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A Day in the Life of a Front-End Developer [Ani]

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Greetings and salutations, dear DevriX blog readers!

In today’s episode, we’re talking to one of our front-end developers, Anita Nenova.

Learn all about her daily routine, what made her change her career path, the advice she would give to beginners, and much more.

And in case you’ve missed out on our previous interviews, here are the rest of our interviews:

A Day in the Life of a Recruiter/HR [Molly] – DevriX
A Day in the Life of a Backend Developer [Emo] – DevriX
A Day in the Life of a Project Coordinator [Reni] – DevriX
A Day in the Life of a Front-end Team Lead [Tony] – DevriX
A Day in the Life of a Marketing Coordinator [Elly] – DevriX
A Day in the Life of a Graphic Designer [Niki] – DevriX

A Day in the Life of a Front-End Developer

Hello, Ani! Thank you for the interview. For starters, could you share something about yourself?
Hi, Denis, many thanks for this interview. About myself, I graduated from the National Trade and Banking High School, majored in Banking in French. After that I attended and graduated from Sofia University, studying Business Administration and Management, again in French.

However, in the middle of my University studies, I decided to change my career path, and here I am now, a few years later, as a front-end developer at DevriX.

Interesting. So, from Trade and Banking to Business Administration, and now – front-end development – what sparked your interest in development?
After my second year at University, I started working at a French insurance company (in Sofia), and my duties there included handling documents in French – quite a monotonous job. I had a month of training, and from thereon – I did nothing new.

I managed to endure it for four months, and then one day, I said to myself that this is not “my” thing. I wanted to do something different, challenging, where I was able to learn something new every day. That was when, I changed my career path.

Funnily enough, I had some acquaintances that worked in programming. I understood nothing about it at the time, but for some reason, I found, listening to my friends talk shop,  that I was intrigued about what they were doing. So, I told them that I wanted to learn more, they gave me a couple of videos to watch, and then they gave me a task to do afterward.

From the very first video, I was hooked. It encouraged me to think in a way I wasn’t used to. Everything was very logically structured, and time just flew by. In the end, I said to myself: this is it!

I wanted to learn more about everything, I’m not the typical developer, who graduated from SoftUni. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure which aspect of development I wanted to take on, so I went through a few phases. I started with C# – the programming language my acquaintances were working with. During this time, I saw that everything was leading me to the front-end part of development.

I started to realize the only way I could improve, was to change my career path. I started learning JavaScript, HTML, CSS, React, and so on. Later, I began working here, at DevriX, where I managed not only to obtain quite a lot of experience, but to develop as a person as well.

One of our front-end developers - Anita Nenova

Programming was love at first sight, I understand, or maybe from the second sight?
Well, yes. Actually, here’s a fun fact, which I realized years later, knowing now what front-end development is. When I was a child, and my parents got me my first computer, and there was this website, which mainly consisted of games, but you also had a profile with a “wall”, where you could upload photos, descriptions, and so on.

Instead of playing the games, I spent 90% of my time on the website, trying to “rebuild” my wall – I uploaded pictures, rewrote descriptions, etc. I had even found another website, which provided the HTML code for around 50 pictures that you could use freely.

Crazy thing was, I wasn’t even sure how it worked back then, I simply copied the code, and it worked. I was amazed! However, eventually, I got bored with those pictures, and wondered what else I could do to be able to upload different pictures. Then it happened! I just replaced some parts of the code, the URL, and I managed to upload my own picture!

I’m not sure why or how, but I eventually stopped playing around with that website. Fast forward to the time when I started learning HTML, and my memories from childhood came flooding back, and I realized what I had been doing, without realizing it, back then. And I always dreamt of doing something interesting as a kid.

The key to your future was in you from way back then.
Yes, but I didn’t realize it (laughing).

Well, maybe it was waiting to be revived again, I guess?
That’s right! Here we are, our paths meet again.

Such impressions usually leave lasting memories. One could say you were destined to become a developer. Judging by the interviews with other colleagues, their interest in the field they’re working in, is quite often inspired by childhood curiosity.

