Hi, I'm Janko and I'm a developer, back end developer, senior back end developer.
And I've been working at EMAKINA for the last eight years. I'm also CRM developer and technical lead on several projects. But those roles are not important today. Today I want to talk about being a back end developer. So, let me dress for occasion...
Aah, much better.
So, let me tell you that I absolutely love developing software. This is the most creative thing you can do. In other branches, people are making things from materials but we are creating something from nothing. Okay, not really nothing – there is one ingredient, that is our knowledge. When I think about the role of a back end developer, I'm thinking of the server side of an application. So that side that user don't usually see, but without it, the application couldn't work. So, if our application was a body, the front end would be the skin, clothes, hair, cool stuff. But the back end would be our bones, muscles, blood and most important; the brain.
If you would translate this into software terms, the back end would be a database and exchange data with it. It would be creating an API that communicates with front end and manipulating data in a way that front end needs. Then, it would be developed into a business logic, that describes how the application functions. And we need to create a communication between different parts of our application. So, that they can work together in synchrony.
Why I personally really like back end development is because this is where the geek-part of application is. This is where the math where we thought "why would we ever need this?" is used. And this is where all these complex algorithms come in to play. So whenever you have a really difficult time to solve a problem in the morning, and you think you are the stupidest person on this planet, and in the evening when you actually solved the problem, you think you are the greatest genius there is. This is when in the meetings, everybody that is not a developer has no idea what you are talking about. And this is where the soul of application is.
So, how did I become a developer?
I was born in Jugoslavia. That state that doesn't exist anymore. Which makes me feel like dinosaur. As a kid, I really liked siencebooks, encyclopedias and I liked TV shows about science. And there was a really special one; it was "Discoveries Unlimited". Whenever I would come home from kindergarden, I would be mesmerised by this show and i would suck up all information it would provide. Later, when my mother came back home, I would tell her everything I learned that day. And one day, it was a very special episode. It was all about programmers and robots. Then I said to my mother "you know what, when I grow up, I will build you a robot that will do all the vacuum cleaning for you."
Spoiler alert: I didn't.
Those already exist and my mom has one.
But, other children wanted to be doctors, pilots, cowboys and I wanted to be a programmer. Cool kids would be confused by it, they didn't know what that is. And I would just explain it to them, that I would click the button, and the machine would do stuff.
Once I went to my friends house, and there were lots of children there. I thought maybe it's his birthday, but no, it was something much better! His Gastarbeiter uncle just came from Vienna and he was bearing gifts! At that time in Jugoslavia, most of us had some relatives living and working in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and when those people would come back home, they would bring treasures with them unimaginable! Things we didn't know even existed. Things we could not get in our shops. And that day, my friend got a brand new Nintendo entertainment system. I was blown away by this futuristic technology, that would allow me just by pressing a button move that hyper realistic man on the screen. You could even see his moustache. And if he eats a mushroom, he would grow like Alice in Wonderland.
Then i said to my friend "when I grow up, I will make my own games!"
So spoiler alert: I did.
And, I also had a dream that when I grow up, I will be a programmer and I will be living in Vienna.
Spoiler alert: I am.
And then the bad stuff happened. The war came and everything went upside down. People lost a lot, and became poor. We needed a decade, just to get back on our feet. And we could not afford a computer for me. But, we had some really old computers in school. And there, using Pascal, I created a highly sophisticated program, that would make high pitched noises, that the human ear could barely hear, but that would annoy the **** out of people. Hahaa, good times...
I was already sixteen years old, when i got my first PC – again, thanks to the relatives that were living in Austria. Compared to new generations, I started pretty late. Some people start in their twenties, some in their thirties. Some studied a completely different topic, and some didn't go to university at all. And most of them are all awesome developers.
So here comes my first advice: It doesn't matter when you start, just THAT you start. Yes, if you started earlier, you could have been already somewhere, but if you don't start, you will never be there.
I started with my first project on my brand new painting tool in Visual Basic. I created a small program that had one button and if you'd click on it, it would show a picture and some text. I probably showed it to everybody in my family, and they were not impressed. But it doesn't matter. Because, that was my first step.
And this is my second advice: #2 Start small and develop step by step with small increments.
Think about the simplest application, you can make, and then make it. After that, add one extra thing the would make it better, and then another one, and then another.
I was really proud when I went to university to study informatics. There we saw so many problematics that programming and computers can solve. And we touched most of them. I also saw that some things that I thought were very complicated, are quite easy. Like, that snakegame. Or, things that I thought are really easy, are actually complicated. Like moving a button a little bit to the left.
But, university is just the basics. You will learn the most at your first job in a field that you find best. But, you could learn everything by yourself. You can try everything by yourself. But it is much harder. Especially because of the third thing that I found really important in university. And that is – I can't believe I'm going to say this, but... it's the math. All this math we were breaking our heads with and we were thinking, we're would never going to use it. It's really important. First, some of it we are really going to use them in our code, but even the part that we are never going to use, has a very important purpose. And that is to sharpen you most valuable skill that you will have as a developer: And that is logical thinking. Logical thinking will be your most valuable skill when you finish your university. Yes, basics of coding, programming languages, everybody with a diploma will have those. When I went to the job interview at EMAKINA, the team lead read my CV, he saw technologies that I had experience with a bit. And then he started having a conversation with me about technologies that I never had worked with. I was really confused by it, and I thought to myself I am not the man they need. And that I will not get the job.
And I was really surpised when they called me later and offered me the position as a back end developer. EMAKINA didn't care if I knew some technologies or not. They only cared if I was thinking logically, and if I am able to learn technologies that they will need for the future.
So, this is a thanks to EMAKINA, that my childhood dream of being a programmer in Vienna finally came true.
But, being a back end developer is just the beginning. There are so many options for the future. As you work, you will get more knowledge and more skills, like communication, and teamwork and knowing what clients really want and even that, which they don't know what they really want. Tell them what they want, what they really really want.
With all that knowledge, why not be a consultant? Or a technical leader for a project? Why not become a team lead or lead a whole development apartment? Why not just start your own startup company someday? But whatever you want for the future, you need to start with that one small important step.
And that's were we at EMAKINA, come into play; come to the interview and bring your knowledge with you, because thats the only thing you are ever going to need.