Interview with Full-Stack Developer
Stanislav will tell us about what it's like to straddle both worlds at the same time - balancing between Front and Back End; how many courses you have to pass; how many times Magento sucked him dry; and a little about how to leave big sports for big programming.
- Let's start over. Introduce yourself, tell just a couple of words about yourself, what you like, what you don’t like, and anything you would like to start with.
My name is Stas. I'm 29 years old and I love playing true old school games - sometimes so old school that some people don't even know the names and have no idea where they came from. During working hours, I take an active part in the development, well, that’s obvious. I think, we will discuss it later today.
- Let the curtain of your past fall - what did you do before you came to IT?
I am an athlete, a master of sports in Greco-Roman wrestling. I did very well, won several international and domestic competitions. Never joined the Olympic team, however. I do not regret that I ended my career, but I am proud of the guys whom I trained with, they successfully entered the top five, and even the top three at the 2020 Olympics.
- What kind of education do you have?
I am a PE teacher. Yes, an ordinary school physical education teacher. I can even say that I am a teacher in the third generation - my grandmother is a teacher, my mother is a teacher. And now here I am. Since childhood I went in for sports a lot, so education, in its traditional sense, basically passed by - a lot of time was devoted to training. Therefore, the most optimal decision for me was to go to a pedagogical university and get the profession of a teacher.
- How did you come to programming?
The foundations for this were laid when I was young, right after the sport, so to speak. My parents have a business - they are engaged in retail trade. And that’s where it all started when I volunteered to develop a website for them with an online store.
- And how does it turn out like this - here you are - a Greco-Roman wrestler, and now you are already a programmer? Where is the common thread?
You know, I already had been wanting this. I had thoughts about becoming an architect. Logic, mathematics - all of it has always been easy for me and was my serious advantage. When it was over with big sports, a lot of time was freed up from training and competitions, and I kept thinking, where would I go and what would I do? One day everything changed: I got up in the morning, and I was able to decide where to go, why to go and whether to go at all. No more coaches, no managers, no guys in the team that tell me what to do. Any professional athlete will understand me - this is an amazing feeling, but I cannot call it pleasant. It's like a huge black hole is forming in your life, a vacuum, an incredible space continuum that is completely empty. Of course, I wanted to fill it in, and I began to think of what I could do. It was when I began to learn about the CMS platforms, and that is when I first learned about Magento.
- Where did you study? Courses, specialized education, YouTube videos, some chats in Telegram?
I didn't do anything extraordinary, I watched some free courses, videos to learn the basics. All in all, I have a special approach to both learning and work. The traditional step-by–step approach is not for me.
- So, your first experience in programming was that very site for your parents’ business? How do you rate this experience now?
I understand that if now all my work is analyzed, then of course there are options on how to do it both better and easier. But I wouldn't call it shameful. This is a fully functional solution that effectively copes with the tasks set to this day. So It’s more of a good job, than a shame.
- We are getting to the most interesting part. How did you end up in Mygento?
It all started with the fact that after the end of my sports career, in my provincial town with 50K of population and an average salary of 25K RUB, I had nothing to do. As you and I have already found out, I did not really want to be engaged in family business, and for some time I was freelancing - programming, of course. But freelancing gets boring over time - if you want to develop and work with interesting and complex tasks, you have to go to a company. Of course, my hometown was out of the question, so I started looking towards relocation.
As I mentioned earlier, I became interested in e-commerce and began actively looking for eCommerce companies, especially with strong Magento-based development. By the way, very few of them were found, many of them turned out to be startups with one employee, or very modest organizations with unknown prospects.
I found Mygento, and against the background of others, and even against my own background, the company inspired confidence and gave the impression of a very serious organization, essentially meeting almost all of my requirements. And I realized that I want to join this particular team.
Well now, I’ve been through 2 pretty challenging interviews, and I failed.
Now, of course, I understand that at that time I was overconfident, and I objectively lacked experience, the lack of which led to such a decision, but at that moment it was like the effect of an exploding bomb in my head.
