Software Developers Journey Podcast

#198 Laura González slowly YOLOed her way to success


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Laura Gonzalez 0:00
I think that's what you get if you use yellow your way through themes to get to where you want to go slower. You hit bumps on the way, you come up with cool anecdotes. But if you have an intentional goal about I don't know, I want to go to a foreign company. There are so many better ways to do that, than to actually test Yeah, fumble your way and scale jobs slowly like I did.

Tim Bourguignon 0:20
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. I'm your host, Tim Wagner, own this episode 198, I received louder. Gonzales is a UI engineer at meta, formerly Facebook, where she mostly works on React, and on preventing our cat from stepping on the keyboard. That is important. Well that she has been at The Guardian and pinky fingers told me that she broke the guardian.com website once, I really hope we're kind of hearing the story. And she was at the next web as well. And even before that, she was putting her own website about the Sims in PHP, JavaScript, and oh, God, Flash woke up this morning.

Laura Gonzalez 1:10
Hello, how's it going tonight,

Tim Bourguignon 1:13
is doing pretty well. It's late, but it's awesome to have you on. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the Dev 20 lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew, and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guests. So, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like. And imagine how to shape your own future. So as always, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place to start off your debt journey. So

Laura Gonzalez 2:08
there's actually two separate events and I do not remember which one came first. So there is the bit where my mom got as a family computer. And you must understand very weird tend to rebel to reverse how things go and in my family, but my mom was the nerdy one. And my dad just didn't care for this technology stuff. He actually he's super fond of his iPad now. But that came way after the Family Computer, which was in the in 95 or something. Okay. So there's that event. And then there's I remember getting a Super Nintendo from my neighbor. And that really got me into video games. And this interests kind of aligned because I had my own Samus fan site. But even before that, when he started going on the internet, thank God, we didn't have filters back then. So I could just go anywhere on the web. I just landed into the, into the wackiest websites that look cool. And by this, I mean stuff like macromedia.com, which at the time was really cool and had a flash showcase. And also tying together with video games at the time, if you went to nintendo.com in the 90s. In the 90s. Whenever they had a new game, they had a website that was more elaborate than the game itself just for promoting the game. It's had like little flash components, and on and on just a bunch of stuff. I'm not entirely sure what triggered this in me, I think it was also my mom getting us a copy of front page. But at some point, I was like, wow, websites look cool. I want to make my own website. I want to pin this all on my on my mother. It's her fault. It's entirely her fault. And I'm so sorry, on behalf of not really. She was still so many ways she's alive. She's just retired, I just realized how this sounds. Both parents alive. That's good. But my mom was actually retired recently. And she was always trying to bring interactivity into the classroom. So even before I wanted to make my own websites, or I wanted to play with things, she was always toying around with all of these educational CD ROMs that came at the time, maybe even floppy disks to kind of make educational courses and metal modules. And if this was web based, and for a while she became a Java developer because there was a very good to call out there, I want to say, or half baked potatoes, or maybe they were both. I think it was like an extension. Basically, she made Java apps to teach phonetics, which I think is incredibly impressive, despite the fact that I clearly haven't learned my phonetics, but I'm sure some people did. Her students probably did.

Tim Bourguignon 4:47
And she programmed stuff for students like this.

Laura Gonzalez 4:49
So kind of Yeah, because part of this was official and he talked about I don't remember a lot as a kid but I would say it was the visual editor in the same way that we were Flash or front page or visual editors, like, at some point you have to bail out into the code. And the way she described it to me is that she would just copy paste things and delete words, which to be entirely honest, 20 years later is also what I do for a living.

Tim Bourguignon 5:16
I'm nodding my head.

Laura Gonzalez 5:21
So that kind of triggered that bugging me. And it kind of followed after her first footsteps. And yeah, I remember and I actually looked this up recently, I remember my first my first website was like a very silly personal page about me, because that's all I mean, I was 12, I have nothing more interesting to talk about. And I thought I was interested in myself to talk about my hobbies, and whatnot. And that was with a front page template themed around cars, because it had like this beautiful chrome buttons and textures, and things that later on, I learned how to do myself, because I was also a designer in the middle of this. But at the time, it looked really impressive. It was a bit garish, how

Tim Bourguignon 6:01
design was back then I remember doing the balls to make some curved buttons and etc. and spending time in time on on the totally legit version of Photoshop that I had just make it somewhat fun and that it was 90, I must say, when do you man 8596? Something like this as well. So I totally really did you right away, decide, okay, designing web pages is gonna be my life, or was there something in between?

