#132 Evangelina Ferreira challenges you to take every opportunity
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Eva Ferreira 0:00 When you have an opportunity to teach somebody something you suddently realize this very humble moment where, okay, I don't really understand this. And you actually need to rethink a lot of things and relearn and other things to be able to teach somebody something.
Tim Bourguignon 0:34 Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon and on this episode 132, I receive Evangelina Ferreira. Eva currently works as a UI developer, and has been teaching web technologies at the National Technological University of Argentina for more than eight years. Throughout her career, Eva has been deeply involved in the Argentinian web community. She enjoys giving workshops and talks, and is the organizer of the CSS Conf Argentina conference. Eva, welcome to dev journey.
Eva Ferreira 1:18 And oh, thank you for having me here.
Tim Bourguignon 1:20 Hey, it's my pleasure. The show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as always, let's go back to your beginning, shall we? Where would you place the start of your developer's journey?
Eva Ferreira 1:37 Well, I think I would place it in high school when I was about 14 years old. I didn't know much about what to do after high school. I remember that when I was younger, I wanted to be a veterinarian, you know, a vet. And it was like, eventually I realized, you know what's involved? And he was like, no, it's like being a doctor for cats and dogs. And if I don't like the idea of being a doctor, because I don't like blood, and all that, there's no way I'm going to enjoy being up to cats and dogs. So I dropped that eventually. And then he was like, Okay, I have no clue. So fast forward, and eventually, I began having a blog on the blogspot platform. And it was really depressing, because it was like I was a teenager, I was having a good time at high school. So it wasn't really a fun blog. But I discovered that I could, you know, tweak a little bit the HTML and CSS of that blog, to make it look a little bit different than the others. And I found that really interesting. So I began doing that. And then I thought, Okay, can I do this outside of this platform? Can I actually create my own stuff. So I eventually began researching on my own, I'm creating my first web page with was horrible, it was horrible. He was really bad at the game. It was a very orange looking website with blue links, because I couldn't figure out how to change the color. They should remain blue. And he was to share the booklets of CD albums. So I would ask my friends to lend me their CD, the music CDs, I would like a scan them and put them on their website. So you have the whole alphabet, and you could actually filter through, okay, I want to see American Idiot by Green Day, and you would click on it and find it and find the pictures on the inside. So it was really nice. I'm really proud of that, even though it was horrible. Um, then I suddenly ended up and in an NGO called water this Yorkshire, where they taught me how to how to use technology in a very creative way. I began doing workshops of traditional animation, and then I am free the staff. Some of probiotics, which was which was really fun. And also programming. I used to program high school by you. I used to program really kind of boring stuff for a teenager they used to teach me to do a backhaul. I don't know if you know about that name, but it was a really boring thing. So it wasn't like pushing teenagers into learning how to go there was mostly like teaching teenagers that coding was worrying because he was like, he was this blue screen with yellow letters. And he was like, No way I know what to to be so well irrelevant at all. By going into this NGO, I end up learning that programming could be fun, because I end up learning something like Adobe Flash and I know other. Flash is long gone. But for many of us, it was like this place of creativity, where we could create these kind of animations of these kind of websites using a little bit of gold. And suddenly finding the sweet spot for, at least for me that I really like thrumpton, what he could be creative writing gold. And he blew my mind because I had this very silly idea about programming that it was boring, because that's what they taught me in high school. So getting out of that, and seeing how else we could use that it was very, very interesting. So I began doing more websites, for music bands that I like and all that. And I eventually ended up studying a little bit outside in high school and begin teaching at university and learning a lot in there. And yeah, eventually and up here.
