October 13, 2023 — 8 min read
Joshua's Journey: Code, Career, and Ed-Tech
Josh is a senior frontend engineer in Canada with over 7 years of engineering experience working in the Ed-Tech space
Hey Joel, thanks for the opportunity here. My name's Josh, I'm Australian born, living in Vancouver, Canada now and work full time as a Senior Frontend Engineer for a Bay area company called Course Hero. I’ve been a dev now for about 7 years, and really enjoy the Ed-tech space!
Sure! I kind of got lucky in the end but when I was 24 and completely unsure where I wanted to end up, I randomly picked a 2 year software development course based only on the fact I used to help people style their Myspace pages when that was a thing. I had a pretty rough experience at university due to our class falling apart due to dropouts and not even a timetable the first half of our second year, but I had one amazing teacher who kept me on track, got me work experience and I kept studying and landed a 6 week internship later into the second year and got offered my first junior frontend job!
What are some of the most significant challenges you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
I would say the first one was trying to learn and keep ahead the first few weeks of a job I thought I was under-prepared for. So many things such as proper version control techniques, navigating large codebases and other things were very overwhelming at first as a junior. I survived by asking a billion questions to the very fortunate devs who sat next to me and trying to remain confident in my own skills. I had a lot of good support within a healthy environment which really helped.
Second challenge I would say is burnout. It’s been really important to take breaks when you feel like you need them and take a step back at times. If you truly enjoy the work, which I do, you always come back feeling much more refreshed and motivated
Over the years, how have you seen the tech landscape change, and how have you adapted to those changes?
What advice would you give to junior developers looking to get into senior positions in their careers?
Take time to really dissect code reviews from other senior staff and learn new and different ways of how and why they structure their code. Ask questions, don’t be embarrassed or shy. It’s important to keep an open mind and I think you can learn a lot this way. It’s something I’ve always sought after where I work.
Ooof there is a lot here, but my favorites are certain creators on Youtube, Devs and engineers on twitter/x that are heavily involved in the frontend landscape and authors on libraries. I try and tailor it to the stuff I’m interested in. Egghead and FrontendMasters are also great investments!
How do you maintain a work-life balance, especially when dealing with complex projects or tight deadlines?
This has gotten a lot harder since working from home the last 3-4 years. Learning when to sign off, opposed to logging on and working through the night is always a blurry line, but boundaries are important and realizing your mental health comes first. Burnout is very real and can really impact your life.
I always try to organize my week with enough social and personal time and stick to the plans I make for them, though I’m definitely not perfect there - especially in crunch weeks. It’s been a pretty tumultuous time in tech for a lot of companies in our area so the pressure to stand out and do well is a lot higher as of late, but it’s something that’s always in mind and that I’m aware of.
I’m pretty active when I’m not injured, and play a lot of competitive beach volleyball in the summer months, and snowboard in the winter. I try to workout 4-5 days a week, and recently started teaching myself to play guitar. I was previously a drummer for 12 years so this has been fun to get back into playing and creating music again.
I try to wake up around 6:30am and get to the gym, if I’m still too tired I’ll head at lunch but coffee is by far my best friend and the thing I look forward to the most lol But once I’m back, I’ll make one of the five/six meals of the day (working from home struggles?) and then logon, check my emails and schedule for the day and create a small list of the tasks I need to get done for the day. I’d probably spend about 3-4 hours of actual productive time coding in a day and usually am best off getting this done in the morning if I can. The rest of my time is split between meetings, breaks and eating, as well as wasting a good amount of time on social media and creating content :D After work, I’ll either spend time on personal projects, head out to a park/beach if it’s sunny or relax at home.
That’s tough, I’m really happy where I am and the path and work I did to get here. I probably would have tried to make more connections early on and network more but that’s probably it!
Lastly, could you share what the future holds for you? Are there any exciting projects or learning opportunities on the horizon?
I definitely see myself working in the frontend space for quite some time, I’m not too interested in a managerial role or anything. But lately I have been working pretty hard on designing and developing templates to sell to both clients and on a few different online marketplaces for a ton of different sectors. I took upon a short 12 week UI design course to help with the design side but I’m really enjoying this and have a ton of ideas and templates planned that are coded in different tech stacks (react, astro, framer, barebones html/css etc) that I can’t wait to share with people!
Also wanted to say a big thanks for the amazing work you’re doing here, helping bring our community together! Happy coding!
It was such a pleasure speaking with Josh. Be sure to follow him on Instagram, he shares lots of frontend tips and tricks. If you enjoyed this article then you'll surely enjoy the newsletter. If you haven't already, consider dropping your email so you don't miss out when we drop a new article. Keep debugging!
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