Emily Shea


My blog on learning AWS cloud technology & building serverless apps 🌻

2021 in review

Personal Jan 15 2022

Through the ups-and-downs of 2021, there's a lot of great things to look back on - personal coding projects progress, speaking, a new role at AWS, new hobbies, and getting to do a little bit of travel! Here are my highlights of things I worked on in 2021.

Coding projects

My main personal coding project this year was refactoring my Chinese vocab app to make way for exciting new features. My app's data storage architecture was cobbled together over time and would have continued to get messier as I added additional features. I decided it was the best time to pause and plan out a cleaner data model that would support all the features I wanted to build.

With my new data model planned out, I consolidated my data storage (previously multiple DynamoDB tables and S3 files) into a unified single table design in DynamoDB, implemented the majority of the data migration, and released a new feature - user profiles! Check out the new UI below.

I've learned so much throughout this process, both about AWS services like DynamoDB and Cognito and about refactoring applications. I've started writing function code unit tests, standardizing the way I interact with the data layer, and have (mostly) overcome my intimidation around building applications with user authentication. I'm really pleased to see my app mature and code quality improve over time!

My goal this year for the app is to finish implementing my database design and release the last three features I have in mind (pronunciation audio, quiz storage, and practice sentences). I'd like to free up time to try out other projects - it's hard to believe I've been working on this one since 2019! I also have a backlog of blog posts that are 75% complete on a few of these topics that would be nice to publish 😅 so keep an eye out if you're interested to learn more!


I had a few incredible speaking opportunities this year. I loved being a part of Serverless Live with Ben Smith and getting my own Serverless Chats interview with Rebecca Marshburn and Jeremy Daly! Even though it was smaller this year, it was such a joy to be at re:Invent in person again.

Serverless Live, May 2021

Serverless Chats, Sept. 2021

re:Invent, Dec. 2021

New role

Towards the end of 2021, I got the amazing opportunity to take on a new role at AWS leading GTM for some of my all-time favorite services - EventBridge and Step Functions! I had an awesome time working on the EventBridge launch back in 2019, and the new Step Functions features like the Workflow Studio visual editor are so cool. I'm really looking forward to working with customers on these two services in 2022!


This year I read 22 books, up from 16 last year. This number is inflated with bad paperback sci-fi, but some of my favorite reads this year were Jane Eyre (Dear Reader, I was not prepared for the Gothic horror elements), and Master & Commander (the level of mundane detail about 1800s Royal Navy life is wonderful).


I learned how to follow knitting patterns this year! I learned basic stitches a long time ago but have only ever made simple scarves. With plenty of lockdown free time, I decided to try a more complex pattern and had a lot of fun with it. So far I've made a sweater vest and a pair of socks, and I've accumulated entirely too much yarn.

Exploring London & beyond

While we moved to London just in time for a lockdown in January, we were able to get out and explore later in the year! Some of my favorite places have been Kew Gardens, the Harry Potter studio tour, and Bath.

We also made it across the Channel twice - once to the south of France with friends and once to meet colleagues in Amsterdam.

Those are my 2021 highlights! I hope you're staying healthy and looking forward to a great 2022.


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