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Should I Quit My Job? What’s Next? Part 2

BackInTheGame78

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So our main work is in React/JavaScript. Lately, I’ve been exclusively frontend. However, I’ve done backend work too using Java/Spring Boot to build an API. I’ve also written a few Lambda Functions in Python, but this was pretty rare.

Never looked into those other frameworks but I will since I’m going to be upskilling hard next month.
For React instead of ngRx you'll want to check out Redux. NgRx is an angular based version of Redux...

RxJs is a framework/library for using Observables which are highly flexible and pretty amazing with what you can do with them.

Redux is an Immutable Data Store that you interact with and it keeps your data in one place to access and safe from random changes as those must go thru the store itself. Any largish applications should be using some type of data store as a basis for good design.
 

nicksaiz65

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Personally, this doesn't sound like a place I'd want to work. If they have no expectations other than "get it done as fast as you can" what standards do they have? Does that include writing unit tests? Other type of tests?

There is no measurable standard of what this means and as such it's completely subjective and liable to be not very useful for much of anything other than playing favorites and people rushing to write code that is not very good and that causes them to spend double the time in fixing bugs and rewriting the code eventually.

If you were to ask them "how do you measure performance" and their response contains anything about how many lines of code you write or how fast you write code, this is not a place you want to work.
This is the major gripe that I have about my current workplace. Everything else is amazing: I work 100% remote, I can ping anyone on Slack at any time of day and they’ll jump in a Zoom and help me with my code, and they let me work an insane schedule, 7 AM - 3:30 PM.

I just wish we had concrete, objective standards like you said. I don’t personally write unit tests so I can’t speak on that. But I agree with you. How fast is fast? How slow is slow? I understand you can’t be egregiously slow, or be BSing. But I just wish we had solid deadlines. I never get a straight answer when I ask this question. I tried suggesting to my boss “a minimum of 8 points per sprint” but he says that’s not a good mindset.

If I take “as fast as possible” literally, that’s me working 80 hour weeks. I’m ok with working more to stay ahead of the curve, but if I don’t know where the curve is… I had to study way more than the average student to get out of Operating Systems too.

Like when I was building that REST API, several issues popped up. I later learned that I was considered very slow at writing code. I thought that was normal because, of course stuff is going to pop up lol.

Even if he said like, “I want this done by Tuesday” and I wasn’t done, I could be like “hey this deadline isn’t realistic because blah blah blah. Here’s where my code is at. Can I have an extension?”

I don’t know how to put this to my boss. Maybe it’ll be better when I work somewhere else. The only other metric I can think for myself to track is “hours worked.” If I spent 50 hours on code and my coworkers were doing 40, I’d probably pass them up simply by out working them.
 
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nicksaiz65

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For React instead of ngRx you'll want to check out Redux. NgRx is an angular based version of Redux...

RxJs is a framework/library for using Observables which are highly flexible and pretty amazing with what you can do with them.

Redux is an Immutable Data Store that you interact with and it keeps your data in one place to access and safe from random changes as those must go thru the store itself. Any largish applications should be using some type of data store as a basis for good design.
Oh dope, I’ve gotten to play with Redux a bit. It’s pretty cool with “raising the state” and what not. I actually have a React/Redux course on Udemy that I will be taking in my month of upskilling.

By the way, this is off topic, but when you become a Senior Dev who do you ask for help when you’re stuck? Although I’m a junior dev, I usually have to ask for help from the seniors to get a breakthrough that lets me finish whatever problem I’m currently working on.
 

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nicksaiz65

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You have to learn to be able to take critical feedback without having an emotional response and going nuclear, especially if you are going to be working for someone else but really this applies to everything. EVERYONE has things they need to tighten up and work on especially when you are young. If you want to do well, ask to sit down with him and go over all the specifics of what he thinks you need to improve on and from that create actionable steps and metrics to show you are making progress. Have a good attitude about it and actually put in the effort to improve and also make sure you continue to communicate about it. If your boss is a reasonable person and you stick with the plan, over the next 6-12 months he most likely will look at you in a completely different light.

As someone who has been in management and had employees for over 20yrs, there is nothing more annoying than not being able to talk to someone about what they need to improve on or adjust. If it is a pattern of someone who works for me I usually start planning on how I can get rid of them. On the flip side, when someone works for me and genuinely wants to do a good job and is willing to be receptive to feedback I will really go above and beyond for them.
One interesting thing was, when I got that task done in a day, my boss asked me “What was your workflow like? What changed?” That question caught me off guard, I didn’t expect him to ask that. I basically just broke down how I thought about the problem and, then I was like I just worked more hours lol.
 

