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Did I forget 3 years of React after using Angular for 9 months? 😱

Some background information before I start my story.

In the past 9 months, I have been working with Angular. Before that, I worked with React for three years. These are on the front end part.

The current situation

Lately I have been thinking about switching to a new project. I get a lot of requests to work on React projects because of my previous projects. Talking to a colleague about interviews, I got the idea to make a quick test; how long would it take to write a simple to-do app in both Angular and React. Since I am working full-time with Angular, I managed to set up a local project and create a to-do app in 28 minutes. It included features to create and complete to-do items. Also, to list completed to-do items with some custom CSS. I cheated a bit because I googled a little bit in the meantime.

My mind was empty when I tried to do the same in React. I did not remember how to create a new project. I did not remember how to use forms. My mind wanted to do everything in the Angular way. It started to bother me so much that I am re-reading the React tutorials and documentation now.

It got me thinking

In the current fast-paced world, when all the programming tools and options to get the same tasks done are so vast, can we get through an interview answering all the questions perfectly? Can we keep up with all the technologies?

Interview belief stages by experience

Internship

When I applied for my internship, I had no concept of what an interview would look like. I knew that I learned as much as I could during my university days, and I expected companies to know what to expect from me with my given background. I was fortunate enough that I got accepted to my first application.

During my internship, I realized how much more is there to learn than what the University gives. This internship opened up my eyes. I was not naive to believe everything would be taught in the university courses. But I was not expecting to learn that much.

Junior

After finishing the internship, and I got my diploma, I started to apply for full-time jobs. My internship interview was not the easiest, but the full-time job interviews were much more intense. In retrospect, I still do not believe that those interviews were meant for a fresh Junior candidate. Those were for more like a developer with at least two or three years of experience. Some of them would be even tough for a Senior developer. I am aware that these labels (Junior, Medior, Senior) are subjective.

I became stressed. Even after I received a job offer (in “just” 2 months), I learned like my life is on the stake. It partially still follows me to this day.

After Junior

Since I kept learning with tense, my skills started to improve visibly in a short time. From a Junior, I received the label of a Senior in 2 years. I skipped the Medior years at that specific company. I have got confident enough not to stress out myself too much in future interviews. I always got a new job when I wanted. But still. The feeling of not being able to keep up with technology remained.

Senior

After 10+ years of experience, I worked with many technologies. So much, actually, that my muscle memory cannot keep up. I can quickly regain the old muscle memories, but depending on how long I have not worked with a specific technology, there are additional updates to learn. New features are added, and old ones got removed and replaced. Old best practices became antipatterns, old antipatterns became the new recommendation. Just to not confuse you.

I am aware of some facts about how the mind and human memory work. We have a short memory for things that happen at the moment. We have an intermediate memory for things that are used and have happened lately. Also, for things that we try to learn. Then we got long-term memories. If you know your computer enough, these are similar to the RAM, the SSD, and then the memory tapes that are, although slow, can save a tremendous amount of data for a long time safely.

We as humans have a limited capacity as well. Our mind has to optimize itself to remain efficient. That is why when we change focus to use a new technology that does the same thing as the previous technology, our minds have to reuse our quick memory and flush our existing knowledge into the long memories that are harder to reach. Just like computers do when loading up a program.

Although knowing these help, living these facts is really frustrating.

I know I can write React code quite efficiently and quickly. Although I could not remember much when it came to writing code. I know that after revisiting the docs and writing a few lines of code, all will come back. Although sadly, my Angular skills will get reduced in favor of React. It might be just me, but that is how I experience this.

What about you? What is your experience and opinion about this? Do you have any recommendations on how to conquer this feeling and remember all the skills we had on the spot when we want to use them?

By Botond Bertalan

I am the founder of www.botond.dev
I started my programming studies in 2010 and started to work professionally in 2012 before graduation.
I love programming and architecting code that solves real business problems and gives value for the end-user.

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