Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of a Freelance JavaScript Developer

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Being a developer takes more than just being good at coding. Here’s how a full-stack developer does the job.

Image: SeanZeroThree / iStock

Johnny Fekete was in high school in the town of Győr, Hungary, when he first learned computer programming. “I found it fascinating back then that you could write something and then the computer will do what you tell it to do,” he said. He soon realized that he was ahead of his teachers. “They learned it from the book,” he explained, “but by the time the book is printed the technology is already outdated – so it was really interesting that I already knew more than my teachers, just because I learned on the Internet. ”

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Today Fekete, 32, is a freelance JavaScript developer living in Barcelona working on his own startup, working on his own startup, Bonboarding, a tool that helps people create onboarding flows and product tours. . After high school, he enrolled at Corvinus University in Budapest, where he studied business and computer science. At that time, he was still not ready to become a programmer.

SEE: Hiring Kit: JavaScript Developer (TechRepublic Premium)

“I had a really bad stereotype of programmers,” he said, “and I had in mind that I didn’t want to be one of them.” (At the time, he thought that a software developer “eats chips all the time in front of his computer,” he said. But most developers he knows enjoy hiking, climbing and Crossfit – and are “really sociable people.”) Business school was helpful in teaching it what businesses need when it comes to software.

A software engineering degree isn’t necessarily required, Fekete said, especially if you’re self-taught and can solve problems. “The whole industry is really open,” he said. “They are the most open to remote work. They care the least about a university education in this area, because all they care about is that you can do the thing.” And since the common programming language is English, it also means it’s easier for people from different backgrounds to get involved, he said.

“I think I’m a successful freelance writer because I don’t just think about codes, but I think about what my clients will need, what their requirements are and how do I fit it into software,” he explained.

After graduating from Corvinus, Fekete completed a Masters program in Business Administration and Information Systems at Copenhagen Business School and went to work for a marketing agency.

Self-proclaimed self-taught, he decided to settle in Barcelona and from there became a “true freelance writer”.

Fekete works with JavaScript, one of the many programming languages, which is more front-end and good for building sophisticated websites. Many languages ​​can be applied to certain tasks, but some are better suited to specific use cases. Java, for example, is a bit more “enterprise” and suitable for developing robust systems, such as those for financial or healthcare institutions, Fekete said.

SEE: C ++ Programming Language: How It Came The Basis Of Everything And What’s Next (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Working as a freelance writer is not that different from working in an office, Fekete said. Both jobs generally have a quick check-in, a five-minute stand-up. And the two would also have a client meeting every two weeks, for example, to kick off the week, because “in programming we normally think in cycles of two weeks,” he explained, “called a sprint.” This is a type of project management in which a team of developers can look for bottlenecks or obstacles to completing a project.

Sprints can start with information such as image resources, or text, or access to some of the systems, required before starting to work on a new project, for example. And regardless of the type of programming language used, the process is similar, he pointed out.

Once the tasks are configured, they are entered into the project management system such as Jira. And then, it’s solo work, but it’s not just about coding.

“I would be lying if I said I code eight hours a day,” Fekete said, “because it’s impossible.”

Instead, he spends a lot of time reading and learning new information. “And sometimes the best progress happens when you’re not looking at the screen but just thinking in the shower,” he said.

“What matters a lot to a developer job is really hard to make estimates because you never know something that you think is so easy, and that can stall you for a week, while something that you thought was difficult, then you found an online solution that was very easy to implement. “

At the end of the sprint, he presented his work to the team or the client.

Often the job is to solve problems. When a random bug appears, it should be fixed immediately. “It really brings excitement into your life, because maybe suddenly a system stops working, and there are 10,000 users waiting for you to fix it,” he said. “It’s also part of the life of a developer.”

A particular challenge arose in a marketing company in Denmark, where all of a sudden not all hosted sites were accessible online. All the developers teamed up and had to step in to find a solution. “These were projects for big, big clients, and we really needed to get them back on line,” he said. It also turned into “a great bonding experience. Because all the developers who are otherwise working individually, we had to quit everything and just focus on this problem together,” he said.

SEE: The best and worst programming languages ​​to learn (TechRepublic Premium)

“To remain a good developer you have to constantly learn,” he said. “This also applies to university education and also after that. It changes so much, so quickly, that you cannot afford to use the same things as two years ago, because at that time , it will be obsolete. “

Online tutorials and Udemy courses are also a big help. Fekete also listens to podcasts to learn more when looking to learn more about parts of the job beyond coding.

It also relies on Twitter, where “there’s a really vibrant developer community, and they love to teach, so you can just follow some people, and you just can’t be unaware of the progress as they keep on. tweet about it and also show you the little tips and tricks. ” This is essential, he said, in order to “deliver the latest technologies and solutions to your customer”.

Fekete’s favorite part about the job? Freedom. He now works in a cafe in Hungary and “might as well be in the Bahamas or elsewhere,” he said.

“I have my laptop with me, and that’s all I need.”

The above-average salary doesn’t hurt either. “I work with American clients and I live in Spain so it gives me such a fantastic lifestyle. What’s not to like?”

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