Meet Ronan .👋. He was working as a professional trumpet player and teacher, but wanted a higher salary, more flexibility and more security. He decided to take the leap into Web Development around 3 years ago, joining Spiced in 2018. We caught up with him to find out about some of the challenges, benefits and surprises of life as a developer.
Hi Ronan! WOW it’s been a while… how are you?
True that! I am doing great, thanks 🙂
Can you open by telling us a little about your educational and professional background before joining Spiced?
Sure. Before Spiced I had studied classical trumpet from a very young age up to college in Berlin where I finished my Diploma (which is a German degree equivalent to a Masters). Professionally I had been teaching and playing trumpet as a freelancer.
You completed Spiced’s Full Stack course 3 years ago! What have you been up to since then?
During my final weeks at Spiced I heard I had been selected for the Google Developer Challenge Nanodegree program held at Udacity. So I spent three more months finishing up that Front End Course.
Right after completion I started being contacted by recruiters, and so the madness of messaging and calling with them began. A few weeks passed, and after some failed interviews I got a job as a Full Stack Developer at Krieger Online Services. After a year in that position I found a better suiting position at Audibene, where I’ve been for the past 2 years. I have since been promoted to a mid-level software engineer position.
How difficult was your job search after the course?
I was amazed by how many jobs there were and how many recruiters were scheduling interviews to be honest. The difficult part was to constantly hear: “You would do great but unfortunately we are looking for someone with more experience”. That happened even after passing some of the coding challenges.
Tell us a bit about your company, Audibene?
Audibene is awesome! They offer a flexible work environment (even before Corona you could pretty much work from anywhere), they provide employees with the opportunity to grow, either through study time or materials. I have had one hour of study time daily ever since I started in the company. Right from the beginning I expressed the desire to be mentored by one of the senior developers and they were more than happy to provide a mentor. They also offer a budget for personal development so you can purchase courses, books, etc.
What does your day to day look like?
I usually start at 9:00 am with an hour of study time, mostly at the office. At 10 o’clock we have our Stand Up meeting to go over what we’re currently working on. After that I might grab the next task and start tackling it. We also work a lot in pair programming which I really enjoy. I work until 5ish.
How did Spiced prepare you for your role as a Full Stack Engineer at Audibene?
Endurance, perseverance, LinkedIn preparation and salary negotiation were the best tools I got from Spiced. I really felt immersed in coding and this has helped me since then.
What has surprised you about being a developer?
The high salaries and the huge amount of jobs out there. As an orchestra musician you can expect that 3-5 positions will become available in Germany during an entire year. People from all over the world come to apply and audition to get these. As a developer, the moment I posted my certificate on LinkedIn literally the next day I received the first phone call inviting me for an interview.
It was also surprising to me the fact that most of the time developers are solving problems rather than creating new things.
What’s a career in Web Development like, what are some of the challenges?
It is a continuous learning process in a fast evolving environment. It was and sometimes still is challenging. The vocabulary and acronyms in programming and working processes, the huge amount of tools used, and different solutions to the same problems can be overwhelming.
In the beginning I didn’t know how often and whom to ask for help for fear of losing my job. It is important to figure out as soon as possible who you can ask for support because it makes the first steps as a junior developer much easier and enjoyable.
And what are some of the best things?
To be honest I find the industry “spoils” developers for the lack of qualified workers. Working hours are usually very flexible, salaries are way above average, holidays differ but depending on negotiation can easily be above 30 days a year, etc. Most companies have a decent budget for self development which I really like.
I love that this job requires you to continuously learn. If you want to succeed and enjoy being a developer you have to constantly study, ask, research and grow.
Take us back to that day you decided you wanted to study Web Development – what was driving you?
It was a combination of things. I was looking for a secure and challenging job that I liked doing. If possible, it would pay a good salary, and allow me to work from anywhere. Also, I was looking for something where I could have a big chance of getting a job.
Why did you choose to study at Spiced? What made the course stand out?
I mainly chose Spiced because while looking for courses I ended up reading that the german government could possibly finance it with an Education Voucher. Then I double checked the technologies and decided it would be a good fit for me.
What was the most challenging aspect of the course?
The huge amount of work and the fast pace.
What was your favourite aspect of the course?
The fact that I received training not only in coding but also for the interviews, LinkedIn, and salary negotiation. Also that I had at least some contact with lots of different technologies helped me answer interview questions saying I had already seen them.
What’s one thing you wish you’d have known before you started your journey to be a web developer?
I wish I would have been better prepared to handle the impostor syndrome. It’s quite common to feel like an impostor in a new career but I wasn’t expecting this feeling would be so present.
Many people are currently working remotely, how are you finding that? What are your tips and tricks to stay focused, productive and in a good mood?
As a professional musician I was trained at an early age to be productive, focused and self-motivated, so this was not at all new to me. The long hours musicians have to study their instrument daily and by themselves taught me the discipline I needed now
One thing one can use to stay focused while working remotely is the pomodoro technique. Set some time to work with regular breaks and take notes on things you still want to accomplish during the day.
Describe your time at Spiced in 3 words?
Exhausting, challenging, necessary.
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