Eva Ferreira 7:06 Yes, yes. Yeah, I remember I was actually creating a survey. So I was creating this website by it was a band called kitty metal band from Canada, that are really loud. So I was creating the website that I wanted to create a survey for people to actually tell me which one of their albums were their February's. So I plug in PHP and MySQL database. I remember somehow I had to do a loop. I didn't remember how so I ended up asking one of the trainees that was working there, hey, how can I solve this? And he ended up explaining to me, hey, you've got to make a loop. Do you know how to make a for loop? And I was like, Oh, my god, yes. I know how to make a for loop. I actually saw that in turbo Pascal. Oh, that's interesting. So this works outside turbo Pascal as well. That means that it's not that bad to learn programming, because I can use it to make something more fun outside of high school.
Tim Bourguignon 8:17 If you could go back and and help the persons who were teaching you turbo Pascal in in high school, what would you tell them? What what what would you do differently? So that is still with turbo Pascal, maybe you could do something interesting, that would be interesting to the teenager that you were.
Tim Bourguignon 9:33 Are you personally a very visual person. Yes, yes, I am. I think that's that's what to commit to to the front end world instead of the backend. Yeah. Doing it. Tell us the story. Well, when when or did you choose that? Was that a path that you selected? Or did it just happen? How did you end up being more on the front end and even in the back end?
Eva Ferreira 9:56 Well, um, when I finished high school, I got to study a two year degree, it wasn't really a degree in itself. It was like a course, where I, I was learning web design. And I realized that I was really bad at designing like it was in my fame. I really love the sign, but I wasn't a designer, and I couldn't fire him figure out the way where I could enjoy working around design without being a designer. So I eventually realized, Oh, this is called front end, and you can actually be very close to the sign into designers and collaborating the creation of websites without having to be a designer. So I think I found that that point in backing after high school with Emacs have been like 2012. Also, at the same time, that was the kind of wonderful moment for CSS back then, because we kind of in 2012, began having these CSS gradients and border radios, and CSS native animations. And, and he was like this amazing, amazing time for CSS. But I ended up like falling in love with it. Like then, with this kind of opportunity of working very closely to the design without being a designer, and having some great tools that I didn't have back in 2008. When I was a teenager at high school.
Tim Bourguignon 12:19 Did you did you stay with CSS? Or did you try to use some superscripts? Less, Sass, etc.
Eva Ferreira 12:25 Eventually, yeah, eventually, I tried to learn some Sass. And it kind of allowed me to do really cool stuff. I remember one side, I did this for loop in SAS, where I could create this animation that went all through the color wheel, like from red to red all around the color wheel. And I remember it was like 10 lines of sass, 1000 lines of CSS. And right now, if you have to rewrite Yeah, it was very silly, because I could do that with a filter in CSS. He wrote a show. But I didn't know that like then. He was some fun to make that he when I eventually realized that I could do that with one line of CSS. He was like, Oh, no, it was fun. He was a really fun thing to do.
Tim Bourguignon 16:14 Do you have a preferred preprocessor?
Eva Ferreira 16:16 I think my favorite one was always sass, but I don't have anything to back it up. He was just I really love the logo. And I really love the website. He wants me to I mean, that's my reasoning.
Tim Bourguignon 16:33 That's fair enough. That's how sometimes too, because it was the first one we're there. And sometimes it's because of logo. But I guess the most important is, if it's working for you, then then that's what it is. Yes, maybe maybe you would have some problems if you were to work on the bigger project. And, and there was a different preprocessor in use for the whole team. But as long as you can pick, then your choices is as good as any any other. You mentioned, react and Vue. What kind of Stack do you work with nowadays?
Eva Ferreira 17:11 Right now I'm working with react. And we got a back-end in NodeJs with Express and a Postgres database. So that's, that's what I'm currently working on.
Tim Bourguignon 17:24 Would that be the ones that you're excited about? And you you you want to research in on your own? You're not not necessarily on your free time, but you're on you're not project time? Or would you drift towards something else?
