I got a promotion!Freiburg, Germany
Long story short, I have been promoted to Staff Software Engineer.
Julia Evans explains what a senior engineer’s job is and her blog post describes my role well enough, which is why I won’t go into details here. Instead, I chose to write a more personal “status update”.
First of all, Mozilla has a great career path for engineers, which doesn’t force folks who like to code to become managers, a very common practice in French companies (and maybe elsewhere, ugh!). It’s such a relief!
Second, this new title won’t change my day to day work right now: I have been promoted because I was already doing some of the job of a staff engineer and I likely proved that I was a good fit for this role. I still have many new things to learn, though, and that’s very exciting!
3615 My Life
I joined Mozilla as a frontend developer. I exclusively worked on the AMO frontend in 2018 and eventually became a major contributor. During this time, I started to maintain some side-projects (eslint config/plugin). After a year, I decided to become more proficient with python so I started to contribute to our main backend/API project. This allowed me to work on much bigger features by myself, and I learned a lot more about add-ons and the AMO platform.
In 2019, my main focus was on hardening the AMO platform, a topic that is unfortunately confidential. This work started as a research-y project because we didn’t really know what we could come up with. I chose to use what I learned during my PhD: I studied the “state of the art”. After that, I built several prototypes and presented the results of my initial work to different people, got feedback, iterated, and eventually proposed a plan to move forward. Some prototypes became “production-ready” and are now running in production while others have been shelved.
During this period, I also started a collaboration between a Machine Learning (ML) team and my own team. We wanted to give ML a try but we didn’t know exactly how. I looked into that on my own first! I wanted to be able to ask good questions and, to me, it was necessary to be more familiar with ML and have an idea of how things should be designed. I played with scikit-learn and Jupyter to have some preliminary results that I shared with the ML team along with a lot of questions to ask. I don’t know if that was the “right” thing to do but it worked and the collaboration is still on-going.
In 2020, I worked on various projects between my parental leave and the rounds of layoffs… I started to contribute to Firefox (more on that later) and I adopted a few more projects that needed some maintenance. I also realized that I could bridge the gap between the AMO and WebExtensions (Firefox) teams, so I tried (and continues) to do that.
I didn’t really have any goal in mind when I joined Mozilla (except not being fired because I was a fraud, maybe). Over time, I started to look into new topics because I needed to learn something new and things in front of me were interesting. I feel lucky to have been assigned to this security topic back in 2019, it had a huge impact on my career because I could show what I was able to do. I chose not to be too specialized because that’s not who I am anyway (I suck at being good at one thing so I try to be average on many things instead). I think that works well.
I wouldn’t be there without my amazing colleagues in the Add-ons team. Thanks to all of you! A special note to my current manager (who hired me too): you were already on my “list” of people who largely influenced my career and therefore my life, and you continue to have an immense positive impact. I’ll be forever grateful, thank-you.
Last but not least, I couldn’t end this section without mentioning my partner. She’s been very supportive and did an amazing job at taking care of our little one while I was at work last year <3
This now sounds like an Oscar speech so let’s talk about something else.
In other news
The Firefox codebase was (and still is) kinda scary to me. This is one of those things where I thought I could never contribute to it. That’s a huge project, with a lot of users (I know what you’re thinking!), and developed by many contributors every day. Thanks to my amazing self-confidence (follow the link if you don’t get the irony), I decided to contribute to Firefox roughly a year ago, and this became my personal development goal for the rest of the year. I landed trivial patches and made all the possible mistakes. I learned a lot with Rob and then Luca.
In Q3 2020, I worked on new AMO statistics for add-on developers, which involved various components and required some Firefox changes. I was able to land some patches in Firefox in order to support the rest of my work. That was really cool because I worked on ALL the building blocks.
Last month, I got Commit Access Level 3 on Firefox! It’s rewarding because it means I earned the trust of my peers.
I am so happy!