in Prose

S03E04: Into the fire(break)

This has been an intense but very gratifying week. A lot, a lot of things have happened. Here are a few.

1We’ve put a lot of code into production, and the publishing tool that content designers use to make step by step guides looks and handles much better. The changes we’ve made reduce the barriers to entry for new content designers to make the guides. This, in turn, should make it easier to scale the platform up and make more guides that cover huge, cross-government journeys. Things like how to apply for student finance in England and what to do when someone dies. These are important, valuable things and I’ve been so proud to have worked on them.

2I made a decision to stay at my current organisation for a while longer. I was offered a secondment, and although the role seems exciting and useful to develop my career I want to stick at this first. It’s my first paid developer job, and I want to stick at it for longer than four months. I felt really bad turning down the person who offered and I think I was more brusque than I would have liked. I’m not sure how to be better at that. Ask people to offer me things more often?

I only made the decision after speaking to a lot of people about it, and I can’t express how grateful I am to all of them for letting me bounce arguments off them. Every day I’m made more and more forcefully aware than I don’t do this enough, and I’m making a conscious effort to have lunch and meet with people more.

I refuse to bottle stuff up any more.⁰

Someone smashing a bottle with a baseball bat

3I got confirmation that I’m moving to a new program at work. It’s going to be an interesting shift; I’ve already met the team and they seem like very cool people.

In similar work moves, I’ve got confirmation that I’ll be working at the Ministry of Justice during firebreak, which is the one-week gap we have between missions. I’m only there for four days, as I’m attending Map Camp to see swardley on Wednesday, but I’m incredibly, over-the-top-excited to work in a really different context on a fairly green field product. It’s come about at the urging of a friend and colleague² with whom I worked on a conference. We all wrote a lot about that, too. Make things open. It makes people friends.

I see this as living a One Team Gov principle:

In my organisation I’m changing floors and for the next week I’m changing organisation. I’m going to do my best to blog about the work I do, because I think if everyone took one week after every 12 and went to another organisation to offer to do something interesting, we might do more interesting things.

It might even inspire people to wonder what a system where people were free to move across the wider organisation in search of interesting projects might look like…

4Future Leaders Scheme update!


I’ve been nervous all day about it and never heard back. Now I’m nervous and frustrated. Boooooooo!

5It might just be the Piri-Piri spice or the slight end of term feel that comes from the close of the quarter, but I’m feeling more than ever how lucky I am. I earn enough money to rent a place by myself and own a pet; I inherited a chunk of money so I’ll own a property. This isn’t the normal state of affairs for my generation — if I were to start from nothing now and had to save for a deposit I think I’d be 40 before I could purchase.

So I’m writing this to keep myself honest. I have worked hard. Where there have been opportunities I’ve taken them. But if hard work made you rich horses would be millionaires. The avalanche of my success certainly contains a snowflake of hard work, but the rest of that thundering mass of snow is pure dumb luck.

Don’t let me forget that.


⁰ You better believe that despite writing weeknotes I still bottle up a load of shit and struggle to let go of the hero narrative which, let’s be honest, is the mainstay of capitalist societies and (not) incidentally the image boys¹ are given from every angle at all times

¹ and people socialised as boys

² Is it rare for those two words to go together? Why?

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