This is a article from my "Dev Chats" series where I speak to an awesome developer or techie every week or so. You can read more here. Let me know in the comments if you find these useful to you!
Hello World! Cyris here, originally South African but immigrated to New Zealand in 2008. Six years ago I managed to get my very first developer job at Skinny Marketing (Not associated with Skinny Mobile). We primarily focus on Digital Marketing, mainly Email Marketing.
I started out as an Email Developer using basic HTML and CSS to build templates and custom campaigns on very short deadlines. With any spare time I had I would practice my coding, learn from free Youtube Playlists and build my own apps and programs with much trial and error. I have no University degrees or any official qualifications. I’m self-taught from the ground up, built upon passion.
Over time as my skills progressed, so did our company. Now I build custom projects, micro sites and apps with NodeJS, along with full websites based on Wordpress.
Growing up I’ve always been interested in computers. I wanted to know how they worked, what made them “tick” and how I could be a part of it.
I knew they were the future, and I had a passion to chase that. Since my very first 386 desktop computer I was captured. Browsing Encarta 95 encyclopedia blew me away with so much information at my fingertips. I felt unstoppable.
But being in South Africa, when the World Wide Web finally came around it was very limited so I never knew how vast it was. I spent hours at a time using generators on my mobile phone to build old school WAP websites. The first book I ever read (and completed) was HTML for dummies. I could use Notepad, write some code and have it display amazing things in a browser. Mind Blown. I felt like a kid in a candy shop and this is when I knew I wanted to pursue the career of a Developer.
I’m a fan of Netflix Super Browse and congratulate on your Product Hunt success. What do you like about making Chrome extensions?
If I’m ever browsing the web and see users asking for certain things, my immediate reaction is to see if I can build it. I don’t care about paid for it, I get enough satisfaction from seeing happy users and getting good feedback. It’s my little Ego boost in a world full of everyone challenging each other. I get to learn new skills and they get a better experience.
I find myself often wiggling my fingers whenever someone hands me a pen and I have to apologize and say I’m a developer, I use a keyboard. If they do not listen, I will start flailing my t-rex arms all over the place.
You’re probably one of the most followed people on NZ Tech Twitter, how do you think you achieved that? What is your advice for growing a community around your interests?
I never knew I was but I’ll accept that! My interests range far and wide so my feeds are probably not as focused as they should be, but I would suggest having a descriptive bio. Your interests, where you’re from, all these things can make you personally relatable to someone else.
I enjoy tech and science, so I’m often tweeting about hardware, benchmarks, gaming, scientific discoveries, programming, and of course anything I find funny. *cough cough dad Jokes*
If you see other users tweeting about your interests, don’t be afraid to engage in conversation. A few good replies here and there could not only mean a follow, but a new friend.
I’m often outspoken and speak my mind, it upsets some and is appreciated by others. Just be yourself, and pick your battles.
Keeping up. Make no mistake, being a developer is tough. A developer is constantly working in a forever changing world that speeds up every day. New frameworks today, entire new languages tomorrow. It’s tougher than I imagined but I enjoy a challenge, being thrown into the deep end.
I personally find it a great way to learn, and being tasked with something I don’t quite understand yet keeps me on my toes.
I can’t speak for other tech careers but for those wanting to be developers, perseverance and passion. No one understands or even remembers everything instantly. You will go through times of self-doubt but it’s ok, it’s more normal than you think.
I often find myself believing every other developer I meet knows more than me and it can make me feel quite inferior, but at the same time they could be thinking the exact same thing. This is where perseverance comes in, don’t let those thoughts of self-doubt stop you from reaching your goals because I can promise you, you will get past it and you will look back on it and realize how far you’ve come.
Your passions is what drives your perseverance. If you enjoy programming, building things out of nothing. Keep doing it. You have nothing to lose and a whole new world to gain.
I do enjoy mountain biking from time to time, spending time with my family or helping others. I’m also supporting my 15yr old niece on her journey to becoming a developer herself.
I think it’s important to have a healthy work/life balance. Get away from the computer from time to time. Although I do find myself somewhat ‘craving’ to code again if I haven’t been coding in a while.
So I guess as a hobby I code too, this is my free time to learn and improve my skillset.
But the best learning you have, is your own projects. Find something in your life you can automate, or an app idea you’ve always wanted to build and do it.
I have taught myself everything by trying to build my own programs, because I know what I want and I just had to figure out how to achieve that. Ask around, speak to fellow developers. Google is a developer’s best friend.
I’d like to give a shoutout to StackOverflow, wouldn’t be here without you.
But of course a worthy mention is @CodingPoet. A fellow South African devoted to teaching and motivating children about tech, robotics and coding in schools. I highly recommend a follow.