Laura Gonzalez 6:29
I think my life was always kind of unclear. I was good at studying. And at the time, because once again, we're thinking about 1996 1998, my parents didn't fully believe that you could make a living making websites, because that sounded like a wacky idea. Still kind of still kind of sounds like a walkie idea. But this is where we are today. So let's just enjoy it. You proved it. And so mu, I didn't, you know, I wanted to do something computery. So my original plan was to go through education. I don't know that proper English terms, but basically go to school until I was 17. And into uni to study communications engineering or something, whatever it was that people studied in Spain to do computer stuff. This isn't gonna ties together when I grew up, this idea kept existed in my mind, because I can internalize the whole idea that front end development is not real development. So so it's kind of like, yeah, I still need to know like, computer events like C++ and like timesteps face complexity, and all those very serious computer science things. But I still don't know.

Tim Bourguignon 7:40
front end development is not development that what you say, when did you teach the sentence? Or did you

Laura Gonzalez 7:46
nowadays to be much more established in my career? I'm more saying, and this means that my most of my development job is attending meetings and same thing, some meetings, so I'm not entirely sure I see it anymore. I will say I do think and I come from an interesting background, as I guess were masked, I do think it's real development. I think in many ways, it's harder. But I do think it's different from hardcore back end development, like it touches completely different disciplines. And at the same time, it doesn't like, you still have to care about code complexity and clean code. And, you know, a lot of shared dependencies. So they say, but as a front end developer, for example, you also have to care about the slightest bit of user experience, you have to care a lot more about real time users interacting with the app in real time. So like handling, you have to care about real time use dealing with the app in real time. So handling inputs, for example. And in other ways, this is actually closer to game development, I would say,

Tim Bourguignon 8:45
What did you choose as studies? Did you go do some computer science stuff, I

Laura Gonzalez 8:49
was still down to finish basic education. So for context, and the way education works in Spain is you have six years as a child, and then when you're, let's say, 11, you switch to four mandatory years of secondary education. And then there's two more years of like University Prep, which is optional. When I was in my fourth year of secondary education failed, I think it was for four to six subjects. One cool loophole that you get is that there is a if you fail subjects, you get one final exam that you fill up with everything you've learned through the year. And if you pass that your code is like if you pass the normal, continuous evaluation through the year. Anyway, that's how I passed my final year of mandatory education on the first year of this University Prep thing. I just kind of also failed sakes and I just couldn't be bothered. Things were kind of slanted against me in a minor way because it was considered by my high school counselor to be gifted. And every single teacher would just rank me harder because of that because they thought I just couldn't be bothered to the same system because I literally feel that there is x Really, this has nothing to do with code. But there is actually a very distinct memory here where the first ever exam I had in this final in this first University Prep year, it was math, one of the questions, which was worth two points. Oh, yeah, for our American listeners, exams in Europe go from zero to 10. Because we use the metric system for literally everything. As you can imagine, on that two points, question about I remember this very clearly, it was, you have eight people sitting at the table, as I've talked about, in how many configurations can they sit. And I argued in my response, that if person A is sitting on the top side of the table is different than if Person B is sitting on the bottom side table, basically means like, if people rotate on the table, it's not the same table. Fair enough. That was not the expected response. And I got a zero in that question. And that most regret from six to four, which is a fail. As a follow up, I made a four page, four page listings. I mean, it wasn't a tongue in cheek thing, but it was a bit like, honestly, first of all, what the facts are gonna fall. Here's why the fans have a four page thesis on why octagons are allowed to rotate. That's actually the opposite of what I was arguing. I was arguing that if octagons rotate is a different octagon anyway, just see where I'm going with this. Four page paper itself is the important part. Here. Did you take it?

Tim Bourguignon 11:35
Did you keep it? Or did you still have it framed somewhere in a wall?

Laura Gonzalez 11:40
Alas, no, it's been lost.

Tim Bourguignon 11:45
Okay, so was not so easy. And you couldn't start the studies you had envisioned. But how did you land on your feet?

Laura Gonzalez 11:52
Yeah. So honestly, when it comes to the studies at that point, I was more bullish on Yeah, I couldn't make a career out of doing computer things. And the biggest concern on my parents side was that I would not be able to get hired for a job, which is actually a very reasonable concern. But what's going on when I was in higher status. By that time, my seems fansite had actually grown a therapy. He was raking and impressive. And still impressive, by the way, 1000 visitors per day,

Tim Bourguignon 12:22
which is wow,

Laura Gonzalez 12:24
you know what? That's actually a lot of visitors. Yeah, let's not under underscore that. It was I was doing great. I even got an offer to do sponsored content. And I sold my journalistic integrity for 300 euros. I am not proud of this. But you know what, at the time, that was literally the first money I ever made off the internet, and it felt great.

