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Does your background make your work unique?

paulasantamaria profile image Paula Santamaría ・2 min read

Most of us, here in DEV, have tech-oriented jobs. Whether you are a frontend developer, backend developer, software analyst, project manager, team leader, etc., our job's final goal is to build software.

However, everyone has a different background, and that's what makes each of us unique in some way. Even if we have a similar goal, we may approach our careers differently because of our unique skills and background, and I think that's awesome.

In my case, I love to create stuff. When I was a kid, the easiest way to do that was drawing. I was always drawing my favorite characters from movies or tv series. And as an adult, I decided to keep drawing in my free time.

Here's one of my latest drawings:

https://i.imgur.com/Dx5jVQ4.jpg

I love drawing whenever I can because it's nice to do something that's unrelated to work and it helps me connect with my childhood in a way. It's also kind of relaxing.

My passion for creating stuff has obviously affected my career: That's primarily why I decided to work independently and on my own projects. And the fact that I was able to draw and design has helped me a great deal with the branding and design for those projects.

For example, I created the logo and most of the icons for the app Get rid of it, which I launched along with @maurogarcia_19 .

A screenshot of my app Get rid of it displaying the logo (which is a white open box) and grid with icons representing the things that you can get rid of (E.g: Football, a bunch of cd's, tools).

I also designed the logo and the octopus in our latest project Cephhi.

A banner design I did to promote cephhi.com. It displays the logo (which is a red octopus tentacle with a green background) and Cephhi the octopus sitting in a desktop working on the tweets you asked him to publish!

It's kind of weird because I specialize in backend development, which is pretty far away from the UI design, colors and logos. But I like weird, so it's ok.

I honestly believe that embracing our own unique backgrounds (and even weirdness) can help us become better developers because it helps us understand ourselves and what we really love to do. At least for me, when I love what I'm working on, I do it so much better.

Does your background make your work unique? 💬

What's the skill, hobby or weird habit that makes (or could make) your work unique?


I love this subject and I know there's much more to discuss about it. But I have to study for 2 finals 😱, so I'll leave it here for now and probably pick it up in future posts.

Posted on by:

paulasantamaria profile

Paula Santamaría

@paulasantamaria

Passionate about creating stuff. Gamer, digital artist and guitarist on my free time.

Discussion

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School bus driver, pizza delivery, oil supply driver, office supply delivery, car sales, donut maker, nightclub and wedding DJ, radio DJ, ski instructor... that's just jobs I did before going into development professionally.. hobbies etc are a whole other bag of randomness.

 

The answer to your question is a definitive YES

We are like writers who put all their lives in the product of their imagination.
For example when you use an Apple product, you can feel that Steve Jobs copied a lot of good things from the Japanese culture.
They are also very Californian, so they have to claim all the time that they revolutionize everything, even if it's by adding ESC on the keyboard.

I live in a polyglot multicultural world and I think my work reflect that in a lot of subtle ways.

I love dancing and even that inform my way of seeing the world
dev.to/jmfayard/what-dancing-tango...

I love your drawings, they make your product different

 

Thank you 😊!

I just read your article (while listening to Shakira like you recommended) and I really enjoyed it! I'm from Argentina and I don't really know much about Tango myself, but my grandpa loved it and he and my grandma used to dance together beautifully.

I'm absolutely sure we all put a bit of ourselves when writing software, but I also believe it's important to try and find out what is that makes your own background different so you can take advantage of that and enjoy your work even more!

 

I'm so glad you posted this. I have always thought that my particular background in the food and hospitality industry have given me tremendous insight into building applications that truly resonate, and are useful to every user.

I also possess the soft skills that allow me to really communicate with business users and my team. Great post.

 

Thank you, Danielle! Would you mind telling me more about how working in the food and hospitality industry relates to your current work? It sounds super interesting, and I'd love to know more about it.

 

Hi Paula,

I make design web applications for customers to use to complete a variety of tasks such as purchasing items and generating reports for inventory and billing statements. After spending years learning how to anticipate the needs of the consumer in hospitality, I have been able to bring that knowledge with me to my designs. I know what individuals are looking for when they are buying and how best to present a product to them.

I make my pages as easy to navigate as possible but include as much information about a product as possible. I have been successful using this model.

My communication style was molded in hospitality as well. I use a relaxed conversation style that draws out the most truthful version of a person. This I believe, allows me to truly find out what would best suit a business user or customer when I’m building.

-Danielle-

 

I'm sure my background will make my work unique. (Currently I'm studying data science). I just hope that background, which is eclectic, will prove useful in my new career.
I got a ...

Okay, this started as comment but morphed into a post in its own right. You can read more here.

 

I have a background in Mechanical Engineering... A place where many (most) dispise code. For some reason I was always the odd duck that did EVERYTHING in code. I would do my homework in matlab... At test time I would script the solutions on my TI calculator (from scratch nothing brought in separately) rather than typing commands in one at a time so that I could review my work before running it. I would even program my 3d models to be driven by spreadsheets of variants we wanted to try.

Now I work as a Data Scientist for a very heavily mechanical company, my Mechanical background gives me an understanding of our product that others do not have. In part this is because I spent my first 5 years deep on the ME side of the fence.

 

I think every person has something unique to bring to the table.

You'd be very surprised to learn how life experiences affects your approach to software.

For example, people that came from an environment of poverty will have a natural tendency towards conservation of resources, be it computing power, data and so on.

Compare this to someone who grew up with one or both parents as software engineers. Two very, very different ways of thinking between the two individuals!

For me the lesson is that we all have our own story, and our stories should be used to help each other out. It makes life so much more interesting to live!

 

Completely agree with you, Shiraaz, thank you!