BackInTheGame78

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Oh dope, I’ve gotten to play with Redux a bit. It’s pretty cool with “raising the state” and what not. I actually have a React/Redux course on Udemy that I will be taking in my month of upskilling.

By the way, this is off topic, but when you become a Senior Dev who do you ask for help when you’re stuck? Although I’m a junior dev, I usually have to ask for help from the seniors to get a breakthrough that lets me finish whatever problem I’m currently working on.
We tend to be very "team" oriented when approaching cards and many times people will jump in on a card and help out with various tasks when they have bandwidth and we will routinely get on calls to talk things over.

It's looked at very favorably and we are super efficient and get a lot done. In fact one of the rules on our team is that we have one less active card than we have developers so there is someone free to pair program pretty much at all times.

Not sure how things work where you are at or if this is encouraged, but if it isn't I would again question the workplace environment.
 

DonJuanjr

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I remember backinthegame previously saying that succeeding at coding depends on how natural one is at it. I'm paraphrasing. Maybe coding isn't for OP?

As far as following your passion OP... Just because it's your passion doesn't mean you'll be successful at it either. I followed my passion for over a decade and failed at it. Putting me behind in personal development 10 years plus...
 

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nicksaiz65

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I remember backinthegame previously saying that succeeding at coding depends on how natural one is at it. I'm paraphrasing. Maybe coding isn't for OP?

As far as following your passion OP... Just because it's your passion doesn't mean you'll be successful at it either. I followed my passion for over a decade and failed at it. Putting me behind in personal development 10 years plus...
Yeah… I don’t have to be the greatest programmer in the world but at a minimum I need to be competent at my job.

What was your passion if you don’t mind me asking?
 
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FlirtLife

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I remember backinthegame previously saying that succeeding at coding depends on how natural one is at it. I'm paraphrasing. Maybe coding isn't for OP?
His boss was impressed when he finished his current project quickly, then fixed something else the next day. It does not sound like coding was the problem.
 

FlirtLife

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Yeah… I don’t have to be the greatest programmer in the world but at a minimum I need to be competent at my job.
Someone who does well at California Institute of Technology might struggle at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Similarly, the skill of your co-workers can vary, which can impact how you view yourself. It might be better to start earning $150k/year and have a long career, rather than burn out competing with co-workers while briefly earning $180k/year.
 

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With swe background there are lots of other ways to progress in career than deeper competence in tech: junior -> medior -> senior SWE vs getting into management.

I could see even jumping to different architect positions as a dramatically different path from simply being better coder.
In addition to technical competence there you start to need lots of soft people skills.
Person with great technical skills and soft skills AND who "talks business" is a rare unicorn indeed.

There's of course working as in-house vs working as a consultant choice to make also.
 

nicksaiz65

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With swe background there are lots of other ways to progress in career than deeper competence in tech: junior -> medior -> senior SWE vs getting into management.

I could see even jumping to different architect positions as a dramatically different path from simply being better coder.
In addition to technical competence there you start to need lots of soft people skills.
Person with great technical skills and soft skills AND who "talks business" is a rare unicorn indeed.

There's of course working as in-house vs working as a consultant choice to make also.
My dad actually said something similar to this. Would you happen to have any articles I could read on stuff like this, on other methods I can progress my career?

EDIT:
This makes me very excited that I take my AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam in a few days. This could open up more income-generating career paths. (Also, in my opinion, this makes me slightly harder to fire because they like having engineers with certs on the team… ;))
 
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My dad actually said something similar to this. Would you happen to have any articles I could read on stuff like this, on other methods I can progress my career?
Unfortunately no links for you, this is more life experience here. Although I suppose it should be easy to do some googling. I think @BackInTheGame78 could comment here also from his experience, because I might be just the neckbeard from his mommy's basement. (And won't go into personal details on public forum because of privacy.)

Soft skills:

In my experience, while there are lot's of difference in roles, the more senior you get and more responsibility you get bigger proportion of your worst problems in IT projects are the human problems.

In many cases in enterprise IT projects this means really understanding the business needs you are trying to solve and being able to "sell" the most cost effective and simplest way to solve their most important business problems. This keeps your projects succeeding. I have seen technologically brilliant projects that ended up trying to fix wrong things, go totally south.

This means that you need to be effective communicator and it really, really helps if people like you and wan't to succeed with you. Personally I'd suggest trying, how even really simple personal rapport building techniques can totally change how you communicate with people and how much time and effort they are willing to spend helping you.

In my experience we have been quite hesitant to push into architect positions even really brilliant developers if they lack social skills.