Tim Bourguignon 12:43
Were you still a teenager or just out of high school?

Laura Gonzalez 12:45
Yeah. 17 or something? So I was still studying and it was like, yeah.

Laura Gonzalez 12:54
300 euros, with no taxes. That's still something. But yeah, basically, this website grew and I met fellow fansite makers in other areas. And I actually partnered partner, partner with one of them to start kind of a web design, development consulting consultancy firm. This is more ambitious than it sounds like basically, we made website what motivated

Tim Bourguignon 13:23
you to start a business instead of studying something or going to a company really starting your business with

Laura Gonzalez 13:31
the timing this whole tumbled like the tunnel, it's like integrity, integrity, pain. huband a bit before that. But basically, I was quite young in the in the seems fansite space, I was still probably, honestly, yeah. 17. And one of the people the person we partnered with was quite older at the time. And my older I mean, 21 You know, so old,

Tim Bourguignon 13:56

Laura Gonzalez 13:58
But basically, we kind of hit the perfect spot. We worked well together. He had connection we worked a lot with this was actually very rewarding, rewarding, rewarding work because we work a lot with nonprofits. So we had the nonprofit we had the t shirt guy, it was a mole that was probably near like it was per project but on average, it was like 1000 euros a month like we could see this grown into it was a bit of a side project. I will still combine this with my studies and basically had zero free time but I strongly advocate against grant now but then again, I am I am in my office at 9pm. So when I say no when I do, yes sadly. So I was combining this with my study it felt like a very fun for the most part. We also did the side this is how I picked up most of my the same skills because we're actually doing this for professionals dropped out of high school. I was still doing this on the side. What happened then is that Spain has this concept. I think it's called trade school in the US. Basically it's not out unique career, but it's kind of smaller studies program that you do straight in into your high school. And it's for less University each job. So this is where you learn hairdressing or car repairs, trade in general. And they actually had a path for computers, which I know sounded like something cool to do while I figure out my life. And honestly, that was kind of that was kind of an exciting two years because I met some friends locally that were also into computers, I got to open up a bunch of computers, use the airflow and thingy close them up again, I'm not actually matter for hardware hacker, like, of course, when he had the home computer, I opened it up to see what was going on. I also opened up with my own expert voided the warranty, so I had to get them out. When it broke. When it comes to actual computers, I switched to an iMac, Elena in 2007, or something when they started being ugly, I kind of use MAC's same, so I guess I could open them. But I don't think I'm gonna like what I find inside. It was a very fun trade school. And like in the same day, you would have an hour of learning deep Linux shell commands, and then learning how to ride hailing a word it was. It was absolutely incredible. I have in Saxa, in succeeding jobs done data analysis that they've been able to do because of what they learned to do with XML there. And yeah, and we were writing Java, which is kind of like PHP, but the arrays are weird. That was my first impression of Java. I'm not gonna lie. This is still how I will describe it to people, especially now that I'm working with PHP again, but it's also not exactly php.

Tim Bourguignon 16:39
Are you using different version of oil homemade version of your free meter? Yes.

Laura Gonzalez 16:45
So it's called Hack. And it is very much PHP like that. We call it PHP internally. But since PHP, seven, I think the languages have diverged. So hacks used to be a superset of PHP, mostly to add type ins to it. It's a bit like TypeScript for PHP. However, now that PHP also has types in PHP, seven, our types and their types do not match. So they have they varied in that way.

Tim Bourguignon 17:11
What led you to to The Guardian, I really want to hear the story. So let's go slowly in this direction,