 

I'm like a broken record on having a wide background, that's like my #1 advice to any developer.

This weekend I found a YouTube channel of a guy bragging he got a job at Google after just 6 months of bootcamp. But when you listen to what he did, he went through a lot of STEM majors. That's what makes a good developer, a wide toolbox you can use to solve your issues with an open mind.

Myself I studied in an area totally different of programming because I felt that just programming was suffocating. Then I worked in marketing (without any technical component). And now I'm quite happy about this because I know a lot of people that I wouldn't know otherwise and I'm able to solve most of my difficult problems using something from my background.

 

Meeting diverse people is another advantage of having a background that's unrelated to your day-to-day job. Thanks for bringing that up, Rémy!

I'm on University studying a career that's a mix between I.T. and Business Management. As a result, I've met people that are completely unrelated to tech, and I always enjoy listening to their opinions on both tech and non-tech subjects. It's enriching.

 

I was in environmental Sciences, and still regularly an activist in ecology, which makes me care about the energy use by my page, making me trying to improve the efficiency of my code constantly. The problem with the energy used by data center and IT makes me feel anxious.
I also used to be in architecture, I was lie you searching for the way to create. I actually tried project management and business analyst before coding. It gives me a good view of the business part of the project, not only the technical part.

 

Nice to meet a fellow creator :)
Thanks for sharing your very interesting background! Which resources would you recommend to check the enviromental impact of web/mobile apps?

 

On web app I have an extension for Chrome to test it : GreenIT it's a french extension app, based on this ecometer.org/. But mostly the tools of Firefox Developer Edition and Chrome on Memory management are the most important ones. I care mostly about the amount quantity of energy needed, therefore the quantity of data to add, the amount of computing that eats RAM, the quantity of objects, the size of the DOM,... Everything we should work on to reduce the size of the app, the exchanges with the server that cost energy,..

 

I read a lot as a child which helped. Also managed to escape a bit of a cult and that experience shapes you in so many ways.

Work experience in corporate Telecom, higher education, and Federal gov't are all defining factors for my outlook in life and technical experience, Paula 👋🏼😌

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Chris!

 

Absolutely! I think the best ideas come to those who are curious and draw inspiration from a mix of divergent experiences. My background includes a brief stint in 3-D animation to starting and operating a specialty grocery store, for example. (!) I think if you can harness curiosity, a willingness to experiment, and continue learning you are more resilient and creative.

 

I think so too! I believe it's important to seek diverse experiences and broaden your horizons to be a more complete developer and person.
Thanks for sharing, Katie! 😊

 

This article really resonates me. I work as a software tester and I am mainly involved in back end development and little bit front end.

I think the answer to your question is yes. Having different backgrounds can help software engineer to tackle a problem from different angles.

 

I've been playing rugby all my life and I firmly say yes!
Rugby taught me a lot about team working, decision making, crise management, constant improvement, dealing with failures.
As a developer, I cannot even count how many times this saved me at work. And this is true even for tech stuff, not only with people management.

 

SO true! I also practiced a lot of team sports, like handball, when I was younger and the most important lessons I got from that, I believe, are discipline and how to deal with failure.
Thank you, Emanuele!

 

Hey! Interesting article! I can definitely agree with our backgrounds making us unique. I'm self-taught and going full stack but most people don't know I'm studying and majoring in Kinesiology and Physical Education full-time. The people skills I get from the healthcare line of work are much appreciated in the tech field (I've seen too many mean comments on StackOverFlow over the simplest things)! On the side, I also breakdance, do martial arts, write, build projects, participate in hackathons, and take foodie adventures down the streets of Toronto. Honestly, being more multifaceted is the way to go #2020!

 

Completely agree! And the tech industry could definitely use more people skills :)

 

Programming is an odd thing. Sometimes I wonder if it's actually a dysfunction that makes us able to sit in front of a screen and focus intensely on a problem for hours on end, often without much human interaction. Not very many people would be up for that.

I certainly have a mild obsessive streak, a monk-like ability to focus, a tendency to get lost in ideas or developing skills... I also know a few bright coders I've worked with were somewhere on the autism spectrum, and that seemed to somehow make them very well suited for the job, but in a different way.

I suspect patterns like these are fairly common. I'm sure there are more.

Whatever it is for each of us that makes the magic happen, it tends to come with quirks. I suppose I've found a niche for myself as someone who is a good developer and understands introverts and extroverts and likes quirky people (because I feel like I am somehow all three of those...), but who is also good at talking to people and can navigate the business side.

Well, whatever it is, it's working for us. :)

 

I was an aircraft mechanic for a few years and that's probably why I'm neurotic about proper exception handling.

 

😂 I love this. Although, in my case, working on an app in production that didn't have proper exception handling made me neurotic about it too.

 

I come from a STEM background. I'm finishing a PhD in Theoretical Physics and transitioning into tech. I have a very analytical mind and like to break stuff apart conceptually, analyze it, understand how the pieces are related to each other and put it all back together.

So, I find easier to reason in terms of structure, processes and invariants. That definitely has shaped the way I see software. In particular, it has lead me functional programming, which I really like.

There are analogies between programming and physics which I find really useful. For example, thinking about invariants in code is very similar to the use of conservation laws (such as conservation of energy) to understand the physical systems. In both cases, you have rules that don't
fully specify the behavior of your system, but constrain it in ways that allow you to learn things about it with less effort than would be required by a complete analysis.

 
 

Yes, It helped a lot in my blockchain & writing career.

 

I think you should have had picked the front-end field, as your art is amazing.

 

I don't know 🤔. I kinda like having a few hobbies that are unrelated to my day-to-day job. Also, I can't seem to get along with CSS 😂