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Reflections on 2019

·3 mins

2023 note

I realized when I was going back and reorganizing my reflections that I never properly wrote out a year in review for 2019 (and that I’d done so for 2018 and 2020). Jotting down some recollections now, pieced together from various snippets I had written and what I can still remember, for the sake of having something to look back on in the future.

In the same way that 2018 was a year of rebuilding my personal life, 2019 was a year of reinventing my professional life - in May I lost my job in sudden and humiliating fashion.

I was coming off of a lot of personal successes (physically, socially) in 2018, and my professional life had become an afterthought at this point…which must have been part of the impetus for what happened (I’ll never know). I was still pretty vulnerable and fragile at this point, and losing the only career I had ever known since I was a child was yet another shatterpoint.

I was in denial for a while. I travelled to Vietnam to meet up with my parents, trying to regain my bearings - it didn’t help all that much - and then stayed in my rented apartment until my emergency fund ran out midway through the summer, after which I had no other choice but to pack up and move home.

I threw all sorts of applications into the job mill, focusing on finding Excel and other more-data-centric jobs. I’d been building fantasy football spreadsheets for quite a while by this point (since 2017) and had become extremely proficient in Excel’s PowerQuery suite for doing more database-like work, so I was pretty hopeful that I could find a job in this space.

A couple of uncomfortable summer months went by - coaching rowing gave it some structure, interspersed with job applications and obsessing over various fantasy football projects. I accepted a casual gig working for Dynasty League Football as a writer, and contributed a couple of articles and projects there, but I learned that I wasn’t much of a writer and that I was more of a data/tools person.

One of these personal projects was a dynasty trade calculator dashboard, which had a user facing Excel sheet and a backend written in PowerQuery. My friend Joe Sydlowski offered to write an R-based Shiny app front-end to the calculator to help make the sheets more accessible. I agreed, but as the development went on, I became such an annoying and needy product manager that I started bothering Joe into giving me access to the R code and teaching me how to edit and update the app so that I could make the changes I wanted to make. It wasn’t long before I was hooked on R - first refactoring the app to use the tidyverse, then writing my own (Crystal Ball) from scratch, and my love of R only snowballed from there.

I finally landed a full-time role at Caivan Communities in October, which blended my new aspirations in data work with my background and domain experience in real estate / construction. Despite my own fears around imposter syndrome - I’d only been programming in R for a few months - I found myself in position to contribute small R and Shiny tools right away, which felt so much more fulfilling than I’d ever felt in property management.