2021 Annual Review – What didn’t go as planned?

written by Marie January 23, 2022

Here is now the sixth annual article where I revisit the year that has just ended (2016201720182019, 2020). Time passes so fast! As of this writing, it has been almost 4 months since I posted a new blog post. This is probably a record since I started Girl Knows Tech in March 2016. So, I believe this review will be very beneficial.

Here are the usual questions I’ll answer:

1- When was I proud of myself in 2021? What are the highlights of the year?
2- What did not go well this year?
3- What do I want to improve and what have I learned?

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What went well in 2021

Daily posts on Instagram – January

Screenshot of my Notion Dashboard where I plan my Instagram posts

The year started very well, as I was very active on Instagram. I posted almost every day, which is still a great achievement! I quickly realized that like so many things in life, it’s just about developing the habit.

Often times I don’t post on Instagram because I’m not “inspired”. Yet after 2-3 weeks of posting every day, being inspired or not becomes out of the question. Posting new content becomes a habit and there is always something interesting to share.

I hope that in 2022, I can get develop this habit yet again. Maybe I should read Atomic Habits

Working out regularly – January

The year started very while I did 21 workouts in a row from January 1 to 22, 2021… At the beginning of the year, I was using a dashboard on Notion to plan my workouts, so I was able to record all my training in a “habits” database. Very practical and visual!

I would love to have this feature with Apple Fitness! All the training data is already collected, why not offer a nice visualization interface to the users, for example on a monthly view!? It would be so great… but it’s not the point of this blog post! 🙂

Reached 50 000 followers on Instagram – February

During my first year on Instagram, I quickly hit 15,000 followers. On the other hand, for the next 3 years, let’s say that I won another 15,000 in 3 years rather than one. The arrival of reels has completely changed the game for me on this social network.

Reels are helpful to show my account to many more people than photos do, so that’s why I was able to grow my account so much this year. In January 2022, I’m currently at 65 000 followers, so if I have the same amazing growth this year, it would mean that I would reach 100 000 followers in 2022. This seems like a stretch, and I’m not even sure I actually want to have that many followers one day (it seems too many! lol!), but we’ll see what the future has in store for me.

Talk on “How to have motivation to Study” with Github Education – February

My first talk (that is not a panel) was with GitHub Education! I was really very happy to be able to collaborate with such a famous organization! The title of my presentation was “15 Tips for Getting Motivated to Study” and it went really well. About a hundred people were there asking questions, so it was a great interactive presentation!

Final submission of my master’s thesis – March

Screnshot of the first page of my master's thesis

I think it’s on March 8, 2021, exactly, that I submitted my thesis. I was SO relieved to submit my brief. You can’t imagine how great! It was a lot of work between December and March, to really finalize the thesis as much as possible.

I realized on several occasions that I had made multiple errors that were not insignificant and required me to reproduce the experiments in full. So it was a lot of stress and doubts not being able to finish on time. In the end, I succeeded, and I was even more proud of my memory since I had managed to correct all these errors and not let them go.

Thesis defense – April

Screenshot of the zoom of when I successfully defended my thesis - 2021 annual review

After so many months of hard work, on April 17th, I FINALLY defended my thesis! I was so afraid of having questions and having difficulty answering or not knowing how to answer. I also shared tips on how to prepare for defending a thesis in a previous blog post.

Turns out, it went super well!

Working full time as a content creator – May

After defending my master’s degree, I really wanted to take time for myself. In normal times (pre-pandemic), I imagine I would have gone on a trip, but it was not possible. So I decided to do something else that I also dreamed of: take time to work full time on Girl Knows Tech.

It actually worked very well. I have made several beautiful collaborations on Instagram (Coursera, Google Play, PrimeCables, and more) and on my blog (Eidos Montreal, Mastercard / Girls4Code, Taskade). I loved this time spent devoting myself to my passion, on the other hand, I must say that I prefer to have a fixed income rather than a variable one by being self-employed. That’s a question I get asked a lot, so no: I don’t think I want to do Girl Knows Tech full time anytime soon.)

Trip to Chicago – August

Chicago is a city I have dreamed of visiting for a long time! For no particular reason, I’m not sure why this city appealed to me so much. Very happy to report that I was able to travel and visit for 3 days without catching the Covid. What a feat!

It was also my first trip with my lover to a place neither of us had been before… Hope we can travel again this summer! Look at my reels which show the highlights of my trip.

