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From Traveler to Tech: Satoshi's Story

In our blog series that highlights the diverse journeys into the tech industry, we're thrilled to feature Satoshi, a dynamic Full Stack Developer whose transition to tech professional exemplifies the unique paths to entering the field. From Japan to finding his niche in tech in Canada, Satoshi's story unfolds through a range of experiences, leading to an unexpected opportunity that sparked his interest in coding.

Satoshi is not only self-taught but also brings three years of hands-on experience in both frontend and backend development. His proficiency in Python and JavaScript, especially within web development frameworks, underscores his technical versatility and dedication. Beyond his contributions to open-source projects, Satoshi's commitment extends to nurturing the next generation of developers as a teaching assistant in a React Course at the bootcamp he once attended. From embarking on self-directed learning to actively participating in projects like the Web Dev Path, his evolution and enthusiasm for contributing to the community are evident.

Can you tell us about your background and what motivated you to start learning tech skills?

I came to Canada about 8 years ago. I was a bit of a traveler after graduating from university in Japan. I used a Working Holiday visa to live and work in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. I had various jobs over that time, working at restaurants, hotels, offices, and so on.

The reason why I got interested in programming was due to my last job. I worked for a food delivery company (Skip the Dishes). I started with a customer support role but eventually moved to the menu team, which takes care of restaurant menus. I had to do a lot of data entry to create menus for restaurant partners with the company's menu builder application. Sometimes I needed to make menus for liquor vendors. They send us their stock in Excel sheets. I didn’t know about programming at that point, but I thought this could be automated with a programming language. Since then, I started learning programming from a data science/data analytics perspective, and my interest gradually shifted to web development.

How did you come across the Web Dev Path project, and what made you decide to participate in it?

I joined an online developer community called Virtual Coffee last year and saw Klesta’s post about Web Dev Path on their Slack channel. I remember I read her interview to know better about it. I was familiar with building something on my own but I didn’t have much experience to develop within a team. Web Dev Path sounded like a good place to improve skills to work in a team.

What were some of the challenges you faced while working on the Web Dev Path project, and how did you overcome them?

The challenge was to get used to the process of how to make a pull request. I read our wiki over and over to make sure that I followed the process. Mariana, one of the project founders, corrected my mistakes from time to time.

Looking back at my pull requests, I haven’t tackled any complicated issues in Web Dev Path yet. I mainly focused on bug fixes and updating content. Additionally, I've reported bugs, such as images not loading and the search results not displaying the website description.

In your opinion, how does the Web Dev Path project help to prepare for first job opportunities in tech?

I haven’t got a full-time offer yet, but I recently got accepted for the MLH Fellowship program, which early-career developers improve their employability. I think being active in open-source ecosystems helped me to get this opportunity. I have been trying to make as many contributions as possible. Web Dev Path equipped me with how to contribute to open-source projects.

Can you tell us about your job search process and how you applied the skills learned through the open-source projects that helped you in your interviews?

Besides learning through interacting with our codebase, our team members had some meetings with me. I had a meeting with Patricia and Mariana about my job hunting. Patricia reviewed my resume and gave me feedback as an HR person, and Mariana gave me some feedback on my portfolio from a developer perspective.

Coincidentally, I also had Klesta as my behavioural interview mentor through another developer community named The Collab Lab. After answering general questions, she gave me detailed feedback and insights into what kind of character companies are looking for. One piece of advice is that I like to help people to learn. At that time, I was volunteering as a teaching assistant in a React Course. The companies are looking for someone who can help to create a good learning environment. I talked about it in the MLH general interview, and the interviewer seemed to like my story.

What was your experience like working with a team of developers on the Web Dev Path project, and what did you learn from it?

The team members have different strengths and interests, so it is fun to fix issues together. This issue was one of the examples of working in a team. Cheryl found a bug in the website, and we tried to find the cause of it. After I shared the cause and made a pull request with my solution, Mariana gave me a more sophisticated solution.

Web Dev Path is an open-source project, but our team is not so large yet. We communicate through our Slack channel. The project founder, Mariana, is always helpful to us. Any member can review pull requests, so you can practice doing a maintainer role for open-source projects. I recently started doing a maintainer role for another open-source project.

How do you think the Web Dev Path project can help other newbies in tech who are looking to gain real-world experience and improve their skills?

If you are interested in open-source projects but intimidated by contributing to them, Web Dev Path would be a good place to start. You can take on simple issues and also get lots of support from other members. You can also explore other open-source projects according to your interests and skill sets after mastering the basics of how to contribute to open-source projects. I feel that touching various codebases helps me to grow as a developer and that communicating with different people improves your soft skills, especially in written communication. I believe these skills are valuable for software developer careers.

What advice would you give to other newbies in tech who are just starting and looking for guidance?

Our members are friendly and helpful to newcomers. I appreciated when Klesta shared the resources she used for her learning journey. I used many resources she mentioned, in addition to Web Dev Path. I’m trying to share something useful like hiring information, learning resources, events, and so on, to help fellow early career developers as Klesta did. Come join us if you need some guidance to improve as a developer. I hope you find Web Dev Path to be helpful for you.

We are also looking for experienced individuals to mentor us. Please check out the Web Dev Path initiative if you want to gain experience mentoring junior developers as well.

In wrapping up Satoshi's inspiring journey, it's evident that the path to becoming a tech professional is as unique as the individuals who walk it. Through self-driven learning, embracing community support, and contributing to projects like Web Dev Path, Satoshi highlights the importance of perseverance, curiosity, and community in the tech world.

Whether you're a newbie seeking direction or an experienced developer looking to give back, Satoshi's story underscores the value of open-source projects in building real-world experience and fostering growth.

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