Laura Gonzalez 17:17
had my own component with a friend I was just finishing up my was in my second year of trade school. Now, I was gonna know I didn't finish. So trade school is divided into basic course and an advanced course. And they're both two years. And suddenly one of our customers for the web company and consultancy was like, Hey, Laura, I got a cool startup going on. Would you like to join it? I was 19. And I was like, Yeah, sure. Let's see where this takes me. So I got, I got plane tickets to Barcelona on the day. And I just got to show up at the airport, I had to pay my own taxi from the airport, which in hindsight, was not a good sign. When there went to the office, there was no interview, so to say, because I had worked with them in the past, but I actually made a deck for them pretty well, I was there because might as well, but yeah, I was there for they felt good vibes. I wanted to work for a startup moving out to Barcelona, I felt cool. So I can drop my studies and tests. And I lived in, I lived in a fucking rat hole for two months after that. So this is where the iPhone had exactly one screen size, you could just the same exact pixels. And you could do you could basically go wild with Photoshop. And the trend of the day was to add more layer styles and the competing app. And I think I mean, at the time, I didn't know what I was doing. I was not a good designer, it was a bit more of a good artist, if that makes sense. So it was more of a like I enjoyed the hell out of doing the visual direction. But nowadays, I understand that this time is more well, the sign has kind of become more of a process of doing the your UX homework, finding out what the users need. And coming up with a solution at the final step, which is probably going to be very boring because it has been processed to there. Honestly, it's rewarding. I have in fact, interned as a designer here at madhhab. But, but it's a whole different. It's a whole different job than test messing around with Photoshop until something looks pretty and then figuring out how to export that. So it works in life.

Tim Bourguignon 19:19
Okay, so So how did you go from this designer job to the software job you're doing today? What was the past there?

Laura Gonzalez 19:27
We were doing a very, we're doing a social media app that was like Instagram, which is also one of my company's products, but at the time it wasn't and we're basically copying Instagram because that's what startups to Instagram for the most part is copy whatever the valley in a bit later. At some point we we had acquired some users and we wanted a web version and I was that we only had mobile engineers for the most part, so I cannot prove that and I ended up becoming like I still did some design on the side but I was very much The web person because we had a ton to be able to there, we started running out of money. And we opened our off as a co working space. And one of the people we got in our co working space was of I think they are a tech lead now at a different company. They were a software engineer at the next wave. That was only good luck. But yeah, we kind of we worked in the same space for a while they kept joking that they should hire me. Honestly, one day I started, the company clearly had no money they had started paying us in envelopes with euros, and then we're just never a good sign. I mean, it's either a great sign or a very bad sign. And I chose the toolkit as our very bad time. Also it kind of Yeah, it kind of freaked me out to carry. I think it was to 2000 euros at that point, to carry that on my backpack every month. Oh, yeah. By the way, most prayers to 1000 euros before taxes, which I mean, I didn't have to pay on the envelopes, but I had to pay before it wasn't good folks. That's kind of Italy drove my move to London. But we can go into that later. But yeah, when I was there, that was actually my biggest introduction to the I guess the European tech community at large. And something I loved about the next web is that every year they do this event called it's a very good name, you will not believe this is the next web conference. Wow, couldn't figure it Oh. Yeah, all employees are invited to come. I don't actually know how the work culture is there anymore. Because I know they have been acquired by the Financial Times, which kind of puts them close that closer to my heart. But at the time, it was actually a very cool also startup revive. They had this room in Amsterdam. I was there for a month. They had hammocks and movie nights and all you can drink beer. And yeah, basically all the cliches of startup life. And it was a really great group of talented people. The conference is actually they call it a conference. But it's actually I want to say, for the time it was, it was definitely the coolest tech conference. It was ran like a festival. They got this massive outdoor space in the gas holders. They got foot tracks, they got an observation, our music at the end of the night. It was, I don't know, I felt one with the tech community right there. Because up until that point, I wasn't super connected to the tech community. That was my first exposure to it. And it was like, wow, this is actually cool. Sounds Yeah, at this point in my career, at this point in my career, I had dropped out of my studies altogether, I just decided to just roll with this. And the only thing living rent free in the back of my head is that I have kind of turned chained jobs through referrals but I have never actually entered properly interviewed for a job. When I this is very embarrassing. But when I interviewed for the next one, what happened there? First of all, I didn't know I have any interview. Second of all, I didn't know the owner of the company and his business partner had flown from Amsterdam to Barcelona to interview me personally, the day before that I suggested to my friend to make with brownies. The night before my interview was actually the first time I ever got high and and I decided I made that strategic decision to just outright tell you tell them because otherwise they would have found out because so I told them I was high. They liked me enough. When I finally joined the company and I went to Amsterdam to visit them my welcome pack. Because this was Amsterdam, but also probably because of my experience of my interview experience. It had a giant on it. That was so nice.

Tim Bourguignon 23:42
They remembered

Laura Gonzalez 23:47
drugs than any other welcome pack on any other company.

Tim Bourguignon 23:52
Stay with us.

