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Karolina Szczur

This is the second time I’m writing a year in review. Still trying to find the best format for reflections and a framework for goal-setting for the year to come. If you’ve never written one before, I strongly recommend it as a great form of remembering your own achievements (and struggles!).

The way I can sum up 2018 is: it’s been a year.

Work #

In April, after wrapping the last CSSConf↗ and JSConf Australia, I begin looking for a job that aligns with my values and career goals. Turns out finding remote work that’s not US-centric, in a diverse and inclusive company is enough requirements to halt conversations with most of the 50 companies I was interviewing with.

Organizations which live up to their values, foster inclusion, take care of their employees and offer interesting roles are, sadly, still very scarce. I say “no” to many Silicon Valley clichés (cryptocurrencies, 100% white and/or male startups, being hired in one role but also coaching everyone on diversity and inclusion, hilariously bad remote practices, abysmal culture and glorification of “the hustle” to name a few).

Luckily, I stumble upon an opening at Help Scout↗, one of remote product companies I’ve been looking up to and following for a long time and end up being hired as a front-end engineer on the design team.

It ends up being the best job I’ve ever had. Everyday I’m humbled to be working with such talented, empathetic people committed to excellence on every front. Hats down to my design team friends.

THelp Scout design team at the offsite in Hilton Head, SC, posing on the beach. There is one person piggybacking another.

In my spare time I still advise my partner↗ on his SaaS business—Calibre↗ (if you’re after a web performance and user experience monitoring tool, look no further).

Writing #

I love writing but this past year my anxiety flare ups were so severe I couldn’t find enough focus and worry-free times to be publishing.

I did write several presentations (more about that below), what I liberated myself from in 2018↗, a D&I report for JSConf and CSSConf Australia↗ and how we should all be an inclusion rider when choosing to partake in tech conferences↗.

I’ve decided to move away from Medium and own all of my content, so going forward I’ll be working on making my blog feature-complete and publishing solely here. I currently don’t nor intend to use any tracking, so your privacy is protected, too.

Speaking #

Karolina on stage at DDD Perth. She looks focused as is mildly gesturing.

I was intending on limiting my speaking engagements in 2018 but, in reality, I’ve doubled the number of talks compared to the previous year:

All of the talks touched on subjects I’m deeply passionate about: equality, inclusion, allyship, ethical technology and design as well as anxiety, burnout and surviving in the hyper-connected world.

I don’t expect to be doing any public speaking in 2019 but, as always, it might change if a value-aligned opportunity presents itself.

Diversity and inclusion activism #

This was my biggest failure of 2018. Mid-year my anxiety drastically worsened. I was unable to use social media or deliver on my Patreon promises (I suspended the campaign). To be honest, all of my energy was focused on simply surviving and showing up to work.

If you’re one of my backers—I truly value your support and am sorry for the lack of transparency and delivery. I still care deeply about D&I and all of the projects surrounding these issues but I had to step back to take care of myself. I’m hoping to get back on the publishing track in 2019 and continue advocating for fighting inequality.

Traveling #

Turns out, that even on “a year without travel” I ended up in nine cities, four countries and covering 143,000 kilometers (Australia is fabulous but incredibly far from anything, really) visiting the following:

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Kraków, Poland (twice)
  • Boston, USA
  • Perth, Australia
  • Portland, USA
  • Hilton Head, USA
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Canberra, Australia
  • Singapore

Apart from old favorites, I’ve seen new places and stayed at a handful of beautiful design hotels (if you don’t know this about me yet, I do spend a long time researching experiences and book only things that fulfill my high standards; sometimes it gets quite hilarious) such as Puro↗ (Kraków), The Alex↗ (Perth), The Paramount House↗ and The Warehouse↗ (Singapore).

I’ve already planned two trips for 2019 (Lisbon, Kraków and a road trip through New Zealands’ South Island) but otherwise I’ll try keeping it local.

Personal #

As you might have noticed, the overarching theme of 2018 was, sadly, anxiety. While I’ve managed to keep up most of self-care routines, I kept losing all the battles. Despite many positive aspects, it was quite a dark and stressful year, leading to anxiety-related health problems that I’m hoping to fully diagnose and address. I’m deeply grateful for everyone who weathered the storm with me.

I’ll be publishing about my experience, struggle and coping mechanisms soon.

There were a few highlights though, such as good friends getting married, engaged, having ridiculously cute kids or my parents travelling out of Europe for the first time, all the way to Australia!

Onwards, 2019 #

I’m not someone who commits to resolutions, instead I identify guiding values and areas of focus to cultivate:

  • Self-care and wellbeing
  • Friends, family, loved ones
  • Meaningful, impactful work
  • Inclusion and equality
  • Creativity and embracing failure

How was your 2018? What are you focusing on for the year to come?