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Junior Developer to Pod Lead in 4 Years – My Unconventional Journey

In this post, our Front End Developer and Pod Lead, Dwayne Codling, shares some reflections on his unconventional career journey, looking back 4 years after joining the team at JH. Take it away, Dwayne!

A turning point 

It’s been four years since my journey started into the world of web development – and unlike most, I started older. I was 36, and I felt like if I didn’t make the move, I would be stuck doing what I was OK to do – not what I loved to do. My ‘OK to do’ was Lecturing – and while I love my students, and love the task of helping to grow and develop future generations of talent… the downside was watching so many drop out or get lost along the way. It was painful being in an educational system that was set up so that only the very best of the ones who got it – at that very early point – would be successful. I could start with a class of 20 excited students, and from that only 4 or 5 would achieve what they hope to gain. It was a year in, year out experience that led me to want to do more.

After 3 years of this, I wanted to invest in myself, and make a path forward where I could help my students see that it is possible to achieve your dreams – and more! – when you put your mind to it. I also wanted to be a supportive mentor and teacher that would be there for them when they need help to get to that level.

Starting from the bottom

So 4 years in – what has happened? Well… a lot! I started from the bottom, a 36 year old Junior Front End Developer at a JH – you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know. You know?!

I found out that there were so many more levels to it than I could have imagined! I sat beside some of the best developers in the eCommerce space, watching while they made the fastest and most polished websites on the web. I had to put my head down – I constantly felt like I needed to catch up. The conversations on the Slack channels were over my head; the catchup meetings and tech demos were over my head; I thought to myself, “Damn, there is a long journey ahead of me. I’m on only the first step – and I’m 36.”

It’s all about the journey

So with all those challenges – how did I get to become a better developer and become a Pod Lead – leading a team consisting of several Developers, Account Manager and PM’s – just 4 years later?

As well as a lot of hard work – I took some of the best advice I was given. 

One that’s stuck with me – when you’re at the first step of your journey and you look up at the goal, you think, “Will I ever get there?” The same is true for a seasoned developer – initially you think that is supposedly at the top step, but once you reach it, you can only see that in reality, the top is much further away than you thought. It’s like crossing a mountain range – at the top of each peak, all you can see is the next – even higher – peak to conquer. The important thing is the journey; the journey never stops, wherever you are, and whenever you start.

Discovering my key to success

The second sound advice I was given is that you can contribute without being the best, and you have other skills and knowledge – ones that might surprise you – that may be the key to your success.

My key was that I care about my team: I care about the people I work with and want to see them become successful. I care about the place I work, and want it to succeed in achieving the company’s goals. I care about the clients we serve, and want them to be successful. 

It’s that simple: whatever it is that I can use to amplify that, and make others succeed is what I want to do. Developing students and mentoring them as a Lecturer has put me in a position where this is a natural task – and putting in the time to talk and develop someone is what makes me happy. Leaving a legacy that goes beyond, to help make other people’s dreams a reality, is all part of the journey that I have set myself.

Four years later

So here I am, four years later – and even in these strange times I am doing more than just OK. I’m loving what I am doing, despite the everyday challenges (and rewards) of dealing with people’s emotions… the good and the bad! I feel best placed to motivate and lead my team, by putting them in the best position to make them successful, which leads to happiness and contentment – for them and me!

As a team, we move forward together – no-one gets left behind. We are accountable to each other, looking after each other, and making each other stars in our roles.
JH gave me that initial opportunity and invested in me, and now I am in a position that enables me to use all my skills, and do what I love to do, on a day to day basis – I could not be happier with where I work.

Thanks to Dwayne for sharing such heartfelt thoughts about his journey with us! We’re honored to have him as part of our team here at JH. To hear more from Dwayne, connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.
This post is part of our Career Stories series – read more inspirational stories from the JH team here!