Tim Bourguignon 23:53
We'll be right back. Hello imposters. If you work in tech want to work in tech or are tech curious in any way you'll want to listen to this. We've launched a community of professionals who come together to share information and advice about jobs, roles, careers and the journeys we all take throughout our lives as the designers, builders, fixers investigators, explainers and protectors of the world's technology. We call it the impostor syndrome network. And all are welcome. So find the impostor syndrome network podcast wherever you listen to find podcasts and look for the isn community on your favorite social platform. Hashtag imposter network.

Tim Bourguignon 24:37
That's not usually something we do.

Tim Bourguignon 24:44
And you had a good time there you stayed. How long? Two years,

Laura Gonzalez 24:46
three years? Yeah, this was like three years or something I eventually basically it's smaller news. org and I was looking for a team that was nine days between Asti limited I went to Amsterdam for a month to meet them but then we'll see After Barcelona, I was trying to find where to live in Amsterdam. But it's kind of hard because Amsterdam is expensive. And they, I'm sure salaries are better now. But basically, I wasn't ready to commit to moving there in tears. I think it was 38k or something. It's a very good amount of money. Don't get me wrong, especially for Europe. But Amsterdam rent prices are crazy. So eventually, since I was working from home from Barcelona, I decided to move back to my parents. Horrible idea. This went on for like, I don't know, three years or something, I eventually got really bored. On a whim of whim, I actually made a very horrible mistake. And I decided to return in the startup life because one of my friends from these older from the old original startup, had since then made a ton of money and was starting his own company, which, of course, is a copy of demo. I remember I distinctly remember being at the micro kitten at the office. And it wasn't, I was just cheerfully entering my scenario. I was completely oblivious to the world I was having the time of my life. And certainly he comes from a home that no like, Laura, we should do stories for payments. And they had to stop and tell him a serial predator to entertain that idea. I still don't know exactly how the fact stories for payments would work. But he was very convinced that he could pull this up. Anyway, I got fired. He got fired a month later, everybody got fired disaster of a company. No need to mention it. But But yeah, what happened at that time is that I moved to Barcelona, but I wasn't really enjoying Barcelona. And at the time, I had made a couple of friends in London, and an opening in their flat just appeared they lost a roommate. And I figured, hey, I'm gonna negotiate working from home with these payments people. That sounds about right, and then I'm going to work from London and at least I get to enjoy a fresh change of scenery and live in a whole cool new town that didn't exactly go as I thought it would they were they were very disappointed and very performance which honestly, it's totally reasonable because I was fucking depressed and a for the life of me could not get passionate about payments. It was test not in my like everything we were doing Venmo was doing better. Our app was slightly marginally prettier, but I was gonna say that people don't look at payments and think pretty apps. But then again, we have months I'm in the UK and that seems to be going well. So anyway. fintech. Yeah, Fintech is not for me, I decided. So flotilla the day before that they told me um, they were letting me go instead of letting me work remotely, which is like, honestly, I was like, Yeah, well, well. I'll find something. And yeah, then I went to the beach, actually, for the weekend, told my parents about the firing and did tell them about going to London. They were maybe freaking out a bit, but not a lot. Yeah, that's kind of how I ended up in London, which is, I want to put you in situation. Okay, it was entirely fed up. This whole FinTech experience with this Taurus for payment. It was not good. And it kind of fed me up on tech in general. And at the time, I was doing some soul searching and I want to explore a game development. I wanted to explore it. Yeah, what else is there for me in the world? What can I do? That's a bit more creative, maybe than just being a code monkey. But the beta code monkey is bad. That's what they do now. Yeah, how can I grow as a person and what else can I do? That's not technology? That's what I did. That's how I decided to move to London. And after he moved to LA now he actually moved in with four Viet No, it was three at the time three theater kids and I cannot God the exploring everything else in life part of my life very quickly, one of them was doing was doing plays, and other one was doing stand up comedy, and I think she's actually doing quite well for herself. Which is, honestly it's good because she was actually good. The only problem is that she would go on open mic nights at pubs, and everybody else was not good. That was it was absolutely terrible. She was great. She actually raised the bar whenever she was there. But here it was a month and I kind of needed a job so I did what I did but I guess I remember that any reasonable person would do and I actually went ahead and opened LinkedIn and I took my messages with as you might know already, I don't know a lot