As a result, I accepted an offer from another company, which lost a lot to Mygento in almost all respects, and was far from my dream job, but still was ready to hire me, and anyway offered me at least about what I wanted. There I worked for the first eight or nine months of my life here. I must say right away that I was not mistaken in my premonitions - working there did not give me much pleasure, there were many screw-ups, ranging from purely development issues to an elementary lack of comfort in the office. Therefore, the dream of being in the Mygento team did not leave me. I patiently worked, gained experience, and prepared for the "third jump." The third time, when I was on the doorstep of Mygento, they employed me with joy and for sure, without conditions and surprises.
- In what grade did you come to Mygento?
I think I was about Junior+.
- What grade are you now?
Formally, I have one of the highest grades in the company, but in practice, everything may not be so magical,so I prefer not to focus on this.
- Come on, you were introduced to me as Team Leader!
That's true. My strong soft skills help me here a lot, as I know how to lead a team, how to set tasks, and I also hate to wait and stand idle in vain. You know, people sometimes be like - if in the work process some question arose to the contractor or somebody, people just forward this question to them, put it on the back burner, calm down and wait for an answer for ages. And so they sit, waiting - for one or two weeks, when they deign to answer. But I must say that Team Lead is more of a role than a position, and the leader is selected for the project based on its characteristics and the team itself. This is by far the most qualified developer in the team, but it is not at all necessary that in another project I will not be an ordinary, albeit a well-deserved, member of the team.
- So this is awesome! How long have you been working for Mygento?
It's been three years already.
- Why are you staying here? What do you like here and what makes you stay here?
You know, a lot depends on the management and the vector of the company's development. I like that management listens to me and hears me. They do not sit in some separate remote office, and talking to them considers to be a big deal. They are always there, always in touch, work on a par with you, communicate. This is the main point – the management is on an equal footing with you, and does not sit on the throne, surrounded by golden toilet brushes. This is what creates the necessary, healthy atmosphere, which appeals to me very much. Of course, there must be a little of subordination, and this is normal. But we are still more of a modern, progressive, family company, or something. In my opinion, the closer the management is to their employees, the more effective the work itself is.
- Tell me, do you recall your first days here? How were you treated, how did you adapt?
Of course, I do! There is such a practice here … alas, we do not always have time, or resources for this, but … There is such a backbone, a backbone of sociable excellent guys who, according to tradition, take out newcomers to a welcome dinner.
- Did you have a mentor?
In general, we have a fairly developed mentoring and onboarding system, and I was lucky in this matter, since my mentor was the CTO. He explained a lot to me and showed me what is right and what needs to be done in order to develop quickly, because no one showed me this at my last job. In addition, I always felt the support of more experienced colleagues who helped in difficult cases, but the most important thing is, of course, self-education, which is highly welcomed in the company. By the way, considerable time is allocated for self-education and independent analysis during the working day, which I have not experienced in other companies, and have not heard of such practices. Here you are always heard, always advised, always helped, always supported. There is always someone to ask and with whom to discuss something.
- Tell me, please, what advantages do you see in office work? And what do you prefer - an office or a remote location?
Office for me is a discipline. There are a huge number of distractions at home, remote work just isn’t doing it for me. I asked permission to return to the office with maniacal frequency when there was quarantine - I consistently bothered management with this question. An office is also an opportunity to leave work at work, and to clearly delineate the work / life balance - in the case of remote work, this is almost impossible when personal life gets in the same mess with professional issues.
- And again I agree with you. What were your first projects here at Mygento?
The first project I took part in was a store for Nespresso. I must say that all projects in the company are a long road. There is no such thing that a project was made and forgotten, these are constant improvements, the introduction of new functionality, a change in the old logic, new integrations, etc., but at that time it was and remains to this day the most ambitious and technically complex project that required a huge amount of resources. Then I was offered to move to the NYX Cosmetics project team. It is very typical for Mygento that employees have the option of joining a project or not after an internal presentation. For me, this transition was a real challenge, because the old team was disbanded, and the new one was created from scratch. I had to soak into everything and in the shortest possible time.
- Describe your typical work day. Here you come to work - what are you doing? What is your day?
