Interview with Salmin Skenderovic

How did you get started in web dev?

I started using some different Swedish social media back when I was a kid - and in those, you could edit your profile using HTML. This combined with my general interest in Computers and Technology, put me on a path towards software and webapp development.

Can you tell us a bit about your career path, what companies did you work at and how long? Where are you now?

I started my path within eCommerce, at a smaller firm. It was a great place to grow at. Later on I transitioned to becoming a consultant at Sogeti. My career path was spontaneous and I transitioned over to working at Resurs Bank for a while, and then I got a great opportunity at Consid. I would have stayed there if I didn't have to move to the U.S. Boston.

Ok so you've recently moved to the US, can you tell us a bit about that experience and how easy or hard it was to find a webdev related job in Boston?

There are so many opportunities in Boston. But there is equally as much competition for each opportunity. The difference here is that you are competing with people who studied at MIT, Harvard, Boston University and it shows. For each message or job-ad I responded to I was met with very hard technical interviews. I had to practice doing code-assignments daily in order to be ready for a technical interview. It is something I have not had to do in Sweden as much. A thing that positivly surprised me in Boston was that the most people I talked to who worked in IT bussiness, whether they were a recruiter, a product owner, or a manager they understood techinical stuff I was talking about which meant less lengthy explaning from my side and more time to focus on fun stuff.

Your favorite library or framework and why?

Currently, it's React, I've been working it it for a couple of years now. While it may have some downsides, I feel the most joy when I develop in React. It's a solid framework that does what it is supposed to do, make it easier and faster to build scalable webapps for browsers.

What is your current tech-stack?

The company I am currently at here in Boston, we work with microservices built in NodeJs, hosted on AWS. The frontend for our app is built in Angular 9. There are a lot more tooling around these stacks, such as UI-tests, integration tests, CI/CD.

What excites you about web development?

A lot of things excite me about web development:

- New sophisticated solutions.
- Having built something which I can show my coworkers/friends and get their appreciation.
- Sometimes I can get frustrated about how hard some things are, or how much overhead is needed to implement a solution to a problem. So whenever some new tech emerges that solves your previous frustrations I get really excited. It's almost as if someone gave you a present.
- Sometimes you take the task upon yourself to create this tech, and the result can be very rewarding.

How has Corona and current situation affected you when it comes to your work?

Because I recently moved to a new country and I was looking for a job Corona came at a really bad time. As I was waiting for my work visa to be approved, on Linkedin I was getting messaged quite a lot about job opportunities. However just when I finally got my work visa approved, the worst period of Corona had kicked in a qurantine had begun. A lot of people even in IT were losing their jobs. I was not so sure I'de be able to get the job even with all my experience. However I did not give up, so daily I continued to apply for any available position I could find online. After a while I was lucky enough to land a webdeveloper position at an IT company that practiced remote work even before Corona took over the world and forced most companies to adapt remote approach over the night.

What would you like to share with the new generation of web developers just entering the job market?

One thing that I didn't know when I was coming in as a Junior developer was that - You don't need to know everything coming into a new job. You are not expected to be expert at company's preferred tech-stacks, but instead are expected to become good at it over the course of next 6-8 months. So you don't have to be worried about not knowing enough. You will learn more and become better at it if you keep focused at it and improve daily.

With that said, I would say that being a software engineer is similar to playing sports, or an instrument. If you spend only office hours working on your craft eventually you'll become better. However if you continue improving your skills on your free time, working on your own hobby projects, you'll improve that much quicker and become experienced developer much faster.

What technologies should they focus on?

Pick one backend programming language and learn one modern framework that has everything you need. For example: Python with Django, PHP with Laravel. C# with ASP.NET and MVC. With this pair you will learn most things needed about routing, web-requests, api etc.

Complement this with a modern framework for frontend (Vue, React or Angular) and you will be ready for most of the common tasks required in web development. You don't have to become a master at something in order to work with it. Just building a web-service in Node that returns mock-data is enough for you to get started on a path of web developer.

How can they stand out from the crowd?

I guess it depends on your ambitions, but my best tip is to have a hobby project you can talk about. This project should be easy to demo (host it on the web). It can be a project that is completely unnecessary, but looks cool.

For example: use the spotify api to create your own spotify web client. If you do this and you demo this application at an interview, the interviewer will immediately know that you understand OAuth, consuming API:s, building and configuring your project, among others things that come with building a web application.

Tell us about your personal web dev projects if any!

Me and a friend created this tool for the construction industry. We initially thought about selling it to construction-companies but we lacked the "selling power" and we put it aside. We spent a couple of hundred of hours building it and it really pushed my career growth as I started to pick up these new technologies on my spare time. It resulted in a pay-bump in the company I was working in at that time.

How do you feel about test driven development? Do you feel it's a necessary part of web application development? Should it be done from the start of the project or can one adapt it later after first prototypes are finished?

I do believe that any kind of tests add value to a project, whether it's TDD or BDD, or integration tests. But I don't believe they are necessary.

If you want TDD then you should start with the tests according to the approaches that have been discussed - but you can add them later on and still get values from tests. Those are my beliefs.

What do you think about Typescript? Do you like using it instead of just regular javascript?

TypeScript is one of the greatest things that ever happened to javascript. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it. You can still use .js-files. For people who believe it slows down your development I say, start looking into configuring your typescript-config so that you aren't enforced to put types everywhere, but you can still do so whenever you feel like it. And as a last resort. TypeScript might slow you down in the beginning but once you are used to using it, you won't be able to go without it.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now when it comes to the IT industry.

It's hard to say. I'm competitive but I never had that high ambitions career-wise. Hopefully I will figure out what I want to do with my life by then :)

Can you share a picture of your working place and your work station.

Sure, here is a cosy picture of my workplace. I'm working remotely so this is in my apartmant.

Where can people find you?

People me can find me on LinkedIn