What Does A Back-end Developer Do? An Interview with Women Go Tech alumna and a web developer
There is some kind of mystery surrounding back-end development. We often hear that it is something users do not see or that it is something created somewhere in the back of the websites. But with the help of Women Go Tech alumna Roberta Beniušiene who now works as a web developer, we will dispel some of the popular misconceptions about back-end development. If you are thinking about a career in IT – this interview is just for you!
What did you do before the Women Go Tech programme?
At school, I was very interested in computers but when I got to university, I went to study economics. Before I had decided to start the tech career, I have been working as a project manager with peripherals, computer components, printers and other stuff. Later, I went to a new position as a mother of twins, and after that, I took courses in one of the school.
From the beginning, I got interested in back-end development more than the front-end. Before the courses, I did not know anything about the coding, HTML – nothing!
I want to encourage everyone – you do not have to know technical skills to start, you will learn a lot later.
What are the most important skills for backend development?
You need both – technical as well as soft skills. Of course, you need to have technical skills to go into the field but I do not think that you should focus, for example, on what specific language to learn. You have to learn all the basics but in languages, the basics are the same, only the syntax is different.
Focus on those basics, try some of the popular ones likes Java, after that – try some advanced tasks so you understand how programming works.
You also need soft skills because you are working in a team, you are working with the other developers. I also work with the data scientists, so communication skills are always needed.
Looking back to your path that you have already taken. How did you acquire those skills?
Yes, I took the 6-month course in one of the coding schools, and after that, I started self-learning. I used Coursera, some YouTube channels. In the Women Go Tech programme, I got an awesome mentor that was a part of my life there. He, guided me through this path.
I believe, if you choose web development, you always have to learn. Even now, I am learning new technology because our team decided to work with a new technology for the front-end and I need to learn it. So every day, step by step, you are learning something new.
What are some of the tasks a back-end developer usually works on?
Now we are building a new Web application. As a back-end developer, I am responsible for the server-side application, logic, architecture, integration with other services.
Front-end vs back-end: we sometimes get the idea that these two are totally different worlds but is that true?
They are like separate worlds, however, they do not compete, they complement each other. So if you create things on the back-end side, you will not be able to see what is in it without the user interface (UI). So when you are building UI in the front, all the logic behind it comes from the backend.
We often hear this common misconception that the back-end is only for introverted people who are not very social and mostly work on their own, alone. Do you agree or disagree?
I believe that for the introverts, the back-end development is a good career to express themselves or to feel comfortable in the workplace as most of the time you will work on your task by yourself. But on the other hand, you need to push yourself further to communicate with the team and with other departments.
I am not a very introverted person and I feel very comfortable at my workplace because I try to get more knowledge from my colleagues and learn from them. I believe that the developers’ community is one most of the friendliest that I ever participated because everyone is sharing and helping each other.
What was the biggest challenge when you decided to switch to back-end engineering?
The biggest challenge was quitting my previous job because I really enjoyed it. The first steps were the hardest because at the time my kids were very little and I had to make some changes in my personal life.
But later when I started learning I was 100% sure that I am doing the right thing because I really enjoyed it.
Of course, I struggled sometimes but with the help of my mentor and community, those scary moments had disappeared. I believe you should not be frightened of what you do not understand. Just follow step by step, read line by line to understand and learn.
What advice would you give to those who are thinking about switching careers?
In your free time, just try things that interest you, for example, write one line of code. You just need to try it and see if you really enjoy doing it.
What was your experience of your mentor and how he helped you to achieve your goal?
I got the most amazing mentor.
He helped me to divide my goal into small actionable steps and achieve them step by step. Also, he helped me to make my first project which helped me a lot when I applied for jobs. I remember one comment during the job interview – they said that I should be really, really thankful for my mentor because this project was exactly what has allowed me to enter the interview.
What was the most valuable thing in the Women Go Tech programme for you?
Personally for me, the mentorship comes in the first place. The content sessions were also helpful for me because I heard a lot of stuff that I did not know before, like from the front-end and from mobile development.
And of course, the community! Even now I am keeping in touch with some girls that I was on the programme together.
Please find the full discussion here:
Thinking of starting career in back-end development? You can still apply for the Back-end development track until the 5th of January! Hurry up and do not miss the one-in-a-year chance to participate in the Women Go Tech programme!