Eva Ferreira 17:38 I have to say that I really love Express. So I wouldn't change Express for anything I feel really comfortable with, like SQL, so I wouldn't change PostgreSQL. And I really, like react, the only feeling I got about react is that I never worked on a serious and official project with view. And I will look to because the only thing the only times I tried view was when I was trying to do something out, like out of farm, not for a real project. So I wouldn't like to work with views simply because I I never work with it in a very serious way. And I think it can be very powerful. And I think it fixes a lot of things that we are cast, but I need to actually get a perfect to do that to have fun and try it.
Tim Bourguignon 18:33 And then I need to jump in. What do you define as a serious project?
Eva Ferreira 18:39 Ah, that's a good question. Um, I guess the things that I'm being paid for? Like he failed me. Is it a series one? On the other hand, I mean, I really had bigger project that I did for fun, so yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 18:57 that's exactly what I had in mind. Um, nowadays, I could say sometimes my personal projects are bigger than my professional projects. My answer to that would be, I guess, in terms of complexity. If we're many people or more than than one person on one project, then it starts being being serious. That's a good compromise with somebody else. Yeah. And if I have to really build it for a tool and build it to last, and instead of always being able to start from scratch, or or do some kind of tabula rasa, that would be assigned for me that it's you use as well. Yeah. And you said you wouldn't change Express for for anything. What do you like so much about Express?
Eva Ferreira 19:52 I think it's easy to learn for somebody who doesn't do too much backend and came from the world of PHP. I think Express actually was easy for me to learn. And that was a good thing. And I think he really has a good recommendation is very thorough. It's very complete. And I think that that's why I mean, I eventually tried different one, I don't even remember the name of the different one. It wasn't like the others, even me doesn't have a good logo. And then like it anyway, that seems. Oh, that's, that's nothing nice. Like,
Tim Bourguignon 20:36 I guess I have to add a logo to the to the show notes. But then in your bio, you mentioned community. When did you start getting involved with communities? And how did you start with it? And how did that evolve?
Eva Ferreira 20:55 Well, when I finished high school, I began like this two years ago or so web design. And in that Meantime, in those two years, then CEO contacted me and asked me if I wanted to help a university with a couple of students. So they have courses that they're that universities, the National Technological University of Argentina is a very important one. And they were looking for people to help students have HTML, CSS, PHP courses. And they knew I did that. So they invited me to actually begin working in that, and university. So I say yes. And I realized that I really enjoy working there and I that that I learned so much. Because when you have an opportunity to teach somebody something you summon, realize this very humble moment where, okay, I don't really understand this. And you actually need to rethink and other things and relearn and other things to be able to teach somebody something. Eventually, I ended up being a teacher, the professor, because one of the professors left. My boss back then was like, Okay, I feel like you're like this. Do you want to become a teacher? Do you want to give it a shot? So I eventually are 20 years old, I became a teacher. At the National University of Technology in Argentina, it was very scary. And honestly didn't went really well the first time because I was learning that well, eventually, I got better.
Tim Bourguignon 22:30 Are you are teaching a 20, students of 18 and 19?
