Software Developers Journey Podcast

#206 Carl Alexander has a lifelong hate for coding interviews


⚠ The following transcript was automatically generated.
❤ Help us out, Submit a pull-request to correct potential mistakes

Carl Alexander 0:00
If my journey is useful for someone, it's the fact that if something didn't feel right for me, I wasn't scared to try something else. You shouldn't be scared to try something else. We're living in the best time to be a computer engineer, your risk is so low. It's not like somebody who's like in finance or like a friends in finance or like somewhere else. If you're doubting what you want to do, or you want to try something else, take the risk, either do it on your free time, or I'll try to find a job that fits that if you have that luxury to do it.

Tim Bourguignon 0:30
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 team building your own this episode 206. I received Carl Aleksandr Carl is a PHP developer from Montreal in Canada. He's the solo founder of Emir Emir

Carl Alexander 0:55
Windermere, yeah, actually, you got it? You got it. Everybody. All the Americans are always like, Why me or not? It's it's from nordic mythology.

Tim Bourguignon 1:03
I figured I figured, yeah, I'm here. So here is a several s DevOps platform for WordPress. Carl has been a WordPress montrail. Organizer since 2010. Wow. 12 years, and helped around the other world credit for 10

Carl Alexander 1:15
years that without COVID. You got to cut the COVID years.

Tim Bourguignon 1:20
Come on, it counts, it counts. It's, it's still there somewhere. Oh, I mean, I aged during those two years.

Carl Alexander 1:29
We all age way too much.

Tim Bourguignon 1:33
And so called you're also helping in other WordPress events during the years, maybe not the COVID years. But but the other years. And I as I have come to know you, and then this was this was weird moment, your professional meme or on Twitter. And this is astonishing, and the memes that you're throwing around. But welcome to dev journey.

Carl Alexander 1:50
Thank you. Hi. Hi, everyone.

Tim Bourguignon 1:52
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 journey 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 guest. So call, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like and imagine how to shave their own future. So as is usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your delta tree?

