Episode 148 – Be Open to Opportunity and Beware of Career Burn Out with Kyle Shevlin

 In Podcasts

Phil’s guest on today’s show is Kyle Shevlin. He specializes in working with JavaScript, React, Redux, GraphQL, Noda, Webpack, D3 and several others at the front end. Currently, he is working as a Senior Software Engineer for Webflow. Kyle is an Egghead.io instructor and is about to release a new JavaScript related course.

He is also the host for the very popular Second Career Devs podcast, which is targeted at IT professionals who have previously worked in other industries. Kyle also speaks at conferences, meetups and regularly live streams on Twitch.


(00.57) – So Kyle, can I ask you to expand on that brief intro and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Kyle explains that he is a software engineer at WebFlow. There he is working on democratizing software as well as expanding the world of visual development and website building. He also makes podcasts and enjoys spending too long on Twitter.

Kyle is a good scratch golfer and at one time he was going to turn professional. But, things did not work out, which he is actually now quite glad about. Playing sport is a tough way to make a living, especially if you are not in the top 100. He jokes that he much prefers his cushy IT career.

(2.28) – Can you please share a unique career tip with the I.T. Career Energizers audience? Kyle says it is important to be open to opportunity.

Over the years, Kyle has taken advantage of opportunities that he was not really looking for. Taking chances has had a very positive impact on his life.

However, Kyle is not suggesting you go into things blind. You still need to do a bit of research to make sure it is a genuine opportunity and is right for you.

(3.22) – Phil comments that a lot of people are reluctant to take risks, so is interested to know how Kyle overcomes that tendency. Kyle responds by admitting that he is more risk averse than he would like to be. However, when his gut reaction is to hold back, he actively pauses and fully evaluates the situation. This helps him to respond differently, if it is appropriate to do so.

A lot of the time it turns out to be fear that he does not have the ability that holds him back. Every time he has pushed himself to get past that fear, he succeeds.

(4.24) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. A few years ago, when he was first hired his manager tasked him with stirring things up a bit. His manager wanted to mix things as a way of driving change, with the long term goal of producing a positive result for everyone.

Unfortunately, a few weeks into the job Kyle’s manager was moved on. So, he no longer had their support.

However, Kyle carried on with the task he had been given. Unfortunately, things did not work out well. He tried to push change without gaining trust and getting consensus first. This experience taught him that you need to pick the right time to make changes.

If something needs changing, Kyle now pauses, takes stock, appraises the situation properly, identifies the priorities, and then proceeds. Most importantly of all, he builds trust before trying to implement change.

(6.48) – What was your best career moment? For Kyle, this is a tricky question because he automatically thinks of the latest thing he has achieved as a highlight. Each new achievement still gives him a bit of a rush.

Career-wise this is a good thing because it keeps him chasing the next accomplishment. Kyle believes that the fact he is always chasing that high is partly responsible for his success.

For example, he is about to release a new course as a way of building on the work he has been doing with egghead.io. He knows from all of the feedback that what people have learned from him has made a positive difference to their lives. That great feeling has driven him on to produce more tutorials.

(8.19) – Phil comments on the fact that feedback is great because it gives your energy levels a boost, feeds your passion and enthusiasm. This ends up pushing you towards your goals. Kyle agrees that this positive feedback loop is very beneficial. When people tell you your work is good, it pushes you on to produce something even better.

(8.41) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? The fact that something new is always happening is one of the things Kyle finds exciting about the IT industry. In particular, how much the JavaScript ecosystem has grown and is still growing. It is particularly good to see the language being updated more frequently.

Kyle is also excited to see more people getting involved in web development and software engineering through JavaScript. Code schools are attracting people from all walks of life. They bring lots of experience, energy and passion with them, which is beneficial for the IT industry as a whole.

(10.22) – What drew you to a career in IT? Kyle really enjoys solving little problems. He has always been a fan of logic puzzles, crosswords and that sort of thing.

In fact, as part of his philosophy degree, he studied logic. When he began to code, he was able to apply what he had learned about logic in a tangible way. In ways that make a positive difference in the world.

(10.53) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Someone once told Kyle to remember that you have two ears and one mouth. He likes to talk, so has had to learn to pause and really listen.

(11.07) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Kyle says the only thing he would probably do differently is to skip grad school. Before starting his software engineer career, Kyle was a pastor. A job which led to him spending years studying for a theology masters. Now, he really wishes he had skipped his degree, discovered IT, and switched sooner.

(12.22) – What are you currently focusing on in your career? Right now, Kyle is focusing on making a good start at WebFlow. His past couple of jobs were not a good fit for him. But, he already knows the CEO and many members of the Webflow team well, so feels that he is finally in the right place. So, right now, he just wants to get stuck in and do a great job.

(13.24) – So, are you planning to continue with your podcast? Kyle is planning to continue putting out a podcast every couple of weeks.

(14.00) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? Kyle has found that becoming more empathetic has really helped him. Trying to understand how others are feeling and what their needs are helps you to click with them.

Over the years, he has realized that the times he has failed usually correlate to when he has been least empathetic. Phil agrees, he has noticed that more people in the IT sector are waking up to the need to be more empathetic. It is a change that is greatly benefiting the industry.

(15.50) – Phil asks Kyle to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. Kyle’s advice is to be vigilant about burnout. He suffered through this about a year ago. So, he wants people to be aware of the danger and take better care of themselves and set aside enough time to enjoy a healthy personal life.


(2.40) KYLE – “Be open to opportunity.”

(4.16) KYLE – “Get more into the habit of taking that risk and saying yes, because that is the only way you’re going to grow”

(8.33) KYLE – “When you hear quality things about the work you’re doing it encourage you to make even more quality work for them”

(11.00) KYLE – “I’d studied logic and coding allows me to apply that logic in a very tangible way and make a change in the world”

(13.22) KYLE – “Work happiness leads to life happiness, in my case.”

(15.00) PHIL– “Empathy is something that people need to consider almost daily when they interact with people.”


Twitter: https://twitter.com/kyleshevlin

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyleshevlin/

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyleshevlin/

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