2020 and 2021 in review

Where to start? I skipped a year in review post for 2020 very deliberately. Whilst there were many moments of note, the lockdown at the end of the year made it difficult to find the motivation to reflect on the year. For this reason, I'm going to reflect upon 2020 and 2021 all in one go.

These last two years have been a bit of a blur to be completely honest - when I was planning this post I struggled to work out exactly what happened and when! But here goes, let's see what I've been up to. As a reminder, here's my look back at 2019.

2020

I'm going to blitz through 2020 because a lot of it isn't worth remembering.

2020 was another year of no driving for me. I've done this before but it never gets any easier. This time round, I was working for ubisend who were based in Norwich but I was living in Ipswich. In early 2020 I really struggled with working remotely, especially the part where all of my colleagues (and friends) were together in the office. I decided to pursue other opportunities mostly due to this and landed a job at BT which started at the beginning of April. Ironically, one of the big drivers for me leaving was that I was the only person working from home - a situation that would've resolved itself had I stayed!

Not one to dwell on what could've been, I was still glad that I joined BT. I went into a pure AWS role working in a small team to deliver improvements to internal cloud governance and engineering tooling. I met some great people whilst working there whom I am still in contact with. I had the opportunity to work with some graduates new to the business for an extended period of time in a mentoring capacity, helping them to upskill in AWS and ultimately work towards completing their AWS Solution Architect Associate certification.

In my personal life, 2020 was a year of highs and lows. As a family we experienced some loss, however both were on the cards for a while and ultimately stopped two people from suffering any longer. Fortunately, we all remained free from COVID (that we know of) and stayed healthy overall. As expected, travel was off the table for the year so nothing to report on that front. The big news for the year was that in December, me and my partner bought our first home! It's a lovely 3 bedroom new build with ample space for us to grow into. The extra space to allow me to comfortably work from home came in very useful indeed.

2021

2021 was a very different year to the previous. It felt as if we have got a much better handle on the whole COVID situation and the presence of vaccines has certainly made me feel a lot more optimistic about the future.

My required 12 months of no driving completed at the start of the year however due to (politely speaking) the DVLA and my GP's incompetence, I didn't get my licence back until May. I must say, the additional 5 months of not being able to drive whilst knowing that I am fully entitled to were significantly harder than the 12 months prior. But never mind - we got there in the end, and I'm now 2 years seizure free which is a great milestone to hit. As a little treat to myself for waiting patiently, I bought a Golf GTI rather quickly after my licence came through - this has been my (realistic) dream car for a long, long time.

Early in 2021, I started to have a think about my near future professional goals and came to the conclusion that I didn't think BT would allow me to move as quickly as I would've liked to. Whilst I enjoyed the job, I just felt a little too comfortable and decided to go with my gut and explore what the job market was offering. It didn't take very long for me to find a company that piqued my interest - Inawisdom. They're a consultancy that specialises in data and machine learning on AWS, two high growth areas that would present new challenges to me. What attracted me most was that they had just been acquired by Cognizant but were still retaining their small-company feel and family culture. Sounded like a perfect fit. I interviewed with them and ultimately ended up joining them in May. Since then, I feel like I've learnt an absolute ton and am really looking forward to what is thrown at me next. If you like the sound of Inawisdom, we're growing really quickly and almost always hiring. View our job vacancies and if you apply, please mention that I've sent you!

I was very happy to be able to travel away from home twice in 2021. In the autumn, we had a staycation in the Cotswolds with some friends from university which was a nice break from day-to-day life. It's an area of the country that I've not properly explored and there were lots of great places that we visited. In December, we had a few days away in Prague to celebrate our third year together - somewhere else that I've never been. Whilst the trip looked to be in jeopardy a few times due to COVID restrictions changing, we had a lovely time and would 100% go back.

To round out the year, it was great to be able to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve with friends and family. So far, it seems like we've made it through the celebrations virus-free so let's keep fingers crossed.

Looking ahead to 2022

2022 - almost doesn't feel like it should be here yet, but here we are. I turn 25 this year which is rather scary, doesn't feel like yesterday that I was starting university at 18.

I don't want to dwell on the ifs, buts, hows and whats of what 2022 could bring, so I'm going to take a slightly different approach to the one I usually do. Inspired by but not 100% sticking to Allie K. Miller's Goal Planning Template, I am going to set an overarching motto for the year and then write goals that should all directly help me live that motto.

Motto

Be someone that others go to for knowledge.

Goals

Increase my depth of knowledge

Study for and achieve more AWS certifications. I'd like to do the following certifications:

  • Machine Learning Specialty
  • Data Analytics Specialty
  • Security Specialty
  • Solution Architect Professional

Certifications aren't everything, so these will need to be accompanied by continuing to push myself on client projects at work.

Share my knowledge

I'm planning on applying for the AWS Community Builder program in January when it re-opens. As well as this I'm keen to increase the cadence of blog posts and speaking (in-person or remote)

Expand my network

I'm hoping that by engaging with more people on Twitter and in general AWS communities, I can get more opportunities to help other people upskill themselves to where they want to be.

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