Code Monkey
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Two Years Of Learning


It has been about two years since I moved to the bay from Australia to join Facebook. What a wild two years it has been!

I typically plan out my life in two year blocks (I can't think further out than two years!). I have high level themes I want to accomplish for this chapter. The high level theme I had for the last two years were simple - to learn.

A New Chapter

To learn was the was the reason I came to the bay. It seemed to have the highest concentration of people that had similar interests to me. I simply wanted to learn about everything and anything. What makes the world turn? How can I make a impact?

Australia felt a little one dimensional, if I was lucky I would join Google or Atlassian whose scale would make an impact but outside of that there were few options. If I wanted to make a difference in the world the bay felt like the place to be.

However, this transition didn't come without its fair share of anxiety. I was born and raised in Australia and I lived with my parents my entire life. All of my friends were there. My significant other of a year and half was there. Leaving all of that behind to a place where I knew no-one was terrifying. The imposter syndrome was powerful. Would I be good enough? What if I am a fraud? Did I just get lucky? I was excited but I was nervous.

A New Chapter
A New Chapter (written 2019-05-21)

Transcript (if you can't read my terrible handwriting ;)):

On my flight to San Fran. Filled with excitement & sadness. The end of a chapter huts but is a must for a new one to begin. Grateful for all the support & good to know I am not alone.

Letter to Myself

During FB orientation, they ask you to write a letter to yourself about your current impressions and where you want to be in a year. This was weeks before I even knew what team I would join or what I would work on. I thought this was incredibly silly at the time but I kept my letter anyway.

Letter to Myself
Letter to Myself (written sometime around 2019-06-...)


Current Impressions: Excited! I hope this first year I am able to learn as much as I can whilst still making an impact! I can't wait to speak to all the talented individuals about all kinds of ideas & concepts. I love how open the culture is and I think I've made the right choice.

Things to learn in first year: What does it take to make a successful product.

How to manage various tradeoffs -> quality vs time. autonomy vs reponsibility.

Learn what customers want from all around the world!

Learn how to speak & network more!


All I wanted to do in the first year was to absorb. Be like a sponge and consume everything you can from everyone. FB had incredible diversity and such a wide variety of perspectives.


Let's go through some key things I learnt during my last two years.

People > Technology

The most important feature to me when I was picking a team at FB was what were the people on the team like. I ended up settling on a team where I had an outstanding mentor. The domain I worked in was completely foreign to me but knowing the openness my colleagues had to helping me helped me take the jump. This helped me push through the lows and increase the highs. It made work feel like fun and really emphasized the team culture. Especially as a junior engineer, the people you decide to work with and learn from matters much more than the technology you decide to use.

Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

"Throw me in the deep end and I'll figure out how to swim." - ?

Everything was uncomfortable once I got to the bay. I was far out of my element. People were driving on the wrong side of the road, what's going on with that! However, I quickly learnt that this feeling of uneasiness is where I grow the most. At work, the fondest moments I had was battling with a really hard problem that I had no idea how to solve. Multiple iterations led to nothing. However, it was during those times I grew the most. My manager likes to call it a "productive struggle".

A good litmus test is if you're failing you're pushing yourself to your limit. Of course, an environment that fosters failure and allows you to work fast is essential here. Fail often and fail fast. That is the key to making progress.

Writing is a great example of an area I absolutely hated and was terrible at. However, I knew it was a fantastic medium to express my ideas if not just to myself. "To know read, to learn write, to master teach".

Confidence and Curiosity

"I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was." - Muhammad Ali

I feared coming to the bay as to be ousted as an imposter. If I entered work and was unable to keep up - would all my hopes and dreams be ended right there and then? These thoughts are inevitable, however, I had one strength up my sleeve. This was I convinced myself that I was capable of anything. Whether or not I was was not relevant to me. I would attempt everything as if I was an expert. This opened me up to any opportunity or challenge ahead of me. Instead of asking myself if I could do this, I jumped right in to see what would happen.

However, an important skills to combine with the confidence is an everlasting curiosity. Be confident in your abilities but be curious about the problem. Keep yourself open to learning and listening. As I approached the latter end of the two years the confidence started to overcome my desire to learn and listen. Curiosity will keep you adaptable in this ever changing world.

Focus on the Journey

This is a cliche but cannot be overstated. Disconnect yourself from the outputs and enjoy the moment. The only thing at the end of a destination is another destination. You'll always be chasing goals so enjoy the process to get there. Sanity check yourself as to what your perfect day looks like. If you're not working towards that then there's something that needs fixing.

A sub-point here is to have fun. Almost everything I do, I do it because I enjoy it. Life without fun is not life!

Be Flexible

The pandemic taught me that having rigid goals and aspirations is a surefire way to failure (and not the good kind!). Be flexible with what you want to achieve as there will always be unknowns. Build practices over habits. Have your identity tied to values as opposed to activities (e.g. Value being fit over going to the gym daily).

Be Grateful

There's a lot to take for granted. There are so many days where I was up and don't realize how lucky I am to be exactly where I am. A younger me dreamed of this life so I should appreciate everything I have!

Humans are Social Animals

I'm sure as many people are learnt, social interaction is key to a healthy lifestyle. I naively believed that I just needed to be better being in solitude. This is important but building up strong connections is just as an important. Relationships should energize you as opposed to drain you.

Through this, I learnt how weak social interactions over social media was. Instead of replenishing my social satisfaction it drained it further. Find and sustain real relationships.

Keep Dreaming

If I told the Justin who boarded the flight to San Fransico two years ago about my life today he would not believe it. There are areas that he would be impressed, areas where he would be disappointed and areas where he would just be plain confused. Sure, the life I dreamed of two years ago aren't exactly the life I live but dreams are made to change. There's one thing past Justin would be ecstatic to hear, which is the amount happiness that day-to-day life brings me. At the end of the day, as these two years go by the accomplishments are not what I remember. Instead it's the feeling of joy I've experienced with all the fantastic people I've had the pleasure to spend time with. It's been a fun two years and I can't wait to see what the next two have in store for me!