2019 Year in Review

Robin / December 26th, 2019

5 min read13,334

2019 was arguably my best year to date, both professionally and personally. This was the second year I set detailed yearly goals and held myself accountable for reaching them. Overall, I met 90% of my goals.


  • 💍Got engaged!
  • 🏡Bought a townhome with my fiancée
  • 🚀Promoted to Software Engineer III
  • 📈Gained >100 newsletter subscribers
  • 📚Wrote 24 articles which amassed over 150,000 views
  • 🎤Spoke in front of >100 people at a conference in Seattle


Hands down, my biggest life event this year was getting engaged to my now fiancée, Allie. I planned a surprise party so her family and friends could all be there to celebrate the moment. It was unforgettable.

Shortly after, I sold my condo and purchased a new townhome with Allie. This was not a simple process. Part of the complexity came from listing "for sale by owner" instead of with a realtor. I could write an entire article on the pros & cons of owning vs. renting, but let's just say it was a long three-month process.

I had the opportunity to travel a lot this year. Denver (x2), Kansas City (x2), Milwaukee, Exuma, and last but not least Italy 🇮🇹 I attended lots of concerts, including my two current favorite bands LANY and The Band CAMINO.


At the start of 2019, I was finally getting settled into my new role at Hy-Vee. It's been a year of exponential growth 📈

While I learned a great deal in my 3 years at Workiva, the bulk of the learning came in the first year. After that, there was less exploration of new tools & technologies and more specialized work on our product.

The problem was that a good portion of the tech we used was either not widely used across the industry, or only relevant to Workiva. This did not translate well when it was time to switch companies.

Luckily, I've always enjoyed learning and was hungry for a new challenge. Thanks to some great teammates and peers, I've learned more in 2019 than I did in the prior 3 years. This is not an all-encompassing list, but I gained significant experience with the following:

This knowledge and experience led to other endeavors.

  • I landed my largest freelance client, BeyondHQ, and built an entire web application using Next.js, React, Firebase, and styled-components.
  • Launched Mastering Next.js, a 50+ lesson video course for building applications with Next.js and React.
  • Started dsmtech.io to promote tech companies in the DSM area and help engineers find job opportunities (featured in Innovation Iowa 🚀).

There were a few other notable parts of 2019 worth mentioning.

  • I was promoted to Software Engineer III at Hy-Vee 🎉 I'm leading the design system architecture for our organization of ~150 engineers. New components are built with React, Storybook, and styled-components.
  • I've been apart of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the Technology Association of Iowa.

Conference Talks

In February, I posted an article called Technical Recruiting is Broken. I was frustrated with being incorrectly targeted by recruiters and wanted to share my perspective on what was broken with the process.

The response I received was overwhelming.

Over 10,000 page views and 200 comments from engineers sharing their stories about why technical recruiting was broken and their experiences. One person who was particularly moved was Angie Verros, the organizer behind Talent42.

Talent42 is the national conference focused 100% on helping recruiters hire top technology talent. We bring you keynotes from engineering leaders, tech recruiting leader presentations and panels, hands-on roundtables, and training. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Target, Costco, Uber, Disney, Nike, NBC, Etsy, and many search firms send their tech recruiting teams to participate in this practical, how-to conference that’s all about sourcing, interviewing, and closing the best tech talent on earth.

Angie wanted me to come out to Seattle and speak at Talent42 to share an engineer's perspective on technical recruiting. Coincidentally, one of my goals for 2019 was to speak at a national conference. Challenge accepted!

Talent42 Recruiting Conference

This talk was one of my favorite moments of the year. I walked on that stage with more confidence than I've ever felt. It was an incredible feeling. This inspired me to speak at four other events in 2019.


I wrote 24 articles in 2019 and amassed over 150,000 views! 😱Here are some of my most popular.

Looking Ahead To 2020

I've started outlining some goals for 2020. I'd love to hear what others are striving to achieve. Shoot me an email if you want to share yours!

  • 💍 Get married
  • 🎤 Speak at a conference internationally
  • 🎶 Record a cover and post it on Spotify
  • ⚛️ Increase proficiency in JavaScript and full-stack development
  • 🍇 Be more intentional about meal prepping and focus on my diet

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