We have the most flexible schedule, the only thing that matters is that the work is done on time and with quality, which is constantly monitored by CTO. I come to work quite early - at 08, at 08:30 in the morning. And since I try to keep the work/life balance precisely, I stay at work until 4-5 pm. Of course, if something is very important and urgent, I will stay later. But I try not to. Health is quite an important thing. Okay, so I come at 8 in the morning - check the list of tasks, bring the necessary messages to the guys. If everything looks okay, then I’m doing my own tasks. If no burning deadlines or emergencies , then in the middle of the day we go play kicker with CTO
- Tell me, why are we on Magento? What is the difference between Magento and all other CMS? What's the outlook?
Ecommerce platforms range from builders to custom builders, from small business platforms like shopify or woocommerce to enterprise level platforms like Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, SAP or Magento. We work with large international enterprise-level companies, and Magento is a leader among such platforms and is constantly improving its position. Plus, it is also much cheaper in terms of licensing and TCO for the client.
- What are Magento's prospects?
Magento is the absolute leader among multi-channel eCommerce platforms for B2C and B2B markets worldwide. Magento is about large and very large businesses. Magento is one of the most popular open E-commerce systems for organizing e-commerce on the Web: more than 100,000 online stores have been created on the basis of this platform, more than 2,000 extensions have been created by third-party developers, and the project community has about 375,000 members. What can be said about the prospects? Magento will evolve in the direction of big business and grow in success. More and more different businesses will require the creation of their eComm projects based on Magento. Magento will always be about complex, extensive, time-consuming web applications.
- What does motivate you?
Talking about work, then the atmosphere inside Mygento motivates me. We have already discussed the topic several times today: the management hears and listens to you, the mentoring and onboarding are developed, there are growth prospects, and the projects are all lasting and interesting. And yet, I don’t want to sound like an altruist. I am a rather selfish person and there’s no shame in that. Therefore, the financial part is important to me. Well now, money, combined with company loyalty, is a perfect motivation combination.
- Tell me, like a full stack developer - who is a full stack developer?
A full-stack developer is a kind of jack-of-all-trades in the world of web development. They are able to implement both the client and server side of the application, which are usually handled by FrontEnd and BackEnd developers separately. Thus, a Full-stack specialist is able to lead a project from start to finish. Full stack developer sees pitfalls in both back and front perspectives, and can come up with more logical solution in the code than a profile backend, or a profile frontend developer. The obvious advantage of a Full Stack developer is to combine two streams - FrontEnd and BackEnd - in one specialist. A full-stack developer can often be delegated a variety of tasks in the workplace. Rewrite code for someone, review, fix, finish.
- Are the certificates important for your work?
I think they are crucial. They confirm the level of knowledge. I think this is quite an important thing. For example, I have a desire to get non-core certificates, not Magento. I want to get PHP certificate, because even in the process of preparing for the certificate test, you always learn something new. This is very important.
- Changing the topic, let's discuss the myths and stereotypes around programmers. I dug up something here, let's try to debunk or confirm. Here is the first one: a programmer job is for people with a very high IQ score, and not everyone is capable of such a job. Myth or not?
Definitely a myth. The IQ score is not as important as the way of thinking. Most programmers are lunatics, but you can't call them super smart. Believe me, take programmers and make them pass an IQ test - not everyone will score a relatively high 130-140 points. I think it's more important to have logic than high IQ test scores.
- I also read such a thing: that Front End is more for the scholars. And Back End is more for logicians, mathematicians. Do you agree with this?
Absolutely not. I think this myth comes from that the front end has a very low entry level. Most of the programming courses incline you to learn exactly the front end, promising employment in this direction. Therefore, if you worked as a salesperson, and suddenly you decided to enter IT at entry level, then the frontend is the easiest way to do it. This is where it comes from, this is nothing more than a myth. It's just the situation on the market.
- I have one last question for you, and I'll let you go. Please tell me, if now you had a chance for 10 minutes to return to the past, to the very beginning of your career - what advice would you give yourself? Maybe you’d corrected something, and what would you avoid?
I'd tell myself to start doing all of this earlier. Because I was not at all strongly attracted to programming back then, I even had a certain fear of developing. So I would tell myself to start it all earlier. I think that a lot was missed and I could now have a much higher level.
- Stas, thank you very much, it was unreal cool with you, you are awesome!
My pleasure, thank you!
Interview taken, written and translated by Anastasia Gorbunovich Content Editor-in-Chief Mygento eCommerce Solutions