Overcoming Challenge: How I Found My Path as a Front-End Developer
by Seven Peaks on Nov 30, 2023 12:00:00 PM
I've been on my journey as a frontend developer for three years now. Despite gaining experience, there's still a lot I’m not yet familiar with. But, as they say, nobody knows everything, right? Let me share why I chose to pursue my career in this field, even without a direct background in IT studies.
Path to becoming frontend developer
I initially chose the path of teaching and earned a Bachelor's degree in Education, majoring in Business and Computer Education from Kasetsart University. While this degree wasn't directly tied to frontend development, I had some exposure to programming in high school with the C++ language. Upon entering university, I also had the chance to learn Python.
During my fifth year, I gained practical teaching experience at a public high school in Bangkok for two semesters, focusing on computer education. I taught Python and Scratch to first-year students. Despite my satisfactory teaching performance, I realized that a teaching job wasn't the right fit for me.
Starting as junior frontend developer
While searching for a developer job, I discovered a digital agency looking for junior frontend developers. Excitedly, I applied and was hired, marking the beginning of my career. They provided comprehensive guidance from the basics, laying a strong foundation for my development skills.
After a year, I developed an interest in communicating in English and aspiring to be a global citizen. However, since my current workplace was a Thai company with exclusively Thai employees, I began exploring opportunities in foreign software firms.
While participating in a React Meetup during my tenure at the previous company, I discovered the vast React community. It was during this event that I learned about Seven Peaks and observed the diverse backgrounds of its members. Later, when I noticed that Seven Peaks was actively seeking junior frontend developers specializing in React, I enthusiastically decided to submit my application.
Initially, I had concerns about whether I'd pass the recruitment process, given my limited experience in international communication. Despite my worries, I took a chance, moved through the process, and ultimately secured a position at Seven Peaks.
From prospective teacher to developer
I view teaching as a profession with initial opportunities for learning and skill development. However, as it stabilizes, it can become repetitive, raising concerns about losing motivation for improvement.
In contrast, development offers a dynamic environment that encourages continuous self-improvement. It provides flexibility, remote work options, and abundant opportunities for substantial growth. Proficiency in English communication also opens doors to work globally, unlike the relatively localized nature of the teaching profession.
While I haven't developed a deep passion for teaching as a lifelong career, the challenges and possibilities in the field of development intrigue me. Exploring this path promises personal development, a continuous learning journey, and potentially higher compensation compared to teaching.
I developed a specific interest in frontend development because, in my early exploration, backend development appeared complex and somewhat elusive. Unlike frontend, where I could see the immediate visual impact of my code, backend work seemed abstract and complex, especially API.
What drew me to frontend was the ability to craft visually appealing website interfaces using CSS. The creative aspect of enhancing the look and feel of a site greatly appealed to me.
Moreover, the encouragement and guidance from my friend, who mentioned that diving into frontend development wasn't as daunting as it might seem initially, convinced me that this could be the crucial first step in my journey to becoming a developer.
The joy in it
Upon stepping into a frontend developer role, I discovered that it really wasn't as difficult as it seemed. It just demanded a foundation in programming and a grasp of its underlying logic. Fortunately, my educational background provided some fundamentals I need for the role.
There exists both joy and challenge.
The joy arises when coding produces the desired outcome. Witnessing the functionality as anticipated is incredibly satisfying, making me feel like I’ve found my calling.
On the other hand, challenges emerge when dealing with complex issues or when my expertise is insufficient to fully understand and address specific tasks. During these instances, doubts about my capabilities may surface. However, regardless of the difficulty, we consistently overcome it successfully because we don't navigate this journey alone; we have a supportive team.
Learning from peers
Within our frontend team, we have a wealth of experienced colleagues who are always ready to offer guidance and assistance. When faced with the pressure of solving a problem independently, it doesn't become a dead end because I can always seek help from them.
There are instances where I need to develop features without a clear roadmap, prompting me to seek advice from my teammates. They guide me on planning, highlight crucial elements to consider, and provide insights on initiating the process. This guidance helps shape the initial outline and pinpoint how to start and what steps to take.
Seven Peaks experience
Joining Seven Peaks pushed me beyond my comfort zone, especially in terms of language. I believe English communication is crucial for anyone aspiring to work in an international company. Initially scared and possessing only basic English skills, I felt nervous during the interview which required heightened focus.
Despite those fears, I adapted to workplace communication automatically, reaching a point where it was no longer intimidating. During times when I couldn't catch up, I'd ask for clarification without encountering frustration from colleagues unless I misunderstood and executed something incorrectly.
The company met expectations, fostering English communication among colleagues from 35+ nations including England, France, Algeria, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, and more. Encountering people from diverse backgrounds adds enjoyment to my work.
