I had the opportunity to talk to Jan-Niklas Wortmann, RxJS Core Team Member in Pragmatic Coders’ office in Krakow, where he supported a workshop about software development for beginners. The workshop was hosted by Katarzyna Puczko with the support of ngGirls (http://ng-girls.org/), an organization that aims to increase diversity and introduce women to the world of technology.
Łukasz: Hello and welcome to Krakow, Poland. How did you get involved in the software industry, what’s your story?
Jan: To be honest, it’s nothing special. In school, I wanted to become a maths teacher. At some point, I realized that I like computer science more than maths and decided to focus on programming. I did well in my first projects and was able to work for real customers, even during my apprenticeship. It was challenging but very valuable. I learned a lot about web development.
About the workshop and ngGirls
Ł: What brought you to the Angular workshop for women?
Jan: I had an idea for a similar workshop that would focus on RxJS. I was already familiar with ngGirls, so when Katarzyna Puczko wrote to me about this initiative, I wanted to support as much as possible. I think that the workshop helps to understand all the common parts of RxJS and Angular. I also like that these workshops are held on a regular basis.
Ł: What’s your desired outcome from supporting the Angular workshops?
Jan: The most important thing for me is to support people who want to get into professional software development, as much as possible. I consider myself very lucky – I haven’t faced many difficulties in my professional career so far, and I want to help people to get a good start and have a similar positive experience. Workshops like these are an easy way for me to do it. As a mentor, I can give something back to the community.
Ł: That’s great. What do you think about today’s workshop at Pragmatic Coders?
Jan: I really like it so far. I was surprised that most of the participants haven’t been involved in IT before. That’s interesting because I expected some of them to be working in IT already. It’s fascinating to meet so many people from different sectors who are passionate to learn programming. It can be challenging to explain difficult IT concepts to newcomers, but it’s really cool.
About the software development community
Ł: What excites you about being a software developer?
Jan: There are several things I like about it. One thing is definitely the community. I especially like the Angular community – it’s very open-minded and people are kind to each other. My sisters work in the finance department of a company, and there is no such thing as a community where they can exchange ideas about “finance”. So the community was a nice surprise for me. Before I started working in IT, I liked the idea of creating something that helps people in their life passion in some way. It can even be an internal tool for a company, like the one I’ve been working on. I think this tool benefits some people and makes their lives easier. This is something that really drives me.
Ł: Since you mentioned community – there’s a theory of motivation, based on three principles: autonomy, relatedness, and competence. People are motivated when they have the autonomy to solve a challenge in their own way. People like a sense of belonging in a community at work or in a project. Finally, people need to constantly improve their knowledge and skills. So based on autonomy, relatedness and competence, the theory is that this motivates people much more than external motivators, whether it’s financial or something else.
Jan: I honestly don’t think anyone will work late just for a bonus. There has to be something more that drives people to work late. I’ve never met anyone who would work extra hours just to get a financial reward, but they might do it to get a product to production if they feel passionate about that.
Ł: Do you think this has to do with the industry or the generation?
Jan: I think it’s more related to the industry, mostly because we’re very open-minded. We’re into what we’re doing and we’re very passionate about it. I don’t think it has to do with the generation very much, but that’s just my guess.
About beginning a career in software development
Ł: What’s your advice to people who would like to start working with software development?
Jan: First of all, I would go to meetups to meet the local community and talk about the problems you face and the things you have achieved already. Connecting with the local community has many advantages. You get to know people with similar problems and people you can contact if something unexpected comes up. It’s great to have conversations about what you do. It’s like saying “OK, I did this and I’m really proud because it wasn’t an easy task to solve, but there may be better ways to do it”. Sharing makes you reflect on what you did and it also motivates you to achieve more.
When I started working as a software developer, I wasn’t aware of meetups. I attended my first conference two years ago and that was the first time I came across it. I don’t know what it’s like here in Poland, but meetups are not very common in Germany. And I consider them very valuable for everyone.
I would also read blog posts because there are some very good ones out there. It really helps to get an idea of how other people solve problems, even if it’s completely unrelated to what you are doing at that moment. So these are the first things I would do – go to meetups and read blog posts.
Ł: Do you have any favourite authors or blog posts?
Jan: There are two authors I really appreciate and they’re both in the RxJS core team. One is Ben Lesh (http://www.benlesh.com/), who’s an insanely smart guy. The other is Nicholas Jamieson (http://cartant.com/) – I have the feeling that he publishes a new blog post more or less every day. They are both really good, but both are related to RxJS.
Łukasz: It was great to talk to you, thanks!
Jan: Thank you very much. You’re very welcome.