Meet Christo 👋 . When the pandemic slowed down his work in the fashion industry he saw an opportunity to go back to his roots in Web Development. He spoke to us about his journey from being a childhood computer wiz in East Germany to a budding web developer today in Berlin.
Hi Christo! Thanks for talking to us 🙂 Tell us a little about your educational and professional background?
Yes, it’s quite diverse! Years ago I did a bachelor’s in international media and computing, but I didn’t really work in those fields. I did something completely different in the costume making and fashion industry for a couple of years and then started teaching textiles and textile art. All the time I was doing little jobs here and there, just web designing friend’s websites and portfolios and stuff, but mostly I was teaching and making art and costumes.
You live in Berlin, could you tell us a little about how you find living there, and how you’re finding the job search at the moment?
So I basically just started two weeks ago to get all of my application documents ready and I sent off the first applications at the end of last week. I feel like there’s so many open positions not just in Berlin, but even in other places. I mean the job is so good to find remote work. So I’m not just focussing on finding something in Berlin. I’m pretty motivated and pretty excited to find a job. I hope it’s not going to take very long.
What sparked your interest in web development in the first place?
My dad was a big influence, he’s a programmer. He grew up in East Germany and he was maybe one of the first people who studied software engineering. Pretty early on we had a computer and we were the first people in the street who had internet, though we didn’t even have sewage or anything like that because we lived in a village.
I think I made my own first really cringe website in 2001, it was a Harry Potter fan page and I was 12 or 13. So I was always interested in the internet, computers and programming. He showed me a couple of things and then I learned some stuff in school and taught myself the basics. So in the end when I finished school I was like yeah that’s probably the right way to go, do something with computers.
When you were looking for a course to study, what drew you to Spiced? What made the course stand out?
I did do some online courses before but I felt like, in the eight years that I haven’t done much in programming, I missed out on a lot of development and improvement. So I wanted a course that was well organised, structured and offered day-to-day routines.
I found a couple of bootcamps out there but Spiced was one of the ones that just interested me the most. I don’t even know why, it just looks fresher and a bit more modern and dynamic. It felt younger. Some of the other ones just didn’t really feel like they were up to date, which is maybe just me having a prejudice about online appearances, but yeah!
When you did the course, what did you find to be the most challenging aspect?
Time was definitely one of the aspects. I knew it would be a full-time training but it ended up sometimes being like a 60 hour week. Just because I needed weekends to look through the material of the previous week or to finish off projects. I kind of knew that it was going to happen so I was prepared and I was willing to do that but some days I barely slept and just worked so much, so that was quite challenging.
Then also the pace was pretty fast. Some weeks it was easier because I had some previous knowledge or I knew some basics already. But if it was something completely new that was introduced in the morning and then had to be used in some homework, or a project in the afternoon that had to be done on the next day, that was sometimes a bit stressful.
But in the end it’s just a three month course. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s definitely doable!
So, on the opposite end of the spectrum, what was your favourite aspect of the course?
Learning all of these new things and working on projects. I feel like the second half of the course was – not that the first half was less fun – but the second half was more interesting to me because we worked on longer projects that took like a week or two.
Also the final project, we just had to come up with our own idea which for me was a very personal project, so definitely that was the best part. In the final project, instead of doing a solo project, I decided to work with one of my colleagues. That was a really, really nice experience to have that feeling of working in a team even if it’s just two people. Making those experiences like how to communicate in a team and how to find a compromise when you have two different opinions.
Can you tell me a little bit about your instructors, how you found working with them?
My instructors were Diego and David with Diego teaching the bigger part of the classes. They were both really, really awesome instructors. Even though they had two different ways of teaching, I thought the mix was really nice. Diego has a real hands-on approach – showing us as much code, techniques and tricks as possible.
David, on the other hand, would talk us through every single aspect of the problem and the solution. He would not show us the code but he would train us to think and consider all possible outcomes and problems we might run into before we start coding.
I feel like it was good to have both of these different approaches.
That sounds good! What would you say to someone that’s thinking about taking Spiced’s Web Development course?
I would say do the prep course, the one that’s before the actual course. Have a look into that and see if you really like it, because it’s going to be very intense and time-consuming.
Also be prepared that you may have to put some of the other aspects of your life on hold for a couple of weeks. If you’re willing to do that and if you’re willing to do these three intense months it’s going to be super rewarding. You’re going to take a lot of new skills and a really nice network with you. The whole Spiced community and Spiced network is like an extra on top of all the skills and things you learn!
What made you want to join a bootcamp during Coronavirus? Did the global situation affect your thinking in any way?
It was a mix of reasons – the effects of the pandemic on the industry I was working in resulting in fewer jobs and work was definitely one of them. I would also say that I always loved programming and it felt natural to go back and pick things up where I left them after I finished my bachelor in Media & Computing. So the pandemic was a nice little push in that way (as nice as a pandemic can be).
If you could sum up Spiced in 3 words, what would they be?
Really intense fun.