EDIT:
This makes me very excited that I take my AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam in a few days. This could open up more income-generating career paths. (Also, in my opinion, this makes me slightly harder to fire because they like having engineers with certs on the team… ;))
Awesome! This can be even more useful, if you work as a consultant, where your CV has to be sold to each new customer. Also your growth mindset will impress your boss. Just keep the momentum rolling after you get the cert and set new targets.
 
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nicksaiz65

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Unfortunately no links for you, this is more life experience here. Although I suppose it should be easy to do some googling. I think @BackInTheGame78 could comment here also from his experience, because I might be just the neckbeard from his mommy's basement. (And won't go into personal details on public forum because of privacy.)

Soft skills:

In my experience, while there are lot's of difference in roles, the more senior you get and more responsibility you get bigger proportion of your worst problems in IT projects are the human problems.

In many cases in enterprise IT projects this means really understanding the business needs you are trying to solve and being able to "sell" the most cost effective and simplest way to solve their most important business problems. This keeps your projects succeeding. I have seen technologically brilliant projects that ended up trying to fix wrong things, go totally south.

This means that you need to be effective communicator and it really, really helps if people like you and wan't to succeed with you. Personally I'd suggest trying, how even really simple personal rapport building techniques can totally change how you communicate with people and how much time and effort they are willing to spend helping you.

In my experience we have been quite hesitant to push into architect positions even really brilliant developers if they lack social skills.



Awesome! This can be even more useful, if you work as a consultant, where your CV has to be sold to each new customer. Also your growth mindset will impress your boss. Just keep the momentum rolling after you get the cert and set new targets.
Excellent. That’s great to hear.

For the month of January, I’ll have a lot of free time. I’ll be working a paltry 45 hours a week. I plan to use that time to beef up my resume hardcore, AND upskill, AND build personal projects. I’m so tired of applying for jobs and being like “Wow, I’m really unqualified for this.” My goal by the end of the month is to be qualified for 80% of the jobs that I see on LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter and what not.

I need to make a GitHub and get a headshot done as well…
 

AAAgent

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As stated in the update, I now know what it takes for me to personally be a successful software engineer. I just have to put in more hours than the “average” engineer if I want to be a top performer. Trying to be Overemployed with two tech jobs at once is a complete joke. I just need to choose one tech job, and do it really really well.
It should be obvious that if you want to be the best, you need to be putting in more than average. If you know your skills are not average, than you likely also need to put in more than average, just to reach average.

I was the latter half early on in my career. Spent about an extra 2 hours daily after work doing additional work just to reach average. I think if you can accept the reality that you either aren't up to caliber or need to put in more time to reach where you want to get to, things seem to make more sense. I see it as an investment into myself and increasing the value of my stock this way.

People don't care how long or hard you work. It's all about results. You are hired to deliver results on certain project. If you don't deliver, it becomes an issue not only for you, but for your boss/team who also needs to deliver. Knowing not only what you're being tasked to do, but knowing how it affects others makes it much easier to manage expectations.
 

AAAgent

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I just wish we had concrete, objective standards like you said. I don’t personally write unit tests so I can’t speak on that. But I agree with you. How fast is fast? How slow is slow? I understand you can’t be egregiously slow, or be BSing. But I just wish we had solid deadlines. I never get a straight answer when I ask this question. I tried suggesting to my boss “a minimum of 8 points per sprint” but he says that’s not a good mindset.
This part is probably extremely difficult to learn if you don't know it already. I think a strong education, delivering on projects/deadlines, working with others well, especially your teachers, makes this easier. I didn't have this so i understand where you're coming from.


Potentially how you can deal with this is to explain your concerns.

- Boss, give me some soft deadlines, even if they aren't hard, they will help me manage expectations.
- Boss, one of my issues is managing expectations, the above will help me be more reliable.
- Assuming soft deadline is X date, can I set W date to review my work with you? This way I can make last minute changes before X date. (work needs to be done by W date).

If you can't finish work by W date, then use W date to explain to boss you couldn't finish by that date to review but you'd like to find out what you can do to speed you work.

Managing expectations of superiors leads to quality work, meeting deadlines, and lastly, growth/promotions.
 

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BackInTheGame78

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My dad actually said something similar to this. Would you happen to have any articles I could read on stuff like this, on other methods I can progress my career?

EDIT:
This makes me very excited that I take my AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam in a few days. This could open up more income-generating career paths. (Also, in my opinion, this makes me slightly harder to fire because they like having engineers with certs on the team… ;))
So here is the path that I took:

-intense work on my own being self-taught for many years but building a game that gave me a ton of experience in architecture of applications from the ground up that most people don't have starting out.

