To be perfectly honest, I have never had a professional PHP job.
Whilst most of my current personal projects are made with PHP and Laravel, I work as a Python developer in London mostly dealing with data ETL and analytical modelling. I love both languages, but I found myself doing completely different things with these two languages. With PHP, I do only web based applications; and with Python, I only deal with data. Come to think of it, except for playing with Flask, I have actually never made a proper web app with Python.
For the longest time, PHP and Laravel has been a hobby of mine. Especially when I was still in my last job, when I didn’t have nearly enough responsibility as I do now. All I was doing was writing scripts for web scraping and data extraction from external APIs, and the most I’d do was generating PDF reports.
At the time I was able to spend all my spare time focusing on my personal projects. At the same time, I felt really lonely, neither did I have anybody to talk about PHP with, nor did I know many people in the UK at all (I moved here from the US just a little over two years ago).
I had heard of PHP communities at one point, but I was hesitant to join, because I thought I had to at least be a professional to be a part of any communities. The hesitation didn’t stop me from trying, I was excited to have found PHPWomen slack channel, and I knew it would have been the perfect place for me to make some friends.
Not only did I make friends through PHPWomen, I was also invited to PHPSC on scholarship (Thank you so much @michellesanver !). That was the first ever conference I had been to, and it really gave me the chance to see how the PHP community is like: diverse, accepting, supportive and friendly.
Confidence had been one of my personal issues, I’d always be worried whether my skill level is good enough. Being around people at the conference had really made me feel comfortable and less insecure. Let’s be completely honest here, in the tech industry everyone is constantly learning and improving our skills. The concept of being good enough or not good enough probably doesn’t apply here. And this is what I have learned from the community.
What Happened After
Just a month after the conference, I got transferred to our company’s Data Labs department, where we process large amount of data from various different clients every single day. I got a lot more involved with developing in Python than I had ever been, and at the same time, I needed to constantly up my skill on not only Python, but all the other technologies I had not used before.
As I spend more and more of my free time learning and improving my skillsets relevant to my job, I got less and less involved with PHP. Because of that, I had distanced myself from the community as well.
Just when I was feeling a bit lonely again, I received a message on twitter from @heiglandreas asking if I could write a post for ’24 Days In December’. I was thrilled about this, but at the same time I was wondering if I deserved this honor. Especially when I haven’t been involved for months, and I haven’t contributed much back to the community.
“Would I be out of place?”
“Shouldn’t someone more involved be on the blog instead of me?”
All these thoughts came to me. After reading @grmpyprogrammer’s article, I felt much relieved that I’m not alone.
What The Future Holds
Although nobody knows what is going to happen in the future. I’m probably going to continue developing in Python professionally. Even though I might not have much time writing PHP code anymore, I will also continue involving myself in the PHP community, a place that I can call home. What’s most important is the friendship.
Merry Christmas everyone!