Back to the present. I must congratulate you on becoming a WP Core Contributor on the WordPress 6.1 release. Can you share a bit more about how that happened? What did you do to receive this acknowledgement?
Well, I didn’t expect I would become a contributor. We had a contributor day at the office, and decided I should give it a try, as well. I remember trying to figure it out all day long – which patch to start working on, which task to handle…and so on. Finally, I chose one, and WordPress eventually accepted the code I had written.

Funny enough, at the end of the day I was wondering whether I should commit my code or not. Eventually, I decided to give it a shot, I did spend my entire day on it.

Our CTO, Stanko helped me, we committed it, and a few months later, I got an email saying it had been approved. At first, I didn’t quite understand what was going on, as I had forgotten all about the contribution, but then it hit me.

It had mainly been all fun and games, however, I’m now a proud WordPress Core Contributor. It’s really cool, and yet another example of how you should do things without worrying if you’ll make it or not. That’s how miracles happen. It’s odd to describe the exact feeling, but it’s a good one.

As they say, “Do what you have to, and let whatever has to happen – happen.” Are there any other achievements you’re proud of? You’ve been at DevriX for almost 2 years now, haven’t you?
My biggest personal achievement is that I changed my personal outlook. Before I started working at DevriX, I had the habit of quitting easily, I didn’t believe in myself, and that I could achieve something meaningful.

But here, when I have client tasks, I don’t have a choice – I have to find a solution, to be more creative. In the beginning, I was quite timid, and had some insecurities, and fears. Then they (colleagues) told me I shouldn’t be afraid, I should relax and to just start working on tasks. I finished my first task, and everyone was satisfied, including the client.

Then I started believing in myself, and that I could do it. And so, two years just flew by, and now I don’t even think about that – my timidness disappeared, and I achieved quite a lot. The clients are happy with my work, and I think that with the experience I gain every day, I can offer up more and more beautiful, and creative solutions. My progress is noticeable, as immodest as it may sound.

I’m definitely happy. I really enjoy working on tasks that are interesting to me. When something is challenging and gets my imagination going, I just start doing it, and I don’t realize how time flies. The best part is that the final result is good.

The most challenging part is to overcome yourself. From thereon, it gets easier.
Absolutely.

At this point, I’m certain our audience is eager to know: what does a day in the life of a front-end developer look like?
I come to work, I open Asana to check my daily tasks and priorities, and plan my day out. After that, I make some coffee and I get in the mood to start working. Depending on the tasks, I often need to synchronize with colleagues from different departments. I’m a perfectionist, and I like to fully understand my tasks before starting them. If I have ideas to make things even better than required, I ask colleagues from the back-end and design teams. A lot of times, there are tasks that appear during the day, so my workflow changes a bit, but that doesn’t bother me.

I noticed that lately I’ve started to work under pressure better, and to come up with solutions faster.

Cool. One of our core values is to never stop learning, something I know resonates with your character very well. Could you tell us: which are the most interesting things you’ve learned during your time with the company?
From a purely technical point of view, I definitely learned to always expect the unexpected. It has happened to me, to work on a given task, having an outlined plan, and all of a sudden an unforeseen problem occurs. That’s not an issue, as these situations encourage you to learn something new. That’s why experience is important, since the more difficulties you face, the more new things you learn, and in time you begin to anticipate what could go wrong.

I’m all in for people to never stop learning. The more you learn, the more you know how little you know, and that makes you want to continue learning. The satisfaction you get from learning, especially when you look back and realize the long path you’ve walked, is incomparable.

As the saying goes, learning is a journey that never ends.
Yes, and if you know everything, you’ll probably get bored.

Exactly. Now, let’s get away from work for a while, and go on a journey. As someone who loves to travel, can you share where you’ve been so far, and do you have a dream destination, where you would like to go some day?
Actually, the period I travelled the most was before I changed my career path from administration to development. It was fun – I’ve been to Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Romania. I can say that travelling on its own changes a person, because you can detach yourself from reality. You are on a trip, and you have time to get your thoughts together, and empty your mind from everything else. Once you come back home, you can appreciate what you have.

