This week, I published Dennis Traub's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:
- Dennis found his first love with computers at the age of 9, in form of a Commodore VIC20. He wanted to understand how it works so much, that he took it apart.. and that's how, a few months later, he had a Commodore 64... and a non-functioning VIC20 😁 and like many of us, he learned how to code by typing listings from magazines. And even though he spent his entire youth in front of a computer, it didn't occur to him that it could become his job.
- While studying something else entirely and trying to figure out life in general, he earned money by repairing computers, setting up printers, helping create networks, etc. doing fun things... which he only later realized was a legitimate profession.
- But it took the World Wide Web in the early 90s to finally realize the gift he had and finally made a living out of it.
- Dennis is a very curious person, borderline ADHD. He needs the freedom to explore and learn. If he doesn't have the chance to do this, his codebase will "look like a showcase of all the front-end frameworks of the decade". Thus, he has been nurturing jobs in which he had this chance to move around a lot. Dennis is, in his own words: a starter, not a finisher. A person is able to inspire others.
- After his first 5 years of tenure at an Agency, Dennis was pretty burned out. He needed a change of scenery. So he went back to school and learned a new trade: avionics maintenance. During an internship, he realized that his knowledge of computers and avionics combined was very valuable and that became his next job.
- "So much of our job is about failing". Creating software means making something new. Failure is inherent to this process. Dennis took this to its extreme when he joined AWS. He said: "Before joining AWS, I considered myself an expert [...] but AWS is the place people go if they want to feel like they don't know anything." And this is exciting to him!
- Dennis describes his job as a developer advocate as looking at what is being built inside of AWS, and then turn around, show it to developers and inspire them to create fantastic things with it.
- Dennis ended the tale of his journey by talking about the bystander-effect and encouraging us to speak up and ask questions when we are unsure.
- "If you feel in over your head, talk to someone, you are not the only one!"
- "No matter how you feel, be aware that everybody feels the same"
- "I am a starter, not a finisher. I can inspire people to do things."
- "I don't really know what I am doing, I am not enough for this job!"
- "Intuition is nothing else than experience"
- "Before joining AWS, I considered myself an expert [...] but AWS is the place people go if they want to feel like they don't know anything"
- "If you want to stop learning at some point and know what you are doing, find another job"
- "When I started talking to people about my feelings, many people that I look up to, told me they feel exactly the same way"
Thanks, Dennis 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?