The Passion that Drives Us: An Interview with Software Developer, Chris
By Christian Brown, Social Media Manager
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If you’re in the tech industry or find yourself interested in what makes the world spin, you’ve probably been made aware of the small impact that technology has had in the last 10 years. Okay, perhaps “small” was the wrong word, maybe “unprecedented” or “history-making” would be better.
We see this largely on a macro level in the pursuit of sustainable energy, new streaming services, the discoveries within our solar system, and the culture-shifting breakthroughs from the most influential companies the world has ever known. Each of which are newsworthy pieces that continue to shape the way we operate on a big picture and day-to-day basis. But what about the people who make those things happen?
While not every piece of technology –and by effect, every person that works on it– fundamentally changes the way the world runs, I think it’s safe to say nearly every new piece of technology does change the efficiency of the companies involved. This is especially true within the field of IT.
For a more introspective and personal look into this, I sat down with the light-hearted and enthusiastic Chris Mellor, a developer at Technology Partners, as he shared his personal perspective, journey, and thoughts, on the ever-changing playing field of technology.
There is sometimes a preconception of fear surrounding the barrier of entry in becoming a developer. What has your experience been in breaking into what seems to be a constantly changing and challenging career field?
Chris: IT is such an interesting field because it is so incredibly vast. There are many facets to software development alone, much less the overarching “IT” field itself. Probably the most challenging part of breaking into IT is the same thing that continues to be the most challenging part on a daily basis, which is believing your skills are valuable enough to keep you where you are, or get you there in the first place. Some people call it imposter syndrome. When you’re staring up at a mountain, it, of course, seems insurmountable. When you’re looking at the dozens, if not hundreds, of languages, frameworks, databases, job titles, certifications, etc… and you only possess skills that are applicable to a fraction of them, it can feel very overwhelming and make it difficult to see the value in the things you do have to offer. So, there’s a lot of fear when you’re breaking into the field because you don’t have any real perspective on what you can possibly contribute when you [feel like] you know so little.
IT attracts people from a variety of backgrounds; do you think there is a “definitive path” that someone should take?
Chris: I do think there is a definitive path, but I think it’s different for everyone. There exists a path for everyone that is full of opportunity to grow, learn, flourish, and excel, where you can work harder than you ever have before but at the end of the day you’re left feeling renewed and refreshed because you’re operating in your strengths and working toward something you’re passionate about. I mentioned earlier how big of a field software development is, and I think the first step, when deciding to break into development, is taking the time to learn about the different facets it offers and deciding on what part excites and motivates you. There is no “easy” way to become a developer. For some people, it means going to college to get a CS degree, others may attend a tech bootcamp, some people teach themselves everything they know, and some people have a combination of all of those things. All involve hard work, and all of them are easy to give up on unless you’re working toward something you truly love and are passionate about.
Upon which moment do you think most fondly when thinking of your journey to becoming a software developer?
Chris: My journey as a developer has been filled, and I mean FILLED, with fond memories. I remember when I had just started my bootcamp, maybe a month into it after having worked several jobs for years that were far from being fulfilling to me, I said to my instructor, “Every day that I’ve been at The Nashville Software School has been the best day of my life.” The same remains true every day since then. Finding something that has allowed me to use so many of my skills and talents every day was incredible. It’s crazy how much different life is when you have a job that you enjoy so much that you would do it even if you weren’t being paid to. I remember when I built my very first full application, I finally got it working perfectly and looking as good as I could possibly make it look. I sent a screen-grab video of me walking through the application to someone I knew well that is also a developer… I hadn’t really shown them anything that I had done up to that point and was a little nervous about what their reaction might be. They immediately called me and said, quite enthusiastically, “It’s beautiful!! It made my heart flutter a little bit!”
That feeling was amazing. I built something that I put so much work into and I was so proud and I loved every second of it. And, to top it off,
someone else ALSO thought it was awesome. I immediately knew that I wanted to do this forever and I still feel like that. I still get that feeling all the time and I feel so fortunate to have that.
What is your goal now that you are in the position you worked so hard to get?
Chris: My goal has never changed – it is to get better. Every day. To learn more. To
keep learning. To pay it forward… so many people have helped me out along
the way and I want to be that person for someone else. I just want to
continue to get better and learn more.
What advice would you give to a junior developer?
Chris: Celebrate every victory and every failure, and especially the failures. Failing is the only way you learn. There was a term I learned very early on: ‘Fail Forward.’ It’s ok to fail, just be better from it. Especially early on, people are expecting you to fail. Junior developers aren’t expected to be amazing contributors on day one… Which leads me to my second piece of advice: ask a billion questions. There really is no such thing as a dumb question. Everyone you’ll ever work with has been where you are, and someone helped them too. People are willing and
excited to help. Take advantage of that.
What stood out to me in this interview with Chris was his determination to keep learning and growing, even if the odds didn’t seem to be in his favor. IT and software development can seem intimidating, but it’s completely doable, given you have the desire. If this sounds like you, keep moving forward and never stop being curious. On the other hand, if you are a developer looking for your next step in IT, connect with one of our recruiters and they will work with you to get you ready!