After a long and dark winter, we can't hide our excitement to welcome spring.
Longer and warmer days, if you are on the north side of the globe, are just perfect to move the home office outside and work or study with even more enthusiasm.
Tupu presents in its first spring edition a special lady, Noémi Ványi, who was guided since childhood by a curiosity about how computers and electrical devices work.
Noémi has very good tips about overcoming the fear of making errors and procrastinating but also how to hold your enthusiasm high when you start learning something new.
So without further ado, let's hear about Noémi's journey in tech.
What do you currently do for work?
I am a Senior Software Engineer at Xata. Xata is a serverless database company. I am part of the backend team, working on the database service. I joined the company a few months ago.
What is your educational background?
I graduated with a degree in Computer Science Engineering, specializing in Software Development from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. I was also an intern at a Hungarian firm that develops IT security systems and related services.
When and how did you get started being interested about programming/tech industry, and how did you learn?
I have been interested in computers and most of the things capable of conducting electricity since I was a child. I always knew I wanted to work with computers somehow. Even though no one I knew worked in the tech industry.
Initially, I learnt by building a basic website about my favorite band at the time. We had a small Hungarian community around the same age discussing web design, development, etc. at a forum that was run by one of the community members. But creating websites was not enough for me, I wanted to know how computers work, how the internet works, and how anything related to IT works. So I went to university to learn even more.
Working on software is a group effort
Which books/online courses/websites were helping you the most on your journey?
I usually learn about new things by reading books. One of the most impactful books is Clean code by Robert C. Martin. When I read it I already knew how to code in multiple languages on my own. But I realized that working on software is a group effort, and I must write code that is easy to understand.
Another book I recommend to every woman working in a male-dominated field is Hardball for women by Pat Heim. Although few things in the book are outdated, she gives a good recipe for competing with men in the workplace.
Recently, I've enjoyed reading and trying to build apps that were detailed in Open source architecture: aosabook.org/en/index.html
Last but not least, GitHub and open-source software have helped me a lot. When I am curious about how something works, I hop on Github to find a project that solves the problem. For example, now I am learning Rust. I am building various little tools. But before even starting to code I read through some of the public Rust projects to see what is idiomatic to the language. I look at at least 2-3 projects so I can discover patterns and conventions.
By teaching, I am actually learning new things
How has mentorship played a role in your tech career?
Mentorship has always felt like magic to me. When I am a mentee, I usually get answers to questions I was stuck with for a long time, or I am introduced to something that opens up a whole new world to me. Most of my aha moments come from talking to people much smarter than me.
When I am the mentor, it is rewarding to see the mentee succeed in something I helped them with. It is always good to see that you had a positive impact on someone's life. Also, I enjoy explaining things to others, it helps me organize my knowledge and identify weaknesses in my understanding. So by teaching I am actually learning new things.
Once you let go of your fear of failure, you can grow much quicker
What do you wish you had known when you started your career in tech? What advice would you give your younger self?
Once you let go of your fear of failure, you can grow much quicker. The earlier you can correct your false belief or uncover your error, the earlier you can reach your goals. Whenever I catch myself procrastinating on something, I know it is because I am afraid of making a mistake. But mistakes are part of everyday life. Everything is a work in progress.
My most hilarious blunder happened at my first job when I was an intern. I was new to Git, and I accidentally deleted the custom test framework we used to run end-to-end tests. I don't remember exactly how but it got pushed to the main branch. My commit broke every test, so all of the nightly builds failed. We only noticed the issue the next day, my change got reverted and the world did not end.
The earlier you can correct your false belief or uncover your error, the earlier you can reach your goals
What would you recommend to someone who is interested in starting with coding/designing/managing, but doesn't know exactly where to start?
Build as many projects as you can. At first, everything will suck. But the more time you spend coding, the quicker you can get through the bad parts. It does not matter what you are building. It does not have to be useful. The point is to create something. When I am learning myself I try to follow the guidelines of Chindogu to take off the pressure.
Furthermore, subscribe to newsletters, visit tech forums and join mailing lists. You can always find great tips or tricks, or interesting projects to look at.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What are you curious about?
I enjoy reading books about economics, engineering, physics, politics, etc. Basically, I am interested in learning how things work, be it man-made objects or natural phenomena.
I am also a maintainer of searx, a privacy respecting meta-search engine. Sometimes I am fixing bugs, answer questions, and anything that a maintainer usually does. I recently started to learn Rust, and I am building many silly, little projects for my own entertainment.
I also like going on hikes with my partner and our dog or watching The Big Bang Theory for the 1000th time.