This week, I published Patrick Leblanc's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:
- Patrick never liked school, and school didn't like Patrick that much either. Patrick discovered coding at a very young age and spent his youth and teens coding. But he didn't really like maths. So obviously, as soon as he got a chance to chose his path, he went to study history! After two years, he had to face reality, that was not his thing. Embracing his fate, he decided to study business! He soon realized his mistake and decided to follow his passion. He enrolled in a 3D animation program that proved a disaster. All but the programming part was a disaster. So he did the only reasonable thing: went back to college, to study economy. When he realized that economy was statistics... which is maths, he disenchanted. He still finished his bachelor's degree, but finally FINALLY minored in programming. His words: "then I saw the light, it was the easiest thing I had ever done."
- Patrick started his career as a PHP developer building custom Wordpress sites, at a consulting agency. In hindisght, he really came to value this consulting experience, he learned a lot about tech and business, experienced a lot, went through a whole bunch of fires in a very short timeframe.
- I really like how Patrick described his journey through interviewing. He started with trick questions about PHP, the basics of SQL. Soon, he thought he had discovered THE ANSWER to interviewing. Until one developer aced all his questions but proved to be a sub-par everyday developer. So Patrick went back to the board, questioned the whole process, created a new one, and started back from square one. He then moved to small coding projects like creating a color picker, which proved very interesting to see the thinking process of a candidate. As a result, he hired a developer able to think and imagine elaborated solutions really fast. This proved itself a challenge again when he realized that this developer was over complexifying things and slowing everybody down. So he changed his strategy again and went for a simple conversation. Now he focuses way more on finding the right fit for the team and less on the technical chops. But as he said, "I don't think there is a silver bullet to hiring, but it is nice to be a little bit more humane".
- One of the aspects of the business Patrick was involved with, didn't leave enough place for really paying attention to the customer needs. That's why he recently created his own business, to do exactly that. This is truly music to my ears. But moreover, Patrick did it after coming very close to burnout/depression. He felt he needed a change, he needed to do this. As he put it: "No idea how the landing is going to go, but I'm very much enjoying the flight right now. I'm working a lot, but it's the good kind."
- At his second company, Patrick took over the lead on a big system rewrite in PHP. There he realized how important data structures are. You can refactor and reshape software at will, but you can only do so much with the data. Recoding the whole system and migrating the data took each 50% of the effort.
- Patrick didn't stress it out enough, but each of his jobs, he got through networking. He applied each time and got through interviews, but he knew the people and had already proved his worth when he applied. Networking is paramount.
- We have only one shot at this life. If you feel like doing something, don't let excuses prevent you from doing it.
- "QBasic looked like LEGO, but on a Screen"
- "I pushed back coding professionally because I didn't want to ruin my passion"
- "Seeing how much I loved coding, I did the only logical step and went back to university to study economics"
- "Learning C is like going to the gym, it's useless unless you program in embedded, but it builds your mental shape"
- "You never get to the point where the shit hits the fan in consulting because it always starts there."
- "How do you give a fair shot to people who react very differently in job interviews?"
Thanks, Patrick for sharing your story with us!
You can find the full episode and the show notes on devjourney.info.
Did you listen to his story?
- What did you learn?
- What are your personal takeaways?
- What did you find particularly interesting?