Tim Bourguignon 29:39
who does that

Laura Gonzalez 29:45
so precedent, number of offers in the browser, which which is where the betting companies are. Always Yeah. I will want to encourage any anybody to work for betting companies, but I think you A year long stint in Gibraltar actually sounds like a fantastic story to tell. So I would recommend doing that with your life if you get that kind of offer. I didn't do it but I found a couple in London and I had this recruiter and I think his name was Luis. And I outright told him, yeah, okay. I am reasonably good at Tech. I can make websites that's no problem. What can you get me that's not in the field of tech. And he offered me a wide array of UK newspapers. Now, I don't know if you're familiar with UK media, but the newspapers he offered were like The Daily Mail the mirror kinda like the right wing tabloids, which are actually if you're a go to the UK, I encourage you to check this in the supermarket because they are the they're the right wing mirrors left wing. They're very tough lady. They're very bad. And they always come up with the greatest pans on their homepage. My favorite one in a couple of weeks ago, we had a big storm in Atlanta to blew up the entire the entire the OTB and the Millennium Dome. And the Daily Mirror just opened with we are domed. Honestly

Tim Bourguignon 31:18
it's a punch championship I see. Okay.

Laura Gonzalez 31:23
It's probably still broken at another point. They're playing this Yeah, I got offers for basically every newspaper except the Guardian, which I actually knew about because it's kind of I don't know, it's known. I think people know the Guardian, probably. So they actually tried to call the Guardian out of curiosity to see if that would work if I could get away with that. And what happened next is that I actually I interviewed for the telegraph. And I didn't pass their choline screen, which I still don't understand how that happened. Because I am very fast at coding, like, this is not the humble practices, test stuff like I am unreasonably fast at coding, I type quickly, I think quickly, and I can crack through coding problems quickly. I'm not saying that I didn't write. But in the case of the telegraph, it's literally that the whole the whole editor was timed. And it just kicked me out at 10 minutes. And I barely had time to read the question. So I don't know what happened there. Yeah, I wasn't eligible for the telegraph. I didn't apply for the mail. I didn't apply for the mirror and I got an offer. And that was actually very tense. Because as I got that off, I got a call from The Guardian saying that they were interested to interview me. And so next thing I know, I tell them, you were to please hold off on the offer for a couple days. They tell me I need to take it or leave it. I continue to Yolo my way through this because I figured I had a couple like there's also UK startups, there's, you know, there's jobs in London for people who can code websites. That's another big deal. And I mean, at the time I was I had European salary expectations. So basically, anything above above 45k was like millionaire money to me and for them. Yeah, for the record. If they have an app, this, The Guardian starts at 48, which is actually very good. For me, though. I did interview for The Guardian past the coding talent, somehow I don't even remember the exact questions. There were something about FETs. And something about test driven development, which I found funny because I can write tests if needed. But I can have passed that interview. And I actually felt very motivated, because this was the first job that I actually hold and interviewed and God. And that actually felt great worst part about cold calling the Guardian is that if you go to jumpstart the guardian.com, like any reasonable person would do. That's their classifieds website. That's where other people post jobs, not the Guardian, The Guardian, if you want to work for The Guardian that work for us that the guardian.com or something like that.

Tim Bourguignon 33:56
First, the first puzzle to find out

Laura Gonzalez 33:58
suddenly, once you realize that you are in the top 1% of people who want to apply for The Guardian, so everything

Tim Bourguignon 34:08
so you did wonderful. Yeah, The Guardian, obviously,

Laura Gonzalez 34:11
I had a bit of a rocky start, I still may remember. Tell me. I showed up bright eyed on my first day at The Guardian. My expectations for the role were actually I'm gonna try journalism, fourth grade, emotive stories, stuff like that, you know, make cool, yeah. Anyway, I showed up on the first day, nobody knew that was my first day except me handed down the email. Going to the list of managers that they have given me. One of them was on PTO. That was not good. The other one, they found him and they called him and were like, hello, we have a person that claims to work for us. They didn't have my laptop Friday, so I just kind of sat with the team they assigned and they assigned me to the identity team. Now the the job of the identity team was to get people to subscribe to the their newsletters, again, in a GDPR compliant way, it was incredibly exciting. And I will encourage something cool about the Guardian is that they actually develop in the open. So you're still able to this day to actually look at most of my code contributions. There. They are on GitHub, which is no, that's actually pretty awesome. But, yeah, it did mean that or about my first six months, it was doing tech boxes. And what's even worse is that as I got hired, The Guardian was undergoing a very big transformation internally that I have no idea about, because I wasn't. And this is that they switch to a tablet format for the newspaper. So it used to be Berliner. And then if you're familiar with newspapers, sizes, you probably are not because they're backwards. But basically, they were making the paper smaller to cut costs, it's actually printed in the same place as the rest of tablets. Now, alongside this, there was also a brand new, shiny redesign. And because they got this whole aura of prestige and secrecy about them, we were not supposed to talk about the redesign, like I was just hired, and I knew something was going on. Because every day I showed up at the office, there were less front end engineers around me, they were disappearing like flies. And they started to ask what happened? What the hell is going on? With focus, everybody? Well, I eventually made a case that we needed this landing page to go read the site for the redesign. And I injected myself into that project, because honestly, it's a cool project. It's not once. Yeah, once in a lifetime opportunity, I want to say but as a matter of fact, we had another witness time two years in, and I had to do that. So opportunity with them saying, absolutely. I was the only front end developer left in the in that floor. Oh, yeah. Also, if you want to know, basically, on my first day, they told me in a very high Harry Potter esque way that the fourth floor was off limits. That's where everybody was, but oh, yeah, no, the first floor is abandoned. Nobody sits there. And so I went to tech one day, and there were people corner in the distance. And it was like, Okay, what the fuck is going on? And that's how I found out about the release time.

