Behind the scenes: A day in the life of a freelance JavaScript developer

Being a developer requires more than just good programming skills. This is how a full stack developer does the job.

Image: SeanZeroThree / iStock

Johnny Fekete attended high school in the city of Gy inr, Hungary when he was learning computer programming for the first time. “At the time I found it fascinating that you can write something and the computer then does what you tell it to do,” he says. He soon realized that he was ahead of his teachers. “You learned it from the book,” he explained, “but by the time the book goes to print the technology is already out of date – so it was really interesting that I already knew more than my teachers, simply because I learned from the Internet . ”

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Now, Fekete, 32, a freelance JavaScript developer who lives in Barcelona and works on his own startup, is on his own startup, Bonboarding, a tool that helps people create onboarding flows and product tours. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Corvinus University in Budapest and studied economics and computer science. At that time he wasn’t ready to become a programmer.

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“I had a very bad stereotype about programmers,” he said, “and it was on my mind that I didn’t want to be one of them.” (At the time, he thought a software developer would eat chips in front of his computer all the time, ”he said. But most of the developers he knows love hiking, climbing, and crossfit – and are“ really social people ”.) Business school was useful, because he learned what companies need in terms of software.

A software engineering degree isn’t essential, Fekete said, especially if you’re self-taught and can solve problems. “The whole industry is really open,” he said. “They’re the most open to remote work. They care least about the college background in the field because they just care about you being able to do the thing.” And since the common programming language is English, it’s easier for people of different backgrounds to get involved too, he said.

“I think I’m a successful freelancer because I don’t just think in terms of code, but also think about what my customers need, what requirements they have and how I can adapt that to software,” he explains.

After graduating from Corvinus, Fekete completed a master’s degree in business administration and business informatics at Copenhagen Business School and worked for a marketing agency.

As a self-proclaimed self-starter, he decided to move to Barcelona and from there became a “real freelancer”.

Fekete works with JavaScript – one of many programming languages ​​- which is more front-end and is well suited for creating sophisticated websites. Many languages ​​can be applied to specific tasks, but some are better for specific use cases. Java, for example, is something “corporate” and good for the development of robust systems, for example for financial or health institutions, said Fekete.

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Working as a freelancer isn’t much different from working in an office, Fekete said. Both jobs usually have a quick check-in, a five-minute stand-up. And both would have a customer meeting every two weeks, for example at the start of the week, because “in programming we normally think in two-week cycles,” he explained, “that’s called a sprint”. This is a type of project management where a development team can look for bottlenecks or obstacles to completing a project.

The sprints can start with information such as image assets or the text or access to some of the systems that are required, for example, before starting work on a new project. And no matter what programming language is used, the process is similar, he emphasized.

After tasks are set up, they are entered into the project management system like Jira. And then it’s solo work – but that’s not just programming.

“I would be lying if I said that I program eight hours a day,” said Fekete, “because it is impossible.”

Instead, he spends a lot of time reading and learning new information. “And sometimes the best progress happens when you don’t look at the screen, just think in the shower,” he said.

“What’s a big part of being a developer – it’s really hard to make estimates because you never know that something you think is so easy and it might block you for a week, while doing something that was thought difficult and then found an online solution that is really easy to implement. “

At the end of the sprint, he presented his work to the team or the customer.

Often times, work is about problem solving. If a random error occurs, it must be corrected immediately. “It really adds some excitement to your life because maybe suddenly a system has stopped working and 10,000 users are waiting for you to fix it,” he said. “That too is part of a developer’s life.”

A particular challenge arose with a marketing company in Denmark, where suddenly all hosted sites were no longer accessible online. All developers got together and had to step in to find a solution. “They were projects for big, big clients, and we really had to get them back online,” he said. It was also a “nice bonding experience. Because all developers who otherwise work individually, we had to leave everything and just concentrate on this topic together,” he said.

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“To remain a good developer, you have to keep learning,” he said. “That goes for higher education and afterwards too. It changes so, so quickly, that you can’t afford to use the same things as you did two years ago, because then it’s out of date.”

Online tutorials and Udemy courses are also of great help. Fekete also listens to podcasts to learn more if he wants to learn more about parts of his job beyond programming.

He also relies on Twitter, where “there is a really vibrant community of developers and they love to teach, so you can just follow some people and you just won’t be able to miss the progress because they keep going.” tweet “. about it and also show you the little tricks and tips. “This is essential to” provide your customers with the latest technologies and solutions “.

Fekete’s favorite part about the job? Freedom. He now works in a café in Hungary and “might as well be in the Bahamas or wherever,” he said.

“I have my laptop with me and that’s all I need.”

The above-average salary doesn’t hurt either. “I work with American clients and I live in Spain which gives me a fantastic lifestyle. What should I not like?”

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July 16, 2021