Dream destination? Maybe, the USA, because lately I’ve been watching a lot of videos with programmers from there, and it seems very different (compared to Bulgaria & Europe). I don’t know, I just want to see how life looks like there.

I hope this dream comes true for you. From the places you’ve visited so far, which one would you say you liked the most?
The first time I went to France, the purpose of the visit was to see the dormitory, and the place where I was supposed to study for one semester. In University, I was in such a class that required me to study at the University of Lille for half a year, in order to get my diploma.

It looked really nice, but after going there, I realized that it’s not something I want to do with my life (administration). I remember that I had fought really hard to obtain an excellent degree, and go there, because only 5 places for students were available, so you had to be at the top of the course. My colleagues had an advantage, because all of them had graduated from a French high school, and they had language certificates, and I didn’t.

I studied French really hard for an entire year, so I could get my certificate. I did everything within my power, they accepted me, I went to Lille with the idea of seeing where I would spend the next six months, but when I got there, I realized that it wasn’t the place or career for me (laughing).

But back to the question, I would say I liked Italy the most. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, I felt really calm there.

Now, I’m going to take you away from calm Italy, and back to front-end development. My question is this: as someone who is now experienced in the field, what advice would you give to beginners? What advice would you have wanted to receive yourself when you were starting out?
As trivial as it may sound, I would say: more practice, more work, handling more projects. That’s the way to learn better, get more experience, and try to find better solutions. Also, don’t be afraid that you don’t know how to solve a problem, or how to approach it.

When you’re passionate about something, you’ll find the best solution. Once you’ve finished the task, you’ll see that there was nothing to be afraid of, that you’ve learned something new in the process, and that you’re ultimately getting better.

Just enjoy the journey, because front-end development is an adventure.

One of our front-end developers - Ani in her workplace

So, don’t be afraid to drown in the endless ocean?
You won’t! (laughing) I remember one task, when I was still in my second or third month with the company – I had to create an infinity slider from scratch, instead of using a ready library.

However, I looked at the task from a future perspective – why should I restrict the size of the images for the slider, and so on?

I remember I dreamt of the solution to the task (laughing), because I was struggling to find it, but I had set the goal to do it better than the requirements. Then, a few days later, when I presented the solution I had come up with, the feedback was that I did it better than expected.

That’s yet another way to say that you shouldn’t give up. Just dedicate yourself to the process.

Well said. Now to change the subject towards movies. I know that something you enjoy in your free time are movies. What genres do you prefer, and have you watched anything interesting lately?
I enjoy romances, comedies, movies that distract me from reality. On the contrary, though, I recently got interested in “The Vampire Diaries” series. Generally, I prefer lighter, funnier things, but I like giving a chance to other genres, as well, because you don’t know if you will like something unless you try it.

I recently watched two great movies that I would recommend – Limitless, and Lucy.

Awesome. Last question: what is the one thing that can always make you smile?
I’m a very positive person, so smiling comes easily. I’m always looking for the positives, even in the most negative situations. So, yeah, anything can make me smile – like meeting a sweet animal on the street – I love animals. I just really appreciate the smaller things, and I think that’s very important. Being happy with what you have, finding happiness in the little things’ life has to offer – that’s what makes you a “wealthy” human being.

On the other hand, is there something that always make you sad?
Injustice makes me sad. I’m someone who loves defending those that are weaker. I enjoy the challenge of facing those that are “stronger”, at least then it’s a challenge.

A bit like the French Revolution motto: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity (laughing). Okay, once again, thank you very much for this interview. Would you like to add something else before we wrap-up?
Be positive, believe in yourself, be open-minded, and enjoy life!

Enjoy life to the fullest, and leave the heavy lifting to us.

What Is It Like to Work With Ani?

“It is a pleasure to work with Ani. She pays attention to detail and demands a lot of herself, which makes my work easier, since she strives for perfection. She is always attentive and precise in her communication with others, and above all, she is always ready to help out.”

“Ani is a passionate young lady that works towards achieving amazing things. I’m always happy to work with her and collaborate on our ongoing projects.”

“Ani is responsible, follows the instructions in her task exactly, and always strives to deliver her best solutions to the clients.”

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