-got a job as a junior developer

-worked there for 6 months, had a buddy contact me who worked at a large bank that said they were looking for someone with my skill set but were having issues finding someone...interviewed with them and took the job. Initial job offered me a 20K raise and extra week of PTO to stay but I knew it wasn't in my best interest as I would be maxed out there for a while.

-worked at bank for almost 2 years where I was literally a one man band as an IT department inside operations. While there also went back to scholl for 2 years full time and got my Computer Science degree. Essentially I bridged a gap between the global applications they had available and what was actually needed for North American operations. Most of the applications were heavily geared towards Asia mainly and then the EU. North America was an afterthought that basically got whatever they did and were on their own after that. This was the biggest growth in terms of my development and emgineering skills. First I began by automating processes that were being done manually on a daily basis that would take up to 8 hours for a person. Once automated it took under 10 minutes. They couldn't believe it. This was using Excel VBA. From there I basically had projects from every department they wanted done and my boss determined what went first and then I sat down with them and we filled out a Business Requirements Document(BRD) so I had a better understanding of what was needed and something I could work off of. All of these projects were built from literally nothing but this piece of paper and every line of code was written by me.

By the time I left I had a modular application built that had single sign on based on their Windows ID that gave them access to certain modules based on their role in the DB and everything that I created in the last year was built in that. Was a standalone desktop application in C# using SQL Server DB as the backend. Unfortunately didn't have access to run it from the server due to limitations. Also created functional tools like a web scraper for a site that we needed to get our incoming call data from since there was no way to export it and they were going page by page and copying it into Excel 50 records at a time. At the time there were only about 60 pages and it took about 45 minutes since you had to do it a certain way or it wouldn't copy properly. My scraping application took about 2-3 minutes and 5 minutes tops once it got up to 600 pages as they were not logging calls properly at first when I got there and this was a huge issue for getting good data. If I hadn't built that scraper program it would have taken 12+ hours to copy all those record over.

-left there because I was expected to build new applications, maintain all the old ones(eventually for up to like 10 or 11), run monthly reports and then still do other reports that popped up with no notice. Got to be too much. Was promised help but it never came. Went to an insurance company for a $20K raise and senior role.

-stayed there 8 months then got a call from a recruiter from a large region bank looking to hire me...got another $20K raise even thonI went back to a mid level developer.

-left there after a year and a half to take another senior role with another $20K pay raise and 5% bonus each year. Also unlimited PTO.

Still there now. Love it and likely won't leave unless I find a place that is going to boost my pay considerably. Not interested in management jobs. Those are basically jobs where you need to work double the hours for nowhere near double the pay. Lots of stress. Lots of deadlines. No thanks.

Your goal should be to switch jobs every 1-2 years until you reach a senior role paying in the $120-150K+ range. You will never get as big of a pay raise by being promoted as you will by switching jobs. Once there then you can slow this down somewhat especially if you like where you are at
 
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nicksaiz65

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So here is the path that I took:

-intense work on my own being self-taught for many years but building a game that gave me a ton of experience in architecture of applications from the ground up that most people don't have starting out.

-got a job as a junior developer

-worked there for 6 months, had a buddy contact me who worked at a large bank that said they were looking for someone with my skill set but were having issues finding someone...interviewed with them and took the job. Initial job offered me a 20K raise and extra week of PTO to stay but I knew it wasn't in my best interest as I would be maxed out there for a while.

-worked at bank for almost 2 years where I was literally a one man band as an IT department inside operations. While there also went back to scholl for 2 years full time and got my Computer Science degree. Essentially I bridged a gap between the global applications they had available and what was actually needed for North American operations. Most of the applications were heavily geared towards Asia mainly and then the EU. North America was an afterthought that basically got whatever they did and were on their own after that. This was the biggest growth in terms of my development and emgineering skills. First I began by automating processes that were being done manually on a daily basis that would take up to 8 hours for a person. Once automated it took under 10 minutes. They couldn't believe it. This was using Excel VBA. From there I basically had projects from every department they wanted done and my boss determined what went first and then I sat down with them and we filled out a Business Requirements Document(BRD) so I had a better understanding of what was needed and something I could work off of. All of these projects were built from literally nothing but this piece of paper and every line of code was written by me.

