A completely unfiltered, untouched story from our self taught lead software developer.
Tell me about your role at Haystack?
As is the nature of startups, we wear many hats, from the app users see to the servers that power the data the matching, I’m involved in everything product-related at Haystack. And now that we’re expanding the focus is grooming our new techies to push the next generation of very exciting features!
How and why did you get into Software Development?
My journey into coding started when I took on a website project and quickly realised I bit off more than I could chew! To complete the project I started taking looking up tutorials, video courses and anything I could get my hands on… two months late but did deliver the project, which I should have had charged a lot more for! But I did find something I really enjoyed doing, coding is basically a problem-solving game, and you can have a lot of fun solving it. I continue to do the online courses I signed up for and year and a half after I got my first job in tech and the rest is history.
What did you find most challenging and useful when self-learning?
Are there any specific tools or resources you like to use to develop your knowledge?
Build up your knowledge base, either you use notes, markdown, blogging or Notion. I find it super helpful to build my own documentation of the technologies, not only as a learning process but also for later days. Imagine you’re working on a complex database query for 2 weeks straight to develop those analytics charts your boss asked for, 5 months go by and you need to fix a bug… and… it’s all Chinese now 😬. I also find it as a therapeutic tool to offload information from my mind and close-off a project.
Build a library of bookmarks on your browser. The documentation websites you check out every day (e.g. reactjs.org, docs.mongodb.com), resources you can download (e.g. icons, fonts, freebies). Mine bookmarks are in the hundreds but I also keep the ones I use the most on my toolbar for quick access.
Twitter is often a good place to be at the forefront of technologies news. Most popular technologies will have a Twitter page, and it’s usually where new major releases are first announced. It’s also good to see what’s been retweeted, often you’ll find cool projects other devs are doing with that library. Follow a couple of developers that you’re working on the tools you like, for example, if you use React, follow @reactjs and Dan Abramov @dan_abramov.
How did you get your first job in a Development role?
Through a recruiter, I quit the 2nd day…
You’re promised a role within a growing company, with big brand clients and innovative projects. On your first day, you realise it’s an obscure office, the clients are Government programs and you have to support Internet Explorer 6.
Recruiters (with a few exceptions) see developers as nails to a hammer. Someone is willing to pay handsomely to fill a job vacancy, no one cares if that job will fit their abilities or actually be interesting. I had much better luck with my second recruiter because I learned my lesson and I was crystal clear about what kind of roles I was interested in.
A big reason I was really interested in joining Haystack was helping to solve the riddle of job placement in the tech scene.
A lot of the work we’re doing in making sure we can match techies to interesting jobs by picking up what technologies they’re interested in. And behind the scenes, there’s a lot of new exciting features to come, like matching users on culture values, office vibes, benefits and perks. Digital (CV) profiles, 1 to 1 direct chat with employers, jobs applications status updates, and many more.
Do you have any tips or guidance for those who are wanting to become a developer?
You don’t need a diploma, you don’t need a programming background, I didn’t either. If it’s something you’re interested in just give it a try. There’s a lot of resources online, where you’ll learn through super intuitive courses with videos, quizzes, and code challenges. I would recommend teamtreehouse.com they have really starting courses for people that never coded before, I started myself there.
Try a lot of technologies before deciding on one, play often, break things, prototype a lot and show it to the world.
For new developers looking to land their first job, my advice is, publish your code often! Either to our portfolio, codepen or codesandbox. Make it a practice to share things often so you build a showcase of things employers can see you’ve done. Diplomas mean very little in this industry.