The past two weeks have been extremely emotional. When things get intense, I
eat copious amounts of Ben & Jerry’s write.
As all good things inevitably come to an end, I am counting my last days with Elastic. It is very bittersweet, as it has been the best job I’ve ever had, and the longest-tenured one to date.
So I figured this chapter of my life deserves a short story of its own.
The story begins in the summer of 2018…
… a year before I will officially join. It was the summer when my dad almost died. I spent three weeks in Croatia, nursing him back to health. Against all odds, he made a miraculous recovery, which for me meant one thing only – we were given a second chance. A chance to spend more time together, to reconnect, to include each other in our lives again.
But back then, my life was in Dublin, a life that, among other things, included my full-time, office job. I realized that in the future I’d need more of those multi-week getaways when I could just work from Croatia, no questions asked.
In the meantime…
…I got involved in a project involving Elasticsearch. It was massive and messy and hard and exhilarating – all at the same time. I was in awe of what Elasticsearch could do and enjoyed learning about it. At one point I reached the conclusion that this was the best piece of software ever written (an opinion that has been mostly unchallenged until the recent ChatGPT days).
I began a job hunt…
….as I was looking for a job that would allow me to work from home, but one that would also be interesting. I was delighted and terrified when I found out Elastic could be such a job. I was wondering – is there a chance I could get in there? And work with incredibly smart engineers?
Getting in wasn’t an easy feat. A few weeks after I had sent my CV in I still hadn’t received any response. My friend, a force of nature, decided to put an end to my sulking and pinged someone who knew someone who used to work at Elastic. I know this gets confusing, so I drew a little diagram here:
I guess it was only fair…
… that I received a job offer as I was checking in at the hotel with my dad for a short weekend getaway by the seaside. Still, I didn’t make a decision to join Elastic lightly. I was at a good place at my previous company, doing well, enjoying working with people I worked with, and having fun. But mostly, I was delaying a decision because I was afraid. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough for this company that I thought so highly of.
It was the exact same friend from earlier who finally convinced me to take the plunge.
For what turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
I started working in September 2019. Slowly, but steadily, I was getting used to working from home, settling into the new role, and learning about the company and its products. Things were going well until –
Well, 2020 happened…
In 2020, I broke up with my long-term partner, moved out of the apartment I called home, feared for both my health and the health of my loved ones, and felt alone and isolated. Things that once brought joy were closed or unavailable. I couldn’t freely spend time with people, I couldn’t visit my friends, see my niece, I couldn’t go to the gym and I couldn’t run. To finish things off, 2020 ended with us in Croatia getting hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake.
I was feeling so ungrounded, and once the ground beneath me literally started shaking, I completely lost it.
Back then, work was my lifeline. I put the remaining little energy I had left into doing my job.
I think if I had worked for any other company in 2020, a company that would have put additional stress on me, I would not have survived.
In a way, my job saved my life.
People I worked with were so full of understanding, without even knowing exactly what it is they needed to understand. They saw me do my best at the time, and they let me get on with it. They knew when to step in and when to let me be.
And things were starting to get better. As I was healing on a personal front, I was becoming more of the engineer I once used to be. Strong, confident, and engaged. And I had continued support of this new/old me until my very last days.
There are a lot of companies out there doing interesting things…
… probably some even more interesting than Elastic. But it’s the company culture that differentiates those companies. At the source of every company are its people. The people I worked with are incredibly smart, calm, and understanding.
There is the CTO who will let me cry in front of them, drunken, at 2 am. There is a manager who will encourage me to take a few days off when they see I am almost hysterical.
There are people who have brilliant ideas, and explain them coherently. Those people will draw seven diagrams until I understand what is being talked about. Those people will let me ask them a dozen questions, even when they are the same questions over and over again.
There are people who are unapologetically themselves, people who listened to my in-the-moment rants about topics I can’t even remember now, and people who made me smile.
Then there are people who questioned me, grew me, and pushed me to express myself better.
There are people who challenged me and made me disagree with them, only to come up with better, more robust ideas in the end.
There are people who understand that between 1 and 2 pm is my sacred nap time when I take no meetings 😅
But most importantly – it is the people who have accepted me exactly the way I am and encouraged me to get better at the things I am already good at, instead of trying to make me fit into some predefined box of how an engineer should look like.
Growing as an engineer is easy, but growing as a person is hard. And that’s the part I am most grateful for – I grew as a person.
Thank you for letting me be a chapter in your story. Elastic will be a dear one in mine. Maybe one day in the future our stories intertwine again.