The working environment in an international company differs from Thai companies, emphasizing logical discussions over individual preferences. However, my Scrum master remains open to our opinions, respecting decisions while also helping the team resolve issues.
Furthermore, the company organizes various engaging activities, such as Songkran, Halloween, and more. This helps the team connect and also provides ways to relieve stress from work.
At my previous workplace, projects typically had a small-scale, batch-like nature. Once a project concluded, I moved on to something else. However, since joining Seven Peaks, I've been involved in larger-scale projects like NodesNow, a substantial undertaking that goes beyond typical website coding to create software that enables hardware functionality.
I consider the biggest challenge to be communication, even within the team. Communicating in English sometimes poses difficulties since our team comprises individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Given the nature of the NodesNow project, continuous testing is required, and I need to be present at our office. Consequently, I have to communicate with remote colleagues from different time zones. It’s quite challenging for me to communicate with both spoken and written English.
Another challenge is the technical complications. For instance, in one project, I initially thought I understood the task, but upon studying the code, I discovered a custom solution, one we hadn't encountered before. Learning to fully understand this can take quite some time, and I decided to give it a try, hoping I could figure it out.
However, it turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, and I spent a significant amount of time without much progress. So, I approached the Scrum master and explained the issue, expressing the need for assistance from a senior developer. After the project, I decided to enroll in online courses to help me understand custom solutions’ complex and specific nature better.
The third challenge lies in the ongoing NodesNow project. This project poses a unique challenge because it introduces new tasks to work on almost every sprint. They constantly require new features to enhance the user experience. Unlike regular websites, their product is an application designed to run on touchscreen devices, making it an endless learning experience.
I believe I made the right decision to become a frontend developer because I genuinely enjoy the work. While it can be stressful at times, I consider it part of the norm. Since I started working as a developer, my family has begun to understand and accept my chosen path.
Moreover, I find the developer's environment enjoyable. The developer community is open-minded and treats everyone equally. Discussions are based on reasons and individual expertise.
For example, if someone suggests creating a new feature and another person disagrees, stating that the proposed approach is impractical, we can engage in a discussion. In such situations, there's no judgment based on seniority, and no one feels oppressed. We simply use reasoning to demonstrate the validity of our statements.
What I’ve gained
Firstly, I've acquired technical skills associated with frontend development, consistently broadening my expertise.
Secondly, I've gained a deeper understanding of workplace social dynamics. Initially, I may not have been adept at navigating and interacting effectively, but with time, I've matured and developed the ability to present myself more confidently.
Thirdly, I've expanded my circle of friends, with some colleagues evolving into true companions beyond the confines of work. We embark on trips together during our holidays and offer mutual support when confronted with life's challenges.
Path to future
I have an ongoing passion for expanding my knowledge in frontend development, with aspirations to become a frontend master. While I recognize that broadening my skills to encompass full-stack development, including backend understanding, could unlock additional opportunities, my dedicated interest in frontend development remains the focal point of my career.
Every year, I establish goals for personal growth. This year, I am committed to attaining proficiency in Azure DevOps, a topic I haven't explored extensively before.
Looking ahead to next year, I plan to delve deeper into WebGL, specifically understanding how to generate motion in a canvas and the underlying principles of motion calculation. This expertise, given its scarcity within our team, has the potential to significantly enhance my capabilities and extend my responsibilities beyond traditional frontend coding.
For aspiring front-enders
In today's digital age, there is an abundance of online tutorials available for frontend development. These tutorials cover a wide range of topics, starting from the basics of frontend to the advanced skills required for mastery. You can begin by reading articles, and if you find it intriguing, consider enrolling in an online course. Starting is not as challenging as it may seem. If you encounter difficulties during the course, don't hesitate to seek assistance from the instructor.
Expect to encounter failures in the initial stages of practice. Coding often leads to bugs and errors. Building confidence can be challenging, especially if you've recently transitioned to a career in frontend development. At times, you may feel tempted to give up, finding the competition overwhelming.
In reality, the true challenge lies within yourself. While having a good mentor can be beneficial, it doesn't mean you can't succeed as a developer without one.
Certainly, everyone's proficiency varies. Some may struggle to communicate effectively and might benefit from enrolling in language courses for improvement. Our team leader also encourages the idea of taking additional language practices.
It's okay not to know everything; the key is to strive for improvement.
There are numerous ways to practice communication skills; choose what you're comfortable with. Begin with a positive mindset, believing that 'I can do it.'
Don't give up before you even start. If you’re interested in working at Seven Peaks, you can apply for a job here.
Chayanit (Baimon) Manop, Frontend Developer (React) at Seven Peaks
Chayanit’s expertise revolves around 3+ years in frontend development within digital agencies. She is a developer who never stops learning, even in her free time.