2016 Year-In-Review

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone had a restful holiday. I spent time with family in LA and Seattle and played a lot of Pokémon Sun. I'm about 80% of the way through completing the Alola Pokédex.

I wanted to try to keep up this tradition of doing a year-in-review blog post, since I really enjoyed writing last year's, and I actually made resolutions so I wanted to hold myself accountable for how I stacked up. This was a hard year for many reasons that I won't be getting into, but needless to say I'm looking forward to being done with 2016 and moving on to 2017, which is a prime number so that's probably good right?

2016 Goals

Speak at at least one conference (preferably two, one international, one domestic)

Complete: spoke at DroidKaigi 2016, and was accepted to speak at DroidKaigi 2017

Formulate a speaking strategy for some Ruby and/or Rails conferences and submit

Complete: Submitted to RubyConf US and Australia

Speak at a local Ruby meetup

Somewhat ironically incomplete, although I did help start and run Fog City Ruby (formerly SF.rb), which is a lot more work than just speaking at a meetup

2016 was a rough year for me in terms of conference speaking. I had gotten my public speaking career off to a great start in 2015, but despite putting in the same amount of effort, I did not have as much success this past year. I certainly don't submit to a large number of conferences (in 2016 I submitted to four and was accepted to one), so I could certainly increase my odds by submitting to more conferences. While I do enjoy being in front of a crowd and the exposure that I get from doing so, it is a lot of work, and it is often difficult to rationalize putting in a ton of energy to conference speaking when I already have a full schedule of work and other things. I was really happy to be accepted to DroidKaigi 2017 at the end of the year, so I hope this new talk on refactoring will re-energize me for submitting to the 2017 conference circuit.

Considering how little public speaking I actually did in 2016, here are some other things I accomplished:

Got PADI Open Water Diver certified

This is probably the most surprising (to me) thing I did in 2016. I never thought I would want to learn how to scuba dive, but going to Australia prompted Stella to convince me to try it with her, and I completed the certification and didn't die. Diving at the Great Barrier Reef was super awesome, and I'm really proud of myself for tackling something physically and mentally challenging (I was actually pretty freaked out by the idea of spending that much time underwater, but after doing all the coursework and learning about the science, was able to chill out about it).

Shaved part of my head

This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but this was something I had been wanting to do for a long time and it was a really freeing experience.

Trying something new with my hair :)

A photo posted by Siena Aguayo (@sienatime_) on

Went to Australia for RubyConf Australia (writeup/sketchnotes) and Japan for DroidKaigi (sketchnotes)

Attended Google I/O (sketchnotes)

Attended Sandi Metz's Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby class

This was a pretty transformative experience that I'm still processing. I think a lot of what I learned and have been applying in my own work will come out in my upcoming talk at DroidKaigi 2017 entitled "Don't reset --hard: Strategies for Tackling Large Refactors."

Attended Write/Speak/Code in Chicago (writeup and sketchnotes)

Contributed to open source for the first time and stayed a regular contributor to if-me.org

I'm currently almost done leading a big project to add internationalization to the site and it's been really fun and challenging, and also awesome to help out other contributors. It's also helped me realize just how much I've learned since learning to code three years ago.

Shipped a huge project at work

It's funny that this was almost an afterthought when compiling this list, but I did spend the better part of my work year shipping a huge project for Indiegogo that is out there live in the wild. Essentially, it allows you to pick options for perks when you go through the checkout flow, which eliminates a ton of overhead for campaigners in terms of collecting this data, and also provides backers with confidence that their selection has been made. It was incredible to me how a thing that sounds relatively simple (i.e. picking a T-shirt size) could be so complex and require so much engineering effort. This was the biggest project I had lead at work so far and spanned two quarters. I'm really proud of the work my team and I did and am looking forward to continuing to build on this foundation in 2017.

Perk Items

Became an area/team lead

I was certainly not expecting this to happen this year and in many ways still feel like I am earning my keep as a team lead. This role at Indiegogo (officially called an area lead) acts as a liaison to the rest of the engineering team and also makes sure their scrum team has what they need to be successful, but is not people management. The leadership part comes naturally to me, but I know I have to work on my technical know-how and confidence, as I'm currently the only person in this role who is not a senior engineer. This is a great growth opportunity for me though, and I'm quite thankful for the continued chance to challenge myself professionally. 

Knit a lot

I finished three sweaters and started another one!

The first I had started in 2015 so was mostly done, the second I knit start-to-finish from January to August, and the third I don't have a picture of but was started by my mom years ago.

Phew. It's actually a lot when all laid out on the table like that. I think especially the last six months have been stressful in a variety of ways, so I had forgotten just how many different things I achieved this year, even if they were not necessarily goals I had at the beginning of the year. Just goes to show how important reflection is.

I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to any 2017 goals just yet. Certainly I could use a writing goal (that old "one blog post a month" pledge from Write/Speak/Code sounds good, and I even have an idea of where to fit writing into my schedule, so maybe I could give that one a shot). Fog City Ruby is going to continue into 2017 and I want that to be an even better meetup than it already is. I will keep contributing to if me. And I'll probably submit to some conferences too. I'm also angling to be promoted to senior engineer this year. My Twitter presence has languished since hitting my first milestone of 1000 followers (which I think also happened this year but I can't quite remember), so it could use some love. There's lots of work to be done and lots of growth to be had, personally and professionally, so I think I'm just going to keep doing my thing.