Interview with Diana: Becoming a web dev with UPDIVISION


October 16th, 2018, posted in our_people
by admin


1) Diana, you’ve been working with UPDIVISION for over a year and a half. You’re also a third-year student at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science (University of Bucharest). You’ve grown with us from apprentice to junior developer and you’re leaving us to focus on finishing your degree. Tell us a bit about your journey. How do you feel you grew at UPDIVISION?


This was my first job, and it was an important learning experience. I’m happy that I had the chance to work on real projects for real clients at UPDIVISION and learn how to be part of an organization. It’s so different than doing projects just to learn. Working in a team means you have to follow some rules, learn good programming practices. This made me write cleaner and more optimized code, basically writing code that other people can easily understand and debug. I learned PHP, Laravel, Vue.js and other technologies. And this is mostly thanks to the mentors I had: Cristi, Indra and Alin. I learned a lot from the code they wrote and from the code reviews and feedback they gave me.

At the beginning, I worked on some tutorial-like projects, just to get the basics of programming in PHP and Laravel. After that I started working on projects for customers and the real fun began. I felt like I had a part in making things that were going to be used by real people out there. It was great to be given this opportunity and have people around who were willing to guide me.


2) What made you want to become a programmer with UPDIVISION?


I started programming when I was twelve, and was very lucky to have mentors along the way who inspired me.  A lot of them came from the GirlsGoIT program. This gave me the opportunity to talk about the realities of working in an IT company, and this helped me a lot. They also taught me the basics of programming and inspired me to choose a career in IT. So when I started University courses, I wanted to get a job and started looking for opportunities.

In April 2017, at the student job fair, I met people from UPDIVISION. I liked their presentation a lot, the people and their company culture. They seemed very friendly and understanding of the crazy schedule of a student. Plus, they seemed to have a lot of fun doing what they do. This was confirmed at the job interview, so I was very happy when I got the job.


3) What are the top three things you learned working at UPDIVISION?


1. First of all, I learned that you need other people and you need a team to build something. I’m thinking about mentors, but I also believe that people together are better than people individually. There’s an energy coming out of working with others on a project that you don’t get working alone. The best ideas come to you when you’re talking to others, trying to figure things out together. And sometimes googling something for long hours is not as helpful as asking a senior programmer about it.

2. You end up using a lot of what you study at University, so attending the classes and trying to do your best at your assignments is very useful for the job. For example, while working on a project’s frontend, I had to figure out how to dynamically render some connected circles with JavaScript, and it had to be mobile responsive. I realized that what I learned at the geometry course was very useful in solving this task. On the other side, working on some real-life projects to understand why and how many of the things you study about can actually be useful. So, it’s a two-way street.

3. PHP is actually cool, despite the rumours I’d heard. I had never written a line of code in PHP before working at UPDIVISION and had a bad impression about it, but my opinion changed.3.


4) Tell us about a project you did at UPDIVISION that you are especially proud of or that it was fun to work on.


One of the first real-world projects I worked on at UPDIVISION was eStarter, a customizable framework that allows you to build your own complex ecommerce platform. We used Laravel Backpack and we made the code open access. This was something that was actually going to be used by clients in the real world, and picked up by other developers. It was exciting to take part in building that.

Out of the more recent ones, I am really proud of my work on UpYourTime v.2, an online timesheet app designed for agile developers. We’re still working on it, but we’re close to finish. We’re doing unit testing and using the test-driven development (TDD) approach, where you write the tests first, then the code. And it’s very exciting. I liked that I got to use Laravel a lot for the backend side of things, and also worked on making an API. It was a cool project overall.


5) Where are you heading now? What are your plans for the future?


The short-term goal is finishing my degree and my graduation project at the University. After that, I’m thinking of doing an MA in Artificial Intelligence – either here in Bucharest or abroad. I think it’s a very interesting field and I want to learn more about it. I’m tempted to take a year off to prepare for it, but I’m afraid I’m just going to get hired and it would become difficult to get back to studies. So think I’ll just go ahead with an MA.


6) What advice would you give to those aspiring to become web developers? What would you have liked to know before you started on this path?


Web development (and programming more generally) is a very interesting and exciting field, so go for it. Yes, there are times when it’s hard, there’s a lot of work involved, but there is no time to get bored, because you can always learn new things. So, in the end, it’s all worth it.

Also, working while studying is a very interesting and useful experience. You realize most of what you learn might come in handy one day, and it motivates you to learn better. And it goes the other way: it’s not enough to just learn about programming, you also have to actually put it into practice. So, having a job while you’re studying is one of the best ways to do that.