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By Mindy McCutcheon

What You Wish You Had Known

Last week the Zaengle team partook in our first official team ‘Betterment Day’.

As a growing remote team, it becomes even more critical we carve out time to bond and hang out.

One of the activities we planned was to discuss 'What do you wish you had known when you started your career?' The results provided insight into each team member’s work ethic, personality, and experiences. Read up on what each of our team members wish they had known when they started their careers.


Don’t go into business for yourself as a first step. I wish I had worked for an agency before going out on my own to learn the business, observe the pitfalls, and learn the ropes. Or if you’re not keen on running your own shop, before you hit big life events like a spouse, kids, etc, spend some time working at one of the big tech co’s (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc). These are theIBM or Intel of the 70’s and the Microsoft of the 80’s/90’ gain great experience, build your resume, build connections, and can tell your kids one day, "hey I worked there."


I have three major things I wish I had known as I started my career:

  • Failure is an event, not a person. Everything is an opportunity to learn. When you’re young you don’t need money and security. So take risks when you’re young!
  • Every business is different. Find peace in the journey.
  • Read more. Even if you think you’re reading enough, you probably aren’t! Read anything and everything you can; never stop learning.


I would tell myself to invest more in relationships. I spent most of my college years with my nose in my books. I didn't take advantage of valuable opportunities to connect with professors, colleagues, and peers. Those relationships and conversations may have led to some interesting/exciting opportunities to collaborate, opened some doors, or even shown me some doors that I didn't know existed.


Take any opportunity where you’re paid to learn or where someone else is paying for you to learn. Also, don’t try to be the smartest person in the room. Listen to what’s being said, you might not always agree with everyone (and that’s totally fine) but there are ways to handle those differences graciously.


I would tell myself “Jesse, don’t learn Flash”. But in all seriousness, programming over the long-haul requires a balance of output and rest/learning. Like any long endurance event, pace yourself accordingly or you can risk burning out or becoming stagnant.


Take chances, be scared, get out of your comfort zone. Being challenged helps you grow, but it’s scary to take that leap. You have to trust your instincts and not rely on anyone else to push you or you risk getting in your own way!


If you’re freelancing, take taxes out and plan accordingly! As a young programmer, I started out freelancing thinking I was making a ton of money. When tax season came, I had a crude wake up call that I owed a crap load in taxes from all my 1099 work.

We hope our experiences can help the next generation of designers, developers, and business/product owners. Obviously, the path we each take is winding, but the general theme here is- learn as much as you can, push your limits, and enjoy the journey!

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By Mindy McCutcheon