someone, do it. If you show up genuinely to help someone else, one day that may come back and help you. Or not. But you have to be willing to put yourself out there.

  • Join New Communities: You’re already reading this on a device that can connect you to thousands of people. Do it. Join a Discord or Slack channel, head to a developer meetup, or just find a community already doing something you have an interest in.

  • Find a Mentor: If you want to fast-track yourself and your career, get an outside neutral influence who has experience.

  • Understand that You Didn’t Fail: If someone breaks up with you, you’re still deserving of a relationship. The same thing goes for your job. If you recently got laid off— it’s pretty high odds that it wasn’t because you failed or because of your performance. The tech ecosystem just sucks right now. You matter and you’re valuable, you just have to find the right fit for you.

Saying that it all works out diminishes people’s feelings and experiences, but if you’re in the mental struggle of, “Will I ever get another job? They laid me off because I wasn’t good enough” just know you’re just on one side of your experience. And not knowing the timeline is scary and uncomfortable for everyone. But, don’t forget, you’re not alone. So lean on your community. Be open about needing help. Your career is yours and yours alone, so make whatever you want from it.