Tim Bourguignon 37:11
You heard some music behind the door. It's not abandoned.

Laura Gonzalez 37:19
per se. And I learned this way later. That's also where the secret infested cotton investigations room is Satan.

Tim Bourguignon 37:27
Oh, okay. So it can be off limits as well.

Laura Gonzalez 37:30
That was very off limits. It has its own battery. They have been private to it once. And all I can tell you is that it's a fucking mess on the inside. It's like a, it's like the CSI set. Just shredding paper everywhere. It's very, very cinematic.

Tim Bourguignon 37:44
There's some truth to the Hollywood then. Oh, okay. Interesting.

Laura Gonzalez 37:47
But yeah, because I was the only front end developer left on my floor, I got my big break, which was to make the new GDPR compliant cookie ban. That's right. I have made one of the internet, one of the 10 most click buttons on the internet, the one where you just accept all of the cookies. That's mean, that was me, let's say 100 100 is probably about right. I don't know. However, at the time, basically, we had to ship this before. I'm sure you're all familiar, at least outside of America. You're all familiar with Cookie dialogs. At this point, you're gonna like the big ACCEPT button. And if you go to Configure, you get this long as list of advertisers. And this is all handled by third parties like Admiral. I don't know who else but we didn't have time, we actually had to be GDPR compliant by a very tight date. I'm not entirely sure why. Turns out none of that was GDPR compliant. Anyway, there's an investigation going on in the European Parliament right now. But we it was very important that we had that, that we had the Toots cookie banner in there, I decided that the best way to store the consent cookie because I was doing this myself, we knew we might want more purposes. So I made it a semicolon separated list of comma separated values. So you mark one consent and the date of that consent. And if you wanted a second consent, there was room for it because that was what their semicolon was about. Anyway. Were you aware that several cookie parsing libraries just completely crapped the floor? If that cookie value has a semicolon?

Tim Bourguignon 39:20
I didn't. But I guess you learned the hard way.

Laura Gonzalez 39:23
I didn't either. And I learned this at the word GDPR. Whoa, we are GDPR compliant party. I was three years in and people started reporting that they were not able to sign into the Guardian sign into the Guardian, which is it's fascinating in its own right. But people were reporting that we had no idea what was going on. And I just remember exactly how we traced it to this bloody cookie. And I remember basically grabbing one of my colleagues and just be like, Okay, I had four beers. You have four beers that makes it that makes eight of us like that. To be strong, if you will cooperate together, let's crack some code. Let's fix this. And just Patsey live coding apart that would like the cookies failing JavaScript, but everything on the server side was probably now. So we wrote some JavaScript that basically intercepted the cookie rebranded on your format, then save the cookie in the new format. And then, yeah, basically. And then basically, we just kept that running for I don't know, for like a week to make sure that everybody had clear, clean cookies.

Tim Bourguignon 40:31
Before no store,

Laura Gonzalez 40:32
we restored the website to its former glory.

Tim Bourguignon 40:37
Okay, anybody can see this. This is cool. This is cool. Before we call you today, what what motivated you to go away from the garden and move into tomato or Facebook in the trial? No, it was called Facebook back then.