By the time I left I had a modular application built that had single sign on based on their Windows ID that gave them access to certain modules based on their role in the DB and everything that I created in the last year was built in that. Was a standalone desktop application in C# using SQL Server DB as the backend. Unfortunately didn't have access to run it from the server due to limitations. Also created functional tools like a web scraper for a site that we needed to get our incoming call data from since there was no way to export it and they were going page by page and copying it into Excel 50 records at a time. At the time there were only about 60 pages and it took about 45 minutes since you had to do it a certain way or it wouldn't copy properly. My scraping application took about 2-3 minutes and 5 minutes tops once it got up to 600 pages as they were not logging calls properly at first when I got there and this was a huge issue for getting good data. If I hadn't built that scraper program it would have taken 12+ hours to copy all those record over.

-left there because I was expected to build new applications, maintain all the old ones(eventually for up to like 10 or 11), run monthly reports and then still do other reports that popped up with no notice. Got to be too much. Was promised help but it never came. Went to an insurance company for a $20K raise and senior role.

-stayed there 8 months then got a call from a recruiter from a large region bank looking to hire me...got another $20K raise even thonI went back to a mid level developer.

-left there after a year and a half to take another senior role with another $20K pay raise and 5% bonus each year. Also unlimited PTO.

Still there now. Love it and likely won't leave unless I find a place that is going to boost my pay considerably. Not interested in management jobs. Those are basically jobs where you need to work double the hours for nowhere near double the pay. Lots of stress. Lots of deadlines. No thanks.

Your goal should be to switch jobs every 1-2 years until you reach a senior role paying in the $120-150K+ range. You will never get as big of a pay raise by being promoted as you will by switching jobs. Once there then you can slow this down somewhat especially if you like where you are at
So technically, you had your first dev job before your CS degree. That’s dope. Did you do any certifications to prove your skills, or did you do it exclusively through your portfolio?

And that’s really funny that you mention a web scraper. I actually built one for my Senior Capstone.

Good to hear that about the management jobs. All things considered, I’m happy where I’m at as a software engineer.

Well, good news, I’ve managed to get into that range. I’ll detail that in my next post.
 

nicksaiz65

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It should be obvious that if you want to be the best, you need to be putting in more than average. If you know your skills are not average, than you likely also need to put in more than average, just to reach average.

I was the latter half early on in my career. Spent about an extra 2 hours daily after work doing additional work just to reach average. I think if you can accept the reality that you either aren't up to caliber or need to put in more time to reach where you want to get to, things seem to make more sense. I see it as an investment into myself and increasing the value of my stock this way.

People don't care how long or hard you work. It's all about results. You are hired to deliver results on certain project. If you don't deliver, it becomes an issue not only for you, but for your boss/team who also needs to deliver. Knowing not only what you're being tasked to do, but knowing how it affects others makes it much easier to manage expectations.
I definitely don’t mind to work more hours because I want to be a top performer. But as we were talking about, I need to know where the curve is. “As fast as possible” is not very helpful lol.
 

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nicksaiz65

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This part is probably extremely difficult to learn if you don't know it already. I think a strong education, delivering on projects/deadlines, working with others well, especially your teachers, makes this easier. I didn't have this so i understand where you're coming from.


Potentially how you can deal with this is to explain your concerns.

- Boss, give me some soft deadlines, even if they aren't hard, they will help me manage expectations.
- Boss, one of my issues is managing expectations, the above will help me be more reliable.
- Assuming soft deadline is X date, can I set W date to review my work with you? This way I can make last minute changes before X date. (work needs to be done by W date).

If you can't finish work by W date, then use W date to explain to boss you couldn't finish by that date to review but you'd like to find out what you can do to speed you work.

Managing expectations of superiors leads to quality work, meeting deadlines, and lastly, growth/promotions.
This is gold. I actually have a one-on-one scheduled with my boss in a couple days. (We have one on one’s scheduled each month now.) I’ll be using this script.
 

nicksaiz65

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Big Update: I Landed a New Tech Job

After I got that stern talking-to at my current job, I took @SW15 ’s advice, and started working on my resume plus applying to other jobs.

I sent out 70 applications, which got me a couple of interviews. One of the jobs offered me a position as a mid-level developer, paying me $120,000 a year. It’s also 100% remote, I’d never have to go in the office ever.

Freaking Christ. That’s effectively a $45K raise. And I was hyped when they gave me a $7K raise at my first job for doing AWS Cloud Practitioner.

I was able to talk to the recruiter over the phone, and he give me a ton of hints on the kind of questions they would ask on the interview. I could tell he liked me off rip, which is great.

By the way, @BackInTheGame78 do you ever use ChatGPT? It’s insanely useful in this field. It’s helping me get tickets done faster, which is increasing my work speed. It was also fantastic at training me up in this interview. I pasted in the job description and told it to ask me mid-level interview questions on Java and Spring Boot. It hit a lot of the questions that they asked me.
 
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