Carl Alexander 2:44
Yeah, I've been thinking of it for in preparation for this recording. I mean, there's different phases of my journey because I'm just for context. I'm about 39 years old, I'm turning, I will be by the time this actually is shown I will be 39. So yeah, no time warping. And so when I started programming, I was six. And it was it was on Apple, it was this, this software called like logo writer, and it would let you draw stuff. It was like a little turtle and you could draw stuff. And you could program it to draw stuff and make animations and things like that. And I did a robotics project with that. So like I had the computer control a motor, and the animation would trigger the motor and do all this stuff. And I was like in that wasn't like my first year of programming. But it was like by let's say I started in fourth grade. It was like by no even earlier than maybe third grade. And by fifth grade, fifth or sixth grade, I did that project. So I was I was already kind of like touching that my my dad had a computer at home but I didn't do any programming when I then I got to high school. And we had a computer lab and I've met some some guys that were in the computer lab. It was mostly cars at that time. And they'd done like these these games like The just choose your own adventure. Like there's three doors in front of you. Which one do you pick and then you could just pick and you could fight but it was all text based. But that got me kind of like hooked and and I did some 3d. We had some 3d graphics stuff. And I was like doing things. And then I started touching some web like we had some courses. Like that taught you web development. So I did a bit of that. So like I touched programming pretty much throughout my childhood, which was really unusual at the time. Like it wasn't common. Like for example, my elementary school having a computer lab was like a donation from IBM like it wasn't every elementary school that had a computer lab. We just I just lucked out and I was in a school that had that but I was kind of always exposed too. So I consider like if I, if we look at that phase of my life, there's two things that are i, and you hear that a lot about developers, at least the ones my age, I had a lot of Legos too. So I was just used to, like creative building, like I loved building. And at some point, I just started real, I just really got into programming because it let me build cool shit. Like I was just like, and I just kept doing it and doing it. And for a while, I was like, I didn't know if that was going to be my career for honestly, I just kind of it was something I, you know, I played video games, and I did some programming not like, heavily, it was just something I like doing at school. And I was just like, I was thinking of not even being like, so I wasn't even thinking of being a programmer. I remember I was going to counseling. And I was just like, I think I want to be in history. And the counselor told me like something that really stuck with me is like, some things can, some things can just be a hobby, and, and then they kind of clicked that I like I like a lot of stuff. And this is going to come back, I'm going to talk about it a bit later. But I'm like, I'm very multidisciplinary, I like learning stuff. And that's been a really important aspect of, of my journey is I like learning not just programming things just I like learning. And I don't like that I don't like when I stop learning. So it's been a bit of a challenge, as I'll explain a bit later, but like for but that kind of stuck in my head. Like I was like, oh, like maybe I just loved reading about history. Like I just found it fascinating. But I was like, maybe that's not the right thing for me. So and then I just went the engineering route. And it kind of I kind of lucked Honestly, I feel like lucked out. Like I think anybody in their career has to be honest, and be like, there's luck. There's luck, I like I've given a talk on on that. It's, it was called like, what it's like following your passion. I had a section, I'm very self conscious about this stuff. I, I there's a lot of things you'll see online, if you're not familiar with, there's something called survivorship bias. And survivorship bias is basically you only hear about people that have survived, like the people that fail, you never hear about them. So you think that there are a lot, a lot more like success stories than there actually are when, in fact, the success stories are mostly outliers. And, and there's just a lot more failures. And I'm very sensitive to that when I tell my story. So that's why I'm like mentioning luck mentioned also like, you know, I have some privileges as well might as well mentioned it now. But you know, like I my parents pay for my school. And then I have student debt. If you're in the US, I'm very sympathetic to people that I have a lot of student debt, like I lucked out, like my parents paid. And that really had a profound effect on what's going to wonder what I'll discuss later, like how my career went, because when you have student debt, like it's something that hangs over your head. So there's just a bunch of privileges like that, that it's important to keep in mind, even as you're listening to my story, it might not apply to you. But I hopefully there's some things that are useful either way. But so to go back to this element of luck is is basically I just kind of like okay, well what do I like, besides history or economics or things like that. And it was all engineering. So I kind of like just kind of shifted, and then I just kept doing sciences. And then I kept doing everything and then I was going to college. And this is a funny story. So this you can't see this right now. But there's a there's a cardboard version of me behind me while we're recording over my shoulder but a story that I like to say so I went to college and in I'm from French Canada, and I don't have much of a French accent anymore. But I had never went to English school till college. So I was French taught till University and then I went to university in English Canada, and that was a pure fluke, my best friend was supposed to my best friend's mom wanted him to go study elsewhere. And basically, she was like, Oh, well, how am I going to convince my son to go study like somewhere else? I'll get his best friend to go so I get so I apply. I get in. And my friend says no, you know, screw you mom. I'm staying in Montreal. So I ended up so I ended up being this super shy like I Like, if anybody that knew me before, but an after college like, not the same person, like, that is the most transformative, it has nothing to do with programming, but as everything to do with what's going to happen my career after, but it was very transformative for me to have those kinds of experiences and taking risks, because I was a super shy, introverted, nerdy kid. And I was literally trust somewhere where I knew no one. And I had to, like basic. And it wasn't even my first language. And I was like, I have to make friends, I have to learn stuff. And you know, I kind of broke out of my shell. And it was a really transformative experience for me. So much so that I was like, I came out of college. And that's kind of where the wildstyle site started. So maybe I'll get to that story with the cardboard eventually. But that's related to college, but But I came out of college thinking, okay, like, this was a really transformative like, moment for me. How do I, I can't wait to see what post college life is going to be. And then they're like, oh, no, you're just going to get married, buy a house and like work for the next four years. And I was like,

Tim Bourguignon 11:15

Carl Alexander 11:17
I'm kind of like, not down for that. So. And that's kind of where I guess the second phase of this kind of like, journey, which again, isn't super programming related per se, but it's

Tim Bourguignon 11:33
stay with us.

