How to manage and deal with the discomfort of growth in your career, no matter what stage you’re at. If you do something that feels easy, then you likely won’t be growing or progressing.

Mike, Haystack’s co-founder and COO, a software developer by trade said: “I regularly don’t have the answer but I can usually figure it out one way or another”

Jack, Community Manager at Haystack said: “Surely the only way you could feel like you know what you’re doing all the time is by staying very firmly within your comfort zone?”

That is exactly the point. If we always do what we know, how do we learn new things and grow as a person? The fear of the unknown, and the discomfort and growing pains you have in your life and in particular your career, are good things that you shouldn't shy away from.

How do I navigate the feelings of discomfort?

We spoke to Jessie Auguste, a software engineer working in cyber security at CybSafe, she also manages community and partner relationships at Black Valley and as part of the leadership team, helps run events and social media for Coding Black Females. She is fiercely passionate about getting more underrepresented people into tech.

As a graduate in psychology, she went through Sky’s Get Into Tech scheme, and she shares with us her own thoughts, opinions and advice on navigating the early stage of your tech career.

“Discomfort is a catalyst for progress, you will actively seek ways to make the situation easier to deal with. This means that you are in a constant state of change, learning, developing and growing. As great as this is, if you aren’t tracking your progress and your small wins, it can be hard to be aware of how far you have come. Starting a progress tracker in 2021 was game-changing for me. I was able to look back on the previous week, month and year to see just how much I had learnt and overcome, which on those days where the prospect of discomfort seems too much to deal with, can be a massive help”

“A key pillar for me has been finding and engaging with communities. I have found so much support and guidance as a result of making an effort to be engaged, and it has helped me immensely. Especially on the days where I’m struggling to see my own value or feel lost, just being in a space (virtual or physical) with people who understand me, and can offer advice and support is incredibly validating. I always leave feeling refreshed and comforted in a way that makes me more able to return with an appetite for more growth.”

Make sure you’re having fun. A career in tech can be exhausting. You have to actively work on not taking on too much so as to preserve your well-being and to avoid burnout. Make sure that what you are aiming for, is something that you at least think you will enjoy. Fill that journey with ways of learning that you find entertaining. Something that has brought me a lot of joy over the past few months while studying, has been my book club. I meet with a group of other women in tech from non-traditional backgrounds, to discuss and solve data structures and algorithms books and problems. Data structures has gone from being a topic I normally avoid, and feel overwhelmed considering, to something I look forward to learning more about because of how much I enjoy the conversations and discussions we have. I know that the development that has come from learning and practising in that safe space, has happened so much faster than if I was forcing myself to do this on my own. For me, making things social makes them much more fun. For others, it might be gamification, finding platforms like Codewars, and introducing an element of gaming and competition might make it fun.”

Having an external perspective can add immense value to your growth and development. A major force in dealing with discomfort has been provided by the advice given to me by mentors. It can be hard to understand your trajectory and know where best to focus your energy, without the wisdom of someone who has been through a similar experience to you, or is in the position that you are aiming to get to. Mentorship doesn’t always have to be formal, it can be from a friend, it is as much about having a sounding board for you to test and practice new ideas while receiving unbiased feedback.”

You can connect with Jessie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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