Blacklane Developer Journeys: Irina – Frontend Developer

At Blacklane, we have a diverse and growing engineering team. Every month, new faces appear among us, often adding to the long list of countries that are represented here. We started this interview series because we wanted to give our developers an opportunity to tell us about their background, share their interests, and answer the question, “How did you end up at Blacklane?” We figure everyone has a story to tell, and since Blacklaners come from all over the world, and more and more work all over the world, it’s fascinating to hear about what brought them to our company.

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Irina. Irina joined Blacklane in November 2017 as a frontend developer.

Where are you from, and what is your minimum viable autobiography?

I’m from Russia, specifically the city Ulyanovsk, where Lenin was born. I graduated university in 2015, and after that, I started my career as a frontend developer.

When did you realize you wanted to write code for a living?

At school, when I was very young, we had informatics lessons. In those lessons, we did programming exercises using Pascal. It was easy for me, and I always helped others with it. At that time, however, I didn’t consider becoming a developer or doing something related to it. I’ve never been a nerd or computer geek.

When it came time to choose a university, it was hard for me to determine whether to study liberal arts or engineering. In the end, I chose to do half economics and half informatics. I considered doing foreign languages and applied linguistics, but I thought my English level was too low. It’s a shame because if I had done that course, I’d be able to speak German now!

After university, I had a choice: to be a developer or to be an accountant. And you know what I picked. I liked programming more than accounting. But technically, I am an economist with computer science knowledge or a developer with economics domain knowledge. I realized, though, that I didn’t want to be an economist. It’s too boring for me.

I like coding because you can see the results of what you’ve done instantly. You have power in your hands. I like that “aha” moment after a hard task and the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. This makes me curious about future tasks and projects.

What brought you to Blacklane?

Blacklane’s talent management team contacted me through when I was looking for a new job. They found me three days after my resume was approved, I had my first phone screen a few days after that, on a Friday, and by Tuesday, I was onsite and had an offer the same day. It was pretty quick.

At the time, they were running an SICP course. When I heard that, I was surprised, and it was a positive sign for me. So I accepted the offer. I enjoy my colleagues at Blacklane, the team I work with, and the agile approach we use. The company really seems to care about people.

As a developer, how do you feel about living and working in Berlin?

It’s amazing! So many Meetups and possibilities to grow and to communicate with others. So many startups… You can find everything and do whatever you like. It’s pretty easy to find people with a similar mindset here. If you want to do Angular, there’s an Angular Meetup. Or you can go to the React Meetup. If you’re interested in Vue.js, you can even go to a Vue.js Meetup.

I also like walking in parks with my dog, and there are a lot of parks here. Berlin is a multinational city, and it’s an amazing opportunity to work with people from different countries and to learn more about them. I like trying new cuisines, too, and Berlin gives me a good opportunity to do it pretty often.

Why do you enjoy staring at a screen for hours and hours every day, manipulating symbols that tell a machine what to do?

This job has several phases for me, which I enjoy because of their differences. First, the analysis and understanding of a problem. The next one is searching for a solution to that problem. Finally, after using whatever languages and resources you need, you’ll have solved it. And now you can enjoy the results. Mostly. I like this, and it’s possible to see the results of your work quite fast.

How do you find working on a team versus working alone?

You can go faster alone, but you can go further only with a team. If you have a short-term goal, it is better to hire three senior developers who will work in parallel and accomplish it in a short time. But in the long term, they will continue working in parallel and won’t exchange much knowledge with each other. Working in a team gives you the possibility to grow in your soft skills and hard skills, and social activities increase the happiness of developers. It’s an individual matter for each person, but I still think that developers need it, too.  

Do you have any favorite languages, technologies, or frameworks? What do you like about them? Are there any that you secretly despise?

Actually, nope. These days, I’ve been thinking that a language has a purpose, and if I use it for that purpose, it should work fine. I mean, if you like C++, and you want to write a web application, you can do this, but you will feel a lot of pain. I’ve heard some stories about web servers written in C++. Not fun. Your choice of language should be dictated by your task, first of all. In the past, I had a strong opinion that Python is the best language in the world. I’m doing JavaScript now. Maybe that’s the reason I don’t have a favorite language anymore!

As for frameworks or libraries, I don’t have any preferences, either. I worked with Angular 1.4, Polymer 0.5, React. All of them have pros and cons. When you’re writing code, you immediately feel the difference between their ecosystems. I like the flexibility of React, but with it comes the responsibility to integrate different libraries and important architecture questions. But I always like to try new technologies.

If you could change one thing about JavaScript, what would it be and why?

It’s perfection! I’m kidding. Nothing comes to mind. JavaScript is so different in different environments since each browser can support a different set of features. With ES6 it looks better. Actually, I like that in Go you can return multiple values at the same time. It would be convenient to have in JavaScript, but I don’t think it’s possible that it will ever happen.

What is it like being a woman in a field that is dominated by men?

First of all, everyone is a human and a professional in something, independent of their sex. I believe in this. So far in my career, I have only had colleagues with a similar mindset. But I heard some stories about men who don’t like women as coworkers and don’t take them seriously. I’m surrounded by men who care about this more than I do. They give it so much attention, but I never had this experience.

What role do developers have in the world, do you think? Are we just passive code robots, or do we have responsibility for the impact of our work on society?

Yes, developers have an influence on the world. Honestly, yeah, we have a responsibility for the impact of our work. And at the same time, it gives meaning to it.

What are you looking for in a company when you’re considering a job? What is most important to you, and what is least important?

I look at a standard set of features: the possibility to learn and teach, a strong team, an interesting project, etc. The result of a job search most of the time is a lottery. Yeah, it’s true. It can be a cool company, but a bad team and a boring project. Or some legacy codebase which you need to support. You never have a full picture of a company after interviews. You’ve just heard about it, but what you hear and what you see—it can be completely different. When I joined Blacklane, I won. I have already learned a lot here and really appreciate it.

If you are interested in joining Blacklane, feel free to head over to our career page. You will not only find our open positions there but also even more reasons why you should work with us!