A lesson about mental health and looking for a new job

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It’s the 1st of June, I’m in Porto, Portugal for WordCamp Europe which starts tomorrow, sitting in a café and write this post that I’m looking for a new job. It’s also a reflection of the past three months and what I’d like my future job to look like. If you or your company/agency is interested in hiring me, get in touch!

The past three months

A little over three months ago was the last day at my previous agency. After more than 15 years of working as a web developer for three different employers, it was time for a break and something new. I had a lot of plans what to do: working through online courses, brushing up my JavaScript skills and trying myself on creating useful YouTube videos, as all these topics were something I was looking forward to.

But my mental health had different plans for me and I had not really realised it at the beginning of March. So what happened? I dived deep into how to create good videos with an online course but found out I totally underestimated this. There’s so much you have to do to make a video good and I struggled with it, which is the reason why I haven’t published anything yet – I don’t want to waste the time of anyone with a crappy video. But it created even more overwhelm for me which added up to all the stress that built up over the past few months and maybe even years before. Speaking absolutely honestly, I didn’t get much done of what I had initially planned.

Instead I gave myself the time I needed to relax and relieve the stress. But it’s not that I haven’t done anything at all. I also thought about my current situation, where I’m at and what I’d like to do in the future. I was able to lift my brain fog and I’m feeling much better now.

Some achievements

Looking back, here’s what I achieved since March, in random order they came to my mind:

  • Worked on my mental health. Yes, this might not look like a “real” goal but since it’s just as important as any other achievements, it’s listed here too.
  • Identified the issues I’m having with recording videos and prepared to fix this – finally need to set up the teleprompter once I’m back from Porto.
  • Relaunched this website here with a new theme, ready to be the home of future blog posts.
  • Cleaned up my backlog of emails and things to do.
  • Cleaned up my hosting account and WordPress installations.
  • Decided to give my German side project Gutenberg-Fibel a complete overhaul, starting with updating the content for WordPress 6.0 first. It will also get a higher priority and receive more frequent updates.
  • Getting a clearer vision of what I’d like my future job to look like.
  • Had the idea for a block-based / FSE theme and collected inspiration and resources for it. Need to schedule some time to make that happen.
  • Made my first successful code contribution to the Gutenberg repository.
  • Became an active member of the bi-weekly German WP Sofa podcast.

Looking at this list, I did get done some stuff. Just not what I initially planned. But that’s life, isn’t it?

Looking for a new job

My financial plan allows me to be unemployed until the end of June. So it’s about time to prioritise the task of looking for a new job this month. I’ve already been in touch with some folks but have not commited to any position yet.

Reflecting back on my career so far and looking at the current situation in the past few weeks, I got a clearer vision of what I want my job to look like in the future. My preferred options are:

  • Work on a Gutenberg-based product – or –
  • Work as paid contributor on the Gutenberg and/or WordPress project.

I’m a developer at heart, but over the years I’ve also been involved partially in project management, product management and customer support. As a developer, I consider myself a full stack developer but with a bigger strength on the frontend than on the backend. So I’m not just a developer but I also like to think of the other parts and people being dependend on my actions, as well as the overall bigger picture of the things I’m working on.

I’d love to dive deeper into the Gutenberg / block editor space. I’ve been watching the project ever since it got introduced in 2017. I dedicated a side project to it and I see the positive side of the block editor as well as all the issues and problems it introduced. I’d love to work on solutions to make the block editor a better experience.

There’s a reason that “working on client projects at an agency” isn’t listed there: it does not spark joy for me. I’ve been doing this ever since I started working as a developer. But doing it for over 15 years, at different companies, with different clients I can say: it’s the same thing over and over again. I’d need an exceptionally good offer to jump on such a position again. Or in the worst case, the lack of other interesting offers.

Some quick facts about me

Maybe you know me already as we met before online or offline at a WordCamp, or maybe you’re reading this and never heard about me before. Here are some quick facts about me, in a chronological order:

  • Initially started playing around with HTML and CSS in the early 2000’s, so it’s been roughly 20 years now. Over time, I also taught myself some JavaScript and PHP. I’ve been knowing and playing around with WordPress since around 2005 or 2006.
  • At my first job, the main backend language was Python and I was working on custom online shops and custom web applications connecting to an ERP system.
  • I joined the German WordPress community in 2014 by attending my first WordCamp. Over time, I became a speaker (including WCEU 2016 and 2020), meetup organizer and even lead organizer of the WordCamp Osnabrück in 2019.
  • In late 2015 I joined German WordPress agency Inpsyde to work full time with WordPress on an enterprise level.
  • In November 2018 I launched my side project Gutenberg-Fibel as the “missing manual” in German for the block editor.
  • In early 2020 I joined a local Cologne-based agency to work on a WordPress plugin, which included React components, as well as on client projects.
  • In late summer of 2020 I joined the release squad of WordPress 5.6 as Default Theme Wrangler. I also contributed the CSS structure of the Twenty Twenty-One theme, which followed the ITCSS methodology.

Get in touch with me

There’s a lot more to talk about and if you’re around for WordCamp Europe in Porto in the next few days, let’s meet in person! If you’re not attending, let’s get in touch as well!

Reach out to me on Twitter DMs, as I’ll closely monitor it during WordCamp Europe. Please allow some flexibility, as I got some meetings scheduled already.

If you want to reach out to me by e-mail, please send it to hallo@jessicalyschik.de.