Carl Alexander 11:34
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. It's programming in the sense that I graduated college. So I graduate college in computer engineering. And then I didn't do programming. I ended up i Yeah, so I ended up just so during high school, I ended up starting to do summer jobs for a law firm in their IT department, you know, like setting up computers and and I didn't know what to do when I got out of college. So I graduated in 2006. Like graduating first of all, there was no like pure software option out of it, like did a lot of hardware. I actually loved hardware design, I think like right now is I would have i If I could go back and and do my schooling again. Like today is like the best freakin time to do computer engineer. Like you can design your own chips have the Made in China and shipped here and you can like 3d print everything I'm like, before you need an entire department budget, like to buy a 3d printer. Like I remember, like when they got their first one, it costs like six figures like it was like $240,000 or something absurd, which, you know, nowadays, probably even closer to half a million dollars, it was like half a million dollars to get a 3d printer. And now you can just get that you can design the chips, like you don't need to have a foundry. I mean, that's where like a lot of transformative like companies like Apple like that's what makes Apple silicon so good is that they don't have to deal about the manufacturing of, of, but I love that. So I love that. But I was like there was no, there's no future for that. In fact, like almost everyone that I knew in computer engineering, no one did. Like computer engineering things like they all went software, basically because that's where the jobs were. So it was kind of hard. It was actually not that easy to get a job. Like out of computer engineering. It was like the options were I didn't study Montreal, if you studied Montreal, you were actually set, like everybody that went to Polytechnic just ended up working for Ubisoft. So they all made video games, which I'll get back in a bit actually, because I tried to break into video games and but I just didn't know what to do. So I, my, basically Director of Technology at the law firm was like, Well, do you want a job like I was backpacking in Greece? And I did my interview there. And I was like, Yeah, sure, but I started there. And basically I just got hired as like a kind of level two tech support, slash sysadmin. So I did I worked a lot on the servers and the infrastructure and I always love servers. So we haven't talked about it but I was running servers out of my like, house and like when I was in my college dorm like I have this server at home Um, that I was like, you know, pirate movies and stuff and bring them back to the college dorm. So I always like servers to Rich will, you know, like, again, multidisciplinary for me like I just like learning so so if anything actually one thing I think this is a good time for a tangent. So one thing that I I want to write about, but I haven't right written about yet, is something that's called like something like in defense of the generalists. So, I think there's a bad rap nowadays, in, in just in, in programming circles, like everybody feels like they need to specialize. And what I, what I what I like to think about and what people I think, fail to understand is you can be what I call an expert specialist, or an expert generalist. So to give a context, a generalist would be somebody that's just broadly good at something. So like, you can, you know, like I can do, I can do sysadmin work, I can do front end work, I can do back end work, like I'm like, basically what you call a full stack Dev, but, you know, I manage mail servers, that's not really full stack, like I'd like, you know, I do like server upgrades, like I do a whole bunch of stuff, but, and then you have the specialist, which is what everybody focuses on, oh, I want to be the best at React. So you'll know, like 90%, you'll be like the domain expert of React. So that's like what I call an expert specialist. But generalists usually get a bad rap because you're like, Oh, well, you're not as good. You can't come in as as good of a salary or something like that. But I don't think that's accurate. Because what people people fail to understand is people need the expert generalist. So the analogy that I like to use with the expert generalist is like a Navy SEAL. So like, I met, like, some of the best programmers I've ever known. We're all generalist, because they were like the guys. They were mostly guys like that, you would be like, hey, like, we have this old bank, like an IBM like DB two database, can you make it work, and they're, like, all, I don't know anything about it, but I'll figure it out. They're the guys who can drop, like, into a project, and they'll hit the ground running, you know, and I'm literally, I'm hired, like, most of my consulting work is, is around that. Like, it's, it's legacy software. Like, also stuff that's not super sexy, but it's that requires a wide breadth of knowledge. So, and I don't hear that talked a lot about but I think it's, it's really something that is not it's obviously not as cool as like working on React, or if I'm not a big JavaScript fan, but you know, like, I would love to work on go, for example, or something like that, like, the new like, the new hotness, you know, but I think there's something to be said about somebody that has that skill set. I know, I've hired for that skill set, like for somebody that you can, like, really, legitimately like, toss overboard, you know, like, they're the paratroopers. Like, you drop them, they have their training, you're gonna have radio silence for a while, but you know, that they're going to get it done, you know, and there's something valuable to that. And so that was kind of a tangent that I wanted to say, because I think, if you like that you shouldn't feel you shouldn't hold it against you. I think, I think the larger problem is people don't know how to sell it well. Like I never hear about people saying like, that, that Navy SEAL analogy, but like, when I talk to, you know, like I talked to I get hired as a as an enterprise consultant, like I talked to VP of Engineering and stuff like that, and like bait understand right away, when I use an analogy like that, because they know that sometimes they have projects. Like right now, I'm just as an example, I just had a meeting today. And it was about like, some tool in Python, like they need like somebody to, like, integrate, like some security service. You I do Python, almost never like most of my Python is basically like reading it and, and like working with Ansible. But like, I know, I'll figure it out. So it's, that's kind of like, I think that's a really strong skill. And it's something that I feel isn't talked about as much. And it's really, it's something useful. I'm not saying it's necessarily what everybody needs to do, but I I wanted to write that article for a long time because I feel like the generalist is just, it's not sexy. It's okay, if you're not sexy, but you shouldn't think you're like, less work than somebody that's a special you need both. Like, you need the guy that knows like, I have a friend who knows like Postgres inside out, you know, like he it's like a DBA Nobody argues against having a database administrator like you need those guys are magicians, like a good database administrator is a magician, they know the database engine denote like everything. But it's really important. Also to have that person that if you're like, you're getting something new and new technology or something like that. And that's how I got hired. So I'll get back to it. But that's how I got hired into programming after the law firm was because of the generalist aspect. But anyways, I'm gonna wrap up this tangent, don't feel bad. Oh, no, but I just mean, don't feel bad if you're a generalist, or if you like learning stuff, I think it's a really, it's a good skill. It's one I've hired for, and it's one that's definitely looked for. It's just most people don't know how to promote it. Well, like I got hired to give you an idea of like, we were talking by Python, right? And, one, if you don't know what WordPress is WordPress, and PHP, I got hired for enterprise work in PHP, inom, doing Python, and sysadmin work and stuff like that, that has nothing to do with WordPress, per se. This is not even, they were just like, we need somebody that can do this. And I was like, I, and we don't have the resources, can you do it? I was like, Yeah, I'll figure it out. And you know, and you need those types of people like you the same way you need the expert, DBA you need that, that type of person, and you need everybody in between. But if you're that type of person, just and you'd like it, like, just learn to, like, hopefully, you got that out of the message that you should just market yourself with a bit more confidence and be like, Look, I'll be the person when shit hits the fan, you can count on, you know, for the stuff that nobody knows. So to wrap this up, we'll get back to why this is important. But But I was doing basically system and work for this, this law firm. And

