2020 Retrospective

December 15, 2020

Given the state of the world in 2020, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity and capacity to work toward my goals. Here’s a reflection of some of the things I did this year and some things I want to do next year.

I wrote 24 blogs

I started blogging in late 2019 as a way to document and share learnings from my journey into software engineering. In early 2020, I then dabbled in writing a few code tutorials and discovered I really enjoy writing technical blogs.

Here I am now, with quite a few blogs under my belt this year:

I created and completed an open source software engineering learning guide

My primary goal in 2020 was to learn how to code and land my first software engineering role. To accomplish this, I set Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). I used my OKRs as a systematic and metric driven way to create an iterative learning plan for myself.

Because of the positive feedback I got from a lot of friends and mentors, I decided to make my OKRs public. I also shared my learning resources in a GitHub repo.

The goal of making my learning plan public was to pay it forward and share my journey with anyone who might be thinking about going down a similar path. To my surprise, I’ve gotten about 300 stars on the GitHub repo. I also received dozens of emails from people who have told me they found the guide useful and adapted it for themselves.

As part of my OKRs, I invested a lot of time in:

  • Learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node, and React
  • Working on projects to learn and practice new code concepts
  • Writing code tutorials and blogs
  • Remote pair programming sessions with friends around the world
  • Learning data structures and algorithms on Interview Cake
  • Mock interviews and a lot of Leetcode problems
  • Co-organizing Write/Speak/Code meetups in San Francisco (pre-pandemic)
  • Attending code related meetups (pre-pandemic)
  • A lot of coffee chats (pre-pandemic)
  • Countless job applications and a handful of interviews
  • Indoor bouldering (pre-pandemic) and baking a lot (because taking breaks is part of the process!)

I built 3 projects I really like

  • Bread Puns API - This project was a silly one because I wanted to combine two of my favorite things, bread and puns. This was also how I learned how to build a simple API with Node and Express.
  • Sourdough Starter Reminder - This one was a fun one to make because it actually solves a real world problem, most relevant during the 2020 quarantine sourdough phase. I also wrote a tutorial on this project with my friend, Chloe.
  • sophiali.dev - This is my blog, the site that you're on right now. I’ve written consistently this year and I’m proud of all the knowledge I’ve gained and shared through writing.

I landed my first software engineering job

In August 2019, I left my job to learn how to code and become a software engineer. In August 2020, I landed my first software engineering role. I am currently a software engineer at FreeWill. I’m happy to be doing something I like while also working at a company with a mission I believe in.

I baked a lot of bread

I baked countless loaves of sourdough bread and went through at least two 50 pound bags of flour. That's 100+ pounds of flour! sourdough cross section two sourdough loaves five sourdough loaves

I learned how to paint

Of course, I painted bread!

Bread with Pearl Earring bread with pearl earring

Frida Kahloaf bread with Frida Kahloaf

Bread Kardashian bread like Kim Kardashian

2020 Quarantine Sourdough Phase bread in house on fire

2021 Writing Goals

Here are a few things I want to learn more and write about:

  • Understanding MobX
  • SQL basics
  • ORM (object-relational mapping) with Sequelize
  • Giving good code reviews


I accomplished my 2020 goal:

  • I learned how to code and landed my first software engineering role.

I’m looking forward to writing more about the things I learn. Thank you for reading my blogs and coming along this journey with me.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday!

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