Job search (September and October) and getting my fist permanent position (November)

As of September 1, I went into intensive search mode for a permanent job in machine learning. I practiced on Leetcode, Hackerrank, then I applied. Here is my job search in numbers:

  • 30 applications
  • 36 interviews
  • 3 rejections
  • 4 offers

It took at least 4 to 5 weeks before I started to hear back from my first applications, and then I started getting 2-3 meetings every day for almost 3 weeks.

What helped me a lot was having a first offer. Then, I communicated this offer to my other ongoing interviewers, it speeded everything up, and I was able to have my 4 offers in hand to make a final decision!

Finally, I accepted the offer from Croesus, a Laval FinTech company. I’m a research developer in NLP (Natural Language Processing), and I love my job. This is exactly the kind of job I wanted!

Rising Star Award from the Startup Community Awards – December

Official picture of when I received the award - 2021 annual review

It was a big surprise for me, but an anonymous person nominated me for the “Rising Star of the Year” category at the Startup Community Awards. This prize aims to reward a new recruit within the Montreal startup community. I have been involved in the Montreal community since 2016, but I feel like I received this award as an encouragement for all my efforts since 2016 and to highlight my arrival on the job market.

Thanks again to everyone who voted for me – the public vote counted for 50%, then it was up to the committee to make the final decision.

What didn’t go as well?

Rejection from a company where I previously worked

Well… this anecdote is (in my opinion) still quite funny! A little embarrassing too, but hey, I have fun when I share what happened, and can laugh about it.

I applied for a data scientist position in a company where I had worked in the past (and I had stellar feedback from coworkers and supervisors during my time there). Well, out of all the companies I applied to, their “technical test” was the toughest! The questions were all about theoretical mathematics, statistics, theory. If I remember correctly, I got 27% on the technical test. It was truly catastrophic.

I was still able to go to the next step and do a technical interview with employees on Zoom, but again, their questions – although easier – were still difficult and unexpected, so it didn’t go very well either.

In the end, even though I had a super positive experience in this company, I was still rejected… 😂

I didn’t workout as much in Q3-Q4

I also had a little more neck pain during this time so I think there is a direct link that can surely be made… I am trying to get back to it. However, the gyms are closed at this time (lockdown), and my basement has a dangerous amount of radon, so we’ll see…

There is a dangerous amount of radon gas in my house…

Radon is a radioactive gas that naturally escapes into nature. The problem is that when it escapes under a house, the gas remains trapped inside and can rise to a very dangerous level for health. It started with my neighbor who saw an advertisement for radon on Facebook and decided to test his house: the long-term concentration was at 1000 Bq/m3!

In Canada, the radon level must be below 200 Bq/m3 to be safe (and again, the lower the better!) So I decided to buy this electronic device to have an immediate response on the radon level in my home. Unsurprisingly, I have the same results as my neighbor in the basement. As for the ground floor, the measure is still short-term, but in 2 days it has varied from 300 to 600! This is huge for the first floor where, of course, we spend a lot of time!

Here are a few resources to get informed about radon in your home (because it’s in every home!):

What do I want to improve?

Create more content on social media

As I talked about it before, posting content becomes much easier when it becomes a daily habit. When you post every day, posting or not posting on a certain day isn’t even a question anymore: you absolutely have to.

Now that I have a full-time job, I need to find a better balance. Since I usually work from 9 am to 5 pm, it’s difficult for me to do like when I was a student and post on Instagram at any time of the day in a spontaneous way. Also, no way to record a reel or take a candid shot – I’m working! It has to be planned a little in advance, which is difficult!

Yes, it’s easy to say “every Sunday, I’m going to sit down and plan my week of publications”, but in reality, it’s a little more difficult. Every Sunday, I already have to do my meal planning, go to the grocery store, then prepare the meals, etc.

Find a balance

As I just started a permanent job (I’m in my 3rd month!), it’s still new for me and I haven’t yet found a routine that allows me to combine my job and content creation well, exercise, etc.

Take charge of my finances

Now that I’m no longer a student, it’s time for me to educate myself and read as many financial resources as possible! Here are some Canadian websites on which I spend several hours these days:


Finally, 2021 was a year where I closed a big chapter in my life: I am no longer a student! I am now earning a salary, what a lifestyle change! Plus, I was able to find a job that I love with amazing colleagues – exactly in the field where I want to pursue my career.

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