Eva Ferreira 22:35 For students mostly off 25-35 years old? Yeah. It was, it was a really good experience. I'm most most of the people line 99% of the people were really nice, are very welcoming to me. There were a bunch who weren't, but it always happens. So I kept on working in there. And I eventually realized there were such a thing called conferences are were happening all around the world, except in, in Latin America, because we are always a little bit behind on those things. And that they actually had this thing called call for proposals, and that you could send a talk idea, and if they like it, they actually invite you over there to give a talk. So I was like, Okay, I could do this, because I like teaching and you know, three hours classes. So it's pretty much the same. I saw there was this conference happening in us, he was the CSS cones back in 2014. So I agreed in my talk, Id on sending over to the call for proposals, and they rejected it, because, you know, it happens, but I really wanted to go. So it was like, Okay, how much money do I have from from my house high school years and from my savings? Okay, I put it all together in a trip to us. And I say, Okay, I'm going to this conference, even though I'm not speaking and I'm having that experience. So I jumped on the plane 21 years old. Alone, my first ever trip alone to to a foreign land. And he was, again, very, very, very scary. But he was, I think, one of the better choices that I've made in my life. Because once I got there, there was this drug be on a conference. It was a conference organized by Nicole Sullivan, who is like, I love her so much, and I appreciate everything she has ever done. And the opportunity that she gave me there because there was this rugby event where you could actually go there on the day and give a talk. So I had that talk that he wanted to do prepare because I wanted to give it in the track B. Nicole came to me like on the same conference day at the at the entrance of the conference. And she knew my name and she was like, "Oh, you're you're a Eva from Argentina. I know you, you came here and you actually have a talk to do a trick B". And she was like "there's a slot, on the track A, the main stage. Do you want to give the talk there?" And I was like, "oh, okay, I am". So it's one of those things when the opportunity goes in front of you, you have to get it. You know, it's like, okay, yeah, yeah, I will do it. Even went well, because I was so nervous. I think I, I totally forgot how to speak English back then. When you like it, and honestly, people were so nice to me. You know, even though my talk wasn't at all the best one, it wasn't like really good. It still be people were so kind to me. And they were so, so thankful that I came to that stage and tried to explain something, you know, that I really, really enjoyed that experience on, I think back then it was one of those change life changing moments. That's what I'm very, very thankful for, for me been so liban to actually, you know, asking me if I wanted to jump into that stage. Eventually, I came back. I said, Okay, I want to do this again. So I, I began, I insisted on sending thoughts to go for proposals, I kept on having 1000s of rejections, my friend, scientists and people began, you know, liking my toxic ideas, and inviting me over to get conference talks. And I end up like, doing conference talks, from time to time. And I really liked that. And I knew that I was extremely privileged to be able to do that. Because even though I was from a Latin America country, is still I had the money back then to actually travel to us and be able to have that one shot of doing a talk at a CSS code for us. And eventually, I had this, this very bad feeling of Hey, wait, why don't we have conferences here? You know, why? Why am? Am I always traveling to Europe, Australia, us or not to Pharaoh or Colombia or not? Why don't I speak in Argentina. And it was this very sad moment where I realized there was no, no local events within a hub them. So it was like a quickie, I could either keep on complaining and waiting. Or I can do something about that. I, you know, team up with a couple of friends and a couple of other other front end developers that really love CSS. And he was like, okay, we're making this happen. We are great in CSS conference in Argentina. And we then we did two editions of that conference. And I think is also one of the proudest moments of my life, creating a conference that hopefully as diverse as possible, we can always do better, of course, and trying to, you know, take care of the people be able to great in a space where they can enjoy what I enjoy and creating also, opportunity, we'll see because he was also trying to open up for a people from Latin America to be able to have these first speaking experience. I didn't want to create a conference in Argentina and have only people speaking for us and euro because it was like, why would I do that I had so much talent in that in America, we need to show it. So when we began talking about Okay, what kind of speakers we weren't. We were thinking diversity in a way. We want people that attend our conference to be able to see themselves. So we wanted to have 50/50 of at least 50% of the speaker were Latinos. So we worked really hard with that. Our ideas was to actually try to make people understand that they could do that, too, you know, that they didn't need to be from us or for Europe to actually speak at conferences and that they didn't need to get on a plane to us to actually attend the conference. So we were really hard with that. We have a lot of things that that didn't work out. We have a lot of trouble with inflation's on and a lot of