Laura Gonzalez 40:50
It wasn't I actually moved also in the middle of her secret credit time. So that was, it's always a what, how much? Do you bet they tend to them? Again, if I quit? Yeah, we used to call it Facebook in Calico, sorry, to this to make it different from Facebook, the app and it was very confusing. So we're actually all happy that this matter now it's so much easier. Yeah. What motivates me is, basically as I was growing in my career, the way that Guardian was set up for career progression is that after you become a senior engineer, there, there was a very limited spots of lead engineers, and the most common way to progress was to become a manager, I didn't want to become a manager. So I didn't immediately started looking elsewhere. But at the same time, what was happening as well is that I eventually became very active in the tech community. And this was actually the Guardians doing because part of their progression framework at The Guardian is to kind of build yourself a brand out there and become kind of an acknowledged developer in the wider world, which is a pretty heavy ask if you ask me, I don't know how. But yeah, I took it to heart. And so through most of 2019, I was actually in, I was speaking at several conferences, kind of attending others and doing some writing and after to tweet in jokes about code. And through all of the I eventually made a couple of folks who are who work at Facebook, like Rachel name, or Sentinel pi, of course, and Abramoff, who doesn't know him. I only knew of Facebook as the Facebook website. But I had never considered actually turning Facebook because I didn't think I was cut for the role like this felt like several leagues ahead of me, but all of them, they convinced me to at least try to apply. And something we don't really did it in the end, was also in 2019, it was coming down from a music festival got some work emails, and I was like, You know what, it's time for a change. And I. And that's when I applied to Facebook, because I have some friends there. And it felt like good talent. And you know, worst case scenario, at least I got rejected from Facebook matter, but at least I try. Something I didn't knew at the time. And I don't think it's widely publicized either is that meta actually has a specific interview track for AI engineers, we call ourselves but it's front end development. Don't get me wrong, you will still need our your or your crag in the Facebook interview books for this. But it is a bit more suited to the realities of JavaScript, TypeScript development and say, hardcore algorithm. And that's actually how I got here today.

Tim Bourguignon 43:29
Very cool. So thank you for that. You said at one point your load your way into this, I love this. And it may or may not become the title of this besides yoloing your way into the day, did you get a piece of advice that resonated with you along your career? Or was it just YOLO your way in there?

Laura Gonzalez 43:45
I used to also be a code bar mentor. And I've seen this in a lot of people. I think, I got here slowly. And I made mistakes on the way like the startups and stories for payments then, and all the moves. I think that's what you get if you follow your way through themes do you get you get to where you want to go slower, you hit bumps on the way you come up with cool anecdotes. But if you have an intentional goal about I don't know, I want to go to a Fan Company. There are so many better ways to do that. Or bad to actually test. Yeah, fumble your way and scale too slowly, like I did. But at the same time, I will say I have fun. I have had a lot of fun. And this is something I i still have at work. And I think that's my one secret to staying sane, even on this environment. Like I always tried to find the parts of myself that I liked the most. And those are the ones I tried to attract the best to so I know for example right now, putting together the painful activity for my team. And that's incredibly stressful and the painful people for some reason only talk to me via WhatsApp sending audio texts is meant if you ask me, but that's how they asked how they manage their business. And this will help me it has nothing to do with code but it's enjoyable. At the end of this, I'm gonna have painful. And I think this applies to a lot of things. Same way that when I picked up a design internship, and I think this also applies to career growth inside of a company as well, like, this is probably not the fastest way to get promoted in, I'm doing quite a right for myself there. But it is a way to enjoy what you're doing. And I think what really keeps me yeah, what really keeps me in this industry in general is that I have horrible work life balance. But the way I try to deal with this is well, first of all, I'm trying to be more intentional about what I do in my life, that always helps. Yeah, and then just Yeah, find work. I enjoy doing more of that and less of the work I do not enjoy.

Tim Bourguignon 45:44
Amen. Amen to that. Thank you very much. So where would be the best place to to start a discussion or continue this discussion with you?

Laura Gonzalez 45:53
I think you can definitely find me on Twitter is at frizzy the Rito. It's a fun read if you want to follow it. But if you want to test the M is right, it's mostly pictures of my cat salsa at this point.

Tim Bourguignon 46:05
And we'll add a link to the show notes. If you didn't catch the handle. Do you have anything on your plate? Anything coming up? Huge. Do you want to plug in

Laura Gonzalez 46:10
nothing right now we are still kinda in this weird post pandemic conference state. And this is actually my first engagement in STS 2020. So thank you so much for this opportunity.

Tim Bourguignon 46:23
That was my pleasure. That was a very fun, fun, fun activity and fun story that you're sharing. And thank you thanks to your to your work life balance very late for both of us. But we had a good time. So thank you very much. Thank you. And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you like the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appear on our website, Dev journey dot info, slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Will you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info. Talk to you soon.