In this article, I want to share with all the community the interviews I conducted with two friends and colleagues, Monica Godoy and Daniel Bozzolo, as well as my own experience as a developer. Our main objective is to motivate young people and anybody who would want to dabble in the world of developing, to have an idea of what we went through to become developers.
To achieve that, we’ll answer the following questions:
- Who or what influenced you to become a developer?
- In your opinion, which would be the first steps to follow in order to become a developer?
- What advice would you give someone who wants to start on this path?
Who or what influenced you to become a developer?
“At the time I was wondering what to study, there were a few movies about hackers and that really caught my attention. However, they never taught me that at the university, and I focused on something totally different, which is bringing an idea to life through software. Currently, I really enjoy it very much.”
“Well the story could be long or short. To make it short, many things happened. My main interest was to study electronics. At that time, the faculty (Universidad de la República) had a basic curriculum oriented towards civil engineering. Then I started teaching private math classes to high school and university students (test preparation). After that I studied a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Math at the Universidad de la República. Since I already had taken math in engineering, I only needed to take one subject: computer science, Pascal programming. That was my first contact with this field.
The second contact, my father brought an American computer home and I had no option but to learn how to use it (an 8086 with two 5¼ floppy disk drives with no hard drive, memory… I think 512). At the same time, I started studying electronics in a private school, and I ran into an old classmate from the basic curriculum who was going to take a class to work on a project building a circuit to control motors. We did it together. When we were studying, he told me, “Haven’t you seen that they changed the Computer Science curriculum at the university? Why don’t you go? And I didn’t stop. Once you start taking a liking to it…”
“When I started studying engineering in Information Systems, I didn’t know where my career would go. Neither did I know exactly what a systems engineer was. I only knew it was the career of the future.
I remember when I was in the fourth year of my degree, a Quality Systems professor, Mr. Cuevas, gave us the homework of reading the book titled “El Hombre Mediocre” (The Mediocre Man) by Jose Ingenieros. Reading it led me to the conclusion that mediocrity is the mother of all vices, and human behavior and society’s downfall. Conversely, my mother, a Ukrainian immigrant who is now 82 years old, used to tell me always: “Laziness is the mother of poverty.” With those two ideas in mind, I always tried to not be mediocre and work hard to achieve my dreams.
In 2005 the opportunity of a lifetime came through: working for the Argentinian Air Force in a great project that involved developing the first flight hour computer system. We called it SIRCAV. The system needed to meet the needs of 13 air units in the country by keeping track of hours and professional training for the military pilots. That’s where I became a developer, with a lot of patience, study, and a big desire to continue learning. I had a lot of challenges and I always remembered those ideas “laziness is the mother of poverty” and “mediocrity is the mother of all vices”. That’s what motivated me to never give up when having a problem, to learn to research, analyze, ask for help, share what I’ve learned and better myself every day, always with humility and a lot of passion. Because when one becomes a developer, one becomes a creator, and to have the possibility of using your creativity to create systems that help people and the environment to be better, that’s what makes the difference.”
In your opinion, which would be the first steps to follow in order to become a developer?
“To become a very good developer, you need to learn to think structurally, organize your ideas, and devote yourself to learning quickly. You can learn this in Programming Fundamentals or computational algorithms, and on the Internet you can find some free courses.
“First, love what you do. Respect who you work for, be it clients or users from the same company. Responsibility.
Then… enjoy it. One thing is true, when you’re at college and you say you’re studying to become an analyst or an engineer, it’s not true. It’s just the start of your studies, and if you want to be really good, you’ll never stop studying.”
“First of all, I think you have to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I creative?
- Do I have structural thinking?
- Am I self-taught?
- Can I study alone?
- Can I work without supervision?
- Can I work in a team?
- Can I delegate tasks?
- Can I think beyond what’s written and planned?
Right now these are some of the questions I’d ask myself. Second, I think that if you’re studying and want to change careers, the first thing you need to know is what you’d like to work on, such as developing desktop applications, mobile ones, for databases, etc. Once you define that, find out which are the most used programming languages in those areas and take classes to gain knowledge because not everything is taught at the university. You need to be proactive. People that look beyond what they receive at school are the ones who usually get better opportunities.
Sign up for forums and communities for developers. You’ll find there are many tips that can help you in your education.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to start on this path?
“Advice? (laughs) A lot of people would say ‘No! Do not study systems engineering. You won’t have a social life.’ And yes, it could be true for many that hold this degree since a lot of projects have to be done when the clients are sleeping and are not using the system. This is something to think about so you don’t have to regret it later.
After clarifying this, it’s very important to be able to communicate in English. Most of the documents are in this language. We cannot ignore that if we want to advance in our career so it’s crucial to master it.”
“Study a lot, work on a team, share your knowledge with others, and go back and forth. And most of all, to enjoy and want to do what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not for you.”
“The most important thing for me is to have a passion for what you do. This career allows you to build a very close relationship with clients, users, teammates, etc. And it’s very important to work with humility, respect and to have good people skills because many times you need to be not only the developer but a person that listens beyond the simple requirements.
Also, I’m convinced that having a mentor in your professional life allows you to grow from their experience. I assure you, one can learn more from people than from something that is written.”
In conclusion, we all agree that this career is an incredible profession, highly dynamic, and you meet extraordinary people. Something really nice for young people is that it allows them to travel and to see the world and its different cultures.
Nowadays technology is developing at a speed never seen before. That’s why it’s very important to keep up to date about technological developments, to learn the new programming languages, understand data structures, and new algorithms. Definitively, reinvent yourself every day, continue learning and also, why not get rid of our old programming habits. Everything changes and as developers; we need to learn from those changes to provide better information solutions to our clients.
If you love what you do, it will reflect on your software development and you’ll have happier people around you!
Mónica is from Cali, Colombia, with 10 years of experience in software development. She currently works as a Freelance Technology Consultant, enthusiast and web application developer at Oracle APEX. She founded the meetup of Oracle APEX Colombia in 2015 to make this great tool known in her country and in that way to boost the companies.
Daniel is from Uruguay. He is a Computer Analyst at the University of the Republic, specializing in Oracle development tools: Forms, Reports, PL/SQL, APEX, as well as Oracle ERP eBS.
He has more than 22 years of experience. His work experience varies between working in the state insurance company in Uruguay (BSE) and a company of which he is one of the partners, “Logos Consulting”, in addition to participating in projects for Uruguay, Spain, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
He is also a board member of the Oracle Users Group of Uruguay (UYOUG), as well as an APEX presenter at various events such as OTN, APEX Tour, Developer Tour in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
He is also a trainer at Oracle University. He has attended all Oracle Open World in Latin America and two Oracle Open World conferences in San Francisco.
Clarisa Maman Orfali
Clarisa is from Argentina. She is Founder and Director at ClarTech Solutions, Inc. a company dedicated to development, consultancy and training in Information Technologies located in Southern California in the United States.
She is a Systems Engineer with more than 15 years of experience in systems development. She was introduced in Oracle Technologies in 2009; a few years later she discovered Oracle Application Express (APEX) and has specialized since then in that area.
She is also Co-Founder of the Oracle Users Group of Argentina (AROUG) and founder of Oracle APEX Latin America meetup, has also actively participated in the organization and as presenter at big and popular events such as the OTN Tour and the Oracle APEX Tour of Latin America. In 2014 was recognized by the Oracle Corporation with the Oracle ACE Award. She is also the author of the first two books in Spanish about Oracle APEX.