Argentinian and latinoamerica things that this is also like really, really nice to talk sometimes to people from Latin America about Okay, how to create a conference with so much economic troubles. Because this is it's not really easy at all, and all the hassles and how, how do we actually have live translation? Because if we don't have light translation that Why are you making an event because people don't really speak much English in here. So if you actually make an event with English speaking people speaking, and you don't have like translation that then you actually throw in the diversity of the boat, because you need to actually people that pay for the ticket, you need to make them on a standard talks. And also ticket prices, it was very, very hard because in there's always an economic crisis in Latin America, whenever in no matter which country you go to. There's always economic crisis. So it's like, okay, I kind of charge $200 tickets, there's no way no one is coming. Or worse. The people that always go to conference when they come in are not new people. So we were really hard to have like $30 tickets, and to have a lot of scholarships, and a lot of students this sounds for the second edition where we did are really proud of fifth, we actually released the numbers to the public because of the release a non profit conference. So you can actually find it, I can provide the link later we created it. Yeah, page for CSS confession, Tina, where we actually tell people how we actually use the money and how we got it, or how we actually like, what the we do, okay, we paid for plane tickets, hotel nights, translation, and this and that, and this and that, and the total amount is this month. Just to make people understand where that money goes to, because I think that's really important in in nonprofit conferences, you're buying a ticket, and you're putting your money in there, you you know, you want it to go to the right places, you know, I wouldn't be proud of myself, if I charge in Argentina in one side is $2,200 tickets, something you go to the events on, I spend that money on lights, christmas treats, you know, I didn't want to grade that I was really conscious of not wanting to create that. Like, if I don't have the best coffee at my event, then it's okay, because I believe people will be able to come and they will be able to understand the talks because I provide light translation, because I provide cheap tickets. And you can make good conferences on low budgets is hard. But you can do it. So yeah, I'll stop speaking now.
Tim Bourguignon 32:44 No, no problem. I just said the last edition was in 2018. Yes. Did you did you imagine doing something something remoteliy now that we are all still at home? Due to the to the pandemic going remote and and leveraging the the virtual space to to promote this diversity and and and reachability even more?
Eva Ferreira 33:12 Well, I with all the artists in the world, I had a really hard year. So it was like I was focusing on getting through 2020. I wish I would have been able to actually think about that. But no, I just couldn't. But it actually sounds like a plan sounds like something we can do. Especially because 2021 might not be as likely like 2019 yet, you know, I don't know how fast we are getting out the full list.
Tim Bourguignon 33:44 When I think about online conferences. I always have a love hate relationship with it. First of all, because there is not the the hallway track and the ability to really talk to people. But in your special case, where you have some kind of language barrier that would make sense with the the conferences happening in the US, I mean, virtually in the US or in Europe are then not necessarily a good fit for your audience because they will be in in English or in any other language. And if you're one of your requirements is to have it in the local language of the attendees, then that's a niche market that he that you have. And that's something that would be very interesting, I guess for the community. It'd be something to ponder.
Eva Ferreira 34:36 Yes, definitely.
Tim Bourguignon 34:39 I so you are a Google level expert. Is that correct? Yes, I am. Tell us that story.
Eva Ferreira 34:46 Okay. I think a couple of years ago, I think it was 2018 somebody ping me on Twitter. He told me that there was this program called developer experts. That if I wanted to join, and that it was a program to actually help speakers from conferences to actually give talks, so they could provide kind of the expenses, if you had to travel to some sort of world to give a talk on the conference could uncover it. So you could go over with this global expert team and ask them to cover that flight for you. So you could, you could go there, give the talks. So high, say yeah, I'm interested, I went through, I think, two interviews. One is more like a community interview where you, you tell them what you do for the community. And I think the other kind of interview was more technical, just to know that you have an idea of what you're speaking about. And eventually, you are in, and he was very nice. Um, I'm still there. Um, it's a really nice bunch of people. And well, the car has been a little bit weird for Google Developer experts, because we weren't really able to travel. But usually, you actually see each other from time to time in different events around the world.
Tim Bourguignon 36:22 That sounds like like a big family. Are you still teaching?
Eva Ferreira 36:29 Yes, we are actually finishing our last course of the year. Today, today, I'm getting my students works to actually write them and know if they're pass. So yeah, today's the last day of the course. Okay, so pressure is building.
