Meet The Team: Junior Front-End Developer, Liam Gardner

Author Liam
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Name: Liam Gardner

Position: Junior Front-End Developer

Years with Flipdish: 1.5 years

Nationality: Irish

Language: English

A vague early interest in coding

OK, let's do this - in 1000 words or so you will learn how I went from aspiring developer to full-time developer at a tech startup. The dream, right?

Let me tell you how it all happened.....Once upon a time, out of nowhere really, I decided I wanted to be a developer. Well that's kind of a lie, as I do have vague memories of typing out lines of BASIC on my Commodore 64, at the age of seven, waiting for a balloon to fly across the screen.

Another memory years later is somebody asking me to put a website together for them, complete with inline styles and no JavaScript ('What's JavaScript?!'). So there was something there, some kind of yearning to understand the area in general, but I just never got around to devoting real time and effort to coding

Doing Computer Science as an elective college subject

However, when I went to college to study Music I grabbed the chance to do Computer Science as an elective subject. That way there was no pressure, as it was just an elective. Taking the Computer Science class really just confirmed my biggest fears, that maybe I was studying the wrong subject in Music.

Anyway, fast-forward another few years and I found myself again messing around with some PHP, trying to put together a script to automate downloading some game cover art. This led me to the coding tutorial website freeCodeCamp. I accidentally stumbled across their HTML/CSS/JS material and found myself engrossed. This was easy! Well, relative to what I'd come across before. It was so well laid out and simple to follow that I was immediately feeling a sense of 'Yeah, I can do this, coding ain't so hard'.

Now, self-learning is all very well and good but it can be hard to keep it up, especially with two kids running around looking for your attention! Those YouTube coders made it look easy but I knew I needed to dedicate myself, and preferably somewhere away from distractions

Taking on a full-time course to enhance my skills

I researched some courses and came across the perfect description on a full-time Solas course. The course outline promised to teach us how to code "fully responsive, beautiful mobile-first websites using HTML, CSS, and JAVASCRIPT". This was perfect for me, as those web technologies were all I thought mattered in the world of front-end development, and definitely enough to get started.

The course took some time to get going, but it was a really good introduction to taking designs and turning them into fully functional websites. This was a great selling point, but one of the main reasons I applied for the course was the promise of work experience. Near the end of the year we were given our job placements - and mine was in a startup called Flipdish!

Martina, the course tutor handed me the details of the placement and I'll never forget the list of technologies Flipdish used. My heart dropped. Before this I was confident, all the exams and exercises had gone really well and I had no difficulty with the concepts, but when I saw that list I freaked out! TypeScript, React, Redux and others - the list seemed endless. "Doesn't anyone want some CSS or HTML?", I wondered. What was I getting myself into?

Starting with Flipdish and feeling welcome

That fateful first day at Flipdish soon arrived. Before I got there the CTO Tamas had contacted me and had already set up a Flipdish email address for me. It was a small thing but it made me feel really welcome.

When I got there Tamas greeted me, showed me around and soon introduced me to Viktor. He would be tasked with mentoring me/looking after me/ helping me/ripping my code apart/guiding me - well you get the idea! It was Viktor's job to get me up-to-speed as quickly as possible, to find out what I knew and what I didn't know (which was a lot!).

Over the next three months of work experience I slowly built up my knowledge of React, Redux, TypeScript and JavaScript in general. I learned so much more than any class could teach me. For instance, software version control - I had never used it before and I still remember the fear of merging branches in those first few months. Viktor would always be on-hand to revert changes or help sort out any issues with it.

Gaining valuable experience and securing a full-time position

Near the end of the three months Tamas gave me the task of working on Flipdish's web portal, which was a big thing for me. To work on code that was actually going to be seen and used in the real world was a huge confidence boost and great experience.

When the three-month work placement was up I was offered a position as a Junior Developer. It was the end of a journey and the beginning of a career as a coder. It's been well over a year now since I started and I can honestly say I've come so far thanks largely to the help of all the developers who work here - Viktor especially in the early days and Danijel once in a while (which really means every day!).

I certainly did not take the traditional route to this career, but I hope this blog post serves to highlight that it's never too late to learn something new and that Flipdish is a great place for tech professionals to work.

Come work with the Flipdish team in Dublin, London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona or New York. We’re looking for talented people to help us grow even more. Check out all our open roles on our Careers page

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