The personal brain-dump of Garrett Coakley

The Impossible Post aka What's Been Happening The Past Four Months

(Feels like I've been trying to work out how to write this post for a few months now. Damn lockdown brain.)

TL;DR version

After attending the always excellent New Adventures Conference in January I was inspired to leave my job and find something new.

So I handed in my notice without having a position to go to.

Then all this… [waves hands] happened.


It all worked out well in the end though.

Less short version

Back in January (which feels like a lifetime ago!) I was off to Nottingham for one of the highlights of my calendar, New Adventures conference.

I've written before about how much New Adventures means to me, and once again Simon, Geri, Relly and the rest of the New Adventures team delivered.

This years was a more sombre affair, posing serious questions about catastrophic climate change, the ever widening gap between rich and poor, inclusivity in society, and our responsibilities as designers and developers to interrogate what this means for us and the things we put into the world.

During the morning of the conference, listening to Akil Benjamin talk about the power to make meaningful changes in your life, I started to feel this itch in the back of my head. An itch I'd felt before, I'd been dissatisfied with my job for a while.

This wasn't a people problem. My team were (are still) among the best people I have ever worked with. A smarter, more caring, compassionate, amazing bunch of human beings you couldn't hope to find.

I miss them a lot.

No, this was a matter of process and structure. Things are slow in a large multinational. I didn't feel like I was making the kind of impact that I wanted to and I hadn't been finding the work very satisfying.

Then Akil posted this slide.

Akil Benjamin speaking at New Adventures in front of a slide that says "WHat choice do you make next?"

(He's a much bouncier and warmer person than this photo suggests)

And the itch got more insistent.

I decided was going to hand in my notice when I got back.

I've never left a position before without having something to go to, so I was nervous, but I knew there was a lot going on out there, and I am extremely lucky to have a great network of friends and peers, so it was a good nervous.

I (slightly) drunkenly told both Akil and Simon my plans at the after-party. A way to force myself to commit and not chicken out.

I did the deed, and my last day was set as March 20th.

I had some interviews, and was getting good feedback from everyone I was talking to, I even got an offer early on, but none of the positions felt right. Until I got an email from an old boss, saying that a friend of his was looking for a front-end dev, and would I like him to set up an introduction.

Yes please!

The first chat was back at the beginning of March with Dan, the CTO. A meeting that was originally scheduled for 1 hour became 3 hours in a cafe showing each other bits of code, designs, talking about the web, education, and all manner of things. An encouraging start.

Looking back it's strange how the follow-up meetings mapped themselves onto the encroaching pandemic.

The second chat was the following week with my now (spoilers!) CEO Elspeth. By this point health advice had turned to limiting physical contact. I visited the office this time, but we didn't shake hands, and there was plenty of hand sanitiser at the main door.

A week later I had my third chat, with Paul the Head Of Engineering, and although it was pre-lockdown, people were beginning to social distance and I was already working from home. This was a completely remote affair.

Everything went well and I was offered the position the week the lockdown was announced. I'm now the Front-End Developer at Learning With Experts.

My lovely team threw me a remote leaving party, there were lots of hats.

Leaving Party on Zoom

I hope we get to meet up for actual drinks in the future.

So, yeah. That was an interesting few months!

This thing is already too long, so I'm going to end it here, and follow-up with a post about how I'm dealing with lockdown, and things that have helped me.