Tim Bourguignon 36:54 How much of your content Do you refresh every year or every semester? And how up to date? Do you do you want to be with all your content?
Tim Bourguignon 38:48 Yeah, you always have to trade between between the fundamentals, and the things that make you employable when you exactly Yes. And balanced this Yeah, absolutely. I remember that. When I when I came out of my, my master's degree, I was kind of competing with apprentices. On the coding front, I had so much in theory, but in practice, so little, and so I was really competing with people who just came out of apprenticeship and had coded for two years. And so this trade off is always hard to, to balance, I guess. But what you were saying with the iteration is very interesting.
Eva Ferreira 39:25 That's, that's, that's also a balance that you have to find because the the web world is evolving so fast, but you have to find the sweet spot between still teaching something that is relevant, but not too fast that as you said, you can iterate on it and learn from your mistakes or maybe mistaken that was too harsh of a word, but things that didn't go so good and could be better.
Tim Bourguignon 39:51 And that's very wise. Very interesting. I have to think about this. Too establish would be turbo Pascal nowadays, right? But I'm pretty sure you could do interesting things which again. But anyhow, still keeping all focus on the students, or maybe the people who are just coming in into our industry? Will you have any advice for them? To to kickstart their careers on the right track?
Eva Ferreira 40:28 I think first advice is never be afraid of asking. I think that's something that, at least what might be better for my students about asking questions was that I was not afraid of asking questions at the beginning. Then when I began kind of a semi senior developer, I began to be afraid of asking questions, because I thought that would make me look bad. And then I realized, luckily, that that was a stupid. And then I began asking questions again. And I noticed that, that pattern with another developer and friend of mine, that when they are about to reach a certain level of seniorship, they suddenly begin to, to be afraid of asking questions, just in case it makes them look bad. The silo quote, in this, you know, and so Never be afraid of asking questions. That's the right thing to do. Especially if you're stuck with with something, you need to actually ask for help. And it's okay. Because that's the idea. That's the way that you can learn something new. I would say that if you have an opportunity in front of you, and you're afraid of taking it, take it anyway. I keep on going back to that, that us trip that I did on how afraid I was about everything, getting into a plane, traveling alone, and getting to to meet new people as an introvert in a conference, and I never been there. And just getting into the stage, giving my first talk, I think, don't be Don't be afraid. I mean, don't say no, because you're afraid Just say yes. have the best time possible. And if it doesn't go the way you want it well, at least you tried. But it won't be you won't be regretting of not doing that. You know, you won't be thinking about that opportunity for years to come about what will happen if I had say yes, now just a year from see what happens. Do your bias and be kind to yourself, you know, if it doesn't go the way you wanted, then don't be hard on yourself is that it doesn't have to go right all the time. You're not perfect. We are human beings.
Tim Bourguignon 42:53 That that is
very wise: Don't be afraid of asking question, grab the opportunities that present in front of you, and be kind to yourself. Thank you very much. That is a very nice advice. A nice word. Thank you.
Eva Ferreira 43:05 Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 43:07 Oh, it's my pleasure. Where can we send the listeners if they wanted to have some more advice from you?
Eva Ferreira 43:12 Oh, I would say my Twitter account that from time to time, I not only post pictures of my kittens, but also kind of things.
Tim Bourguignon 43:24 Okay, so that's @evaferreira92, I will, I will add a link to the show notes. Thank you again for your time. Thanks for sharing your story. And this has been another episode of developer's journey. And we'll see each other next week. Bye. I hope you have enjoyed our story as much as I did, and that you've been moved by Eva's energy and optimism. Tell me what inspired you on Twitter. I am at @timothep or use the comments section on our website. You will find it at the bottom of the page on any episode page. Also, do a friend a favor and share this episode with him. And do us a favor by leaving a review on Apple podcast or any other platform you might be using. You will find all the links on our website, devjourney.info/subscribe. And remember, a journey starts with one step. So let me leave you with this one question. What will be yours?