Carl Alexander 21:29
I because that was like basically what I could find that wasn't like I was in in Montreal, so I didn't have the insights to get into the gaming industry. And I just kind of thought, well, this is a pretty high position. Like I remember being super nervous, actually. Because that was like a position you needed five to 10 years experience in my, my boss, like the director was like, basically, no, I think you can do it. And I was like, I was legitimately freaking the fuck out. Like, before I was starting sorry. I don't know if you're allowed to swear. I think you know, I remember I listened to some shows. It's not a problem. Yeah, exactly. You actually you said exactly that phrase. You said you were European. We don't mind. So. But I was freaking the fuck out. And it was just and I ended up doing okay, like, I ended up doing very well. And a pattern started emerge that I'm gonna dwell on, but which is I learned a ton. Like, I knew nothing. And I had to learn like, Windows system, men, I know windows, cheese and Windows systems and like Windows servers, old, old stuff that you never hear anymore. Like, you probably heard of it. But VMware like virtualization, like, all these like things that now are ancient, basically, not used anymore, because you have Docker and all this other cool stuff. That's way better. But it was just like, I had to learn all that. And it was great. And I was just like, and then within a year, they were like, Oh, we're like trying to do these things. And I was like, Well, you know, kind of, like, do programming and stuff. And you know, and I was like, didn't know really C sharp at the time, but I was like, I did Java in college. I was like, you're allowed what's cheap? Yeah, exactly. I'll figure it out, you know, and they were like, Oh, we want to tie in all these, I was building all these kind of like, infrastructure for them to deploy applications. So like, that's a, again, this is kind of quaint now, but like in large enterprises, like back then you had, you'd log into your machine and you'd have like Windows, like server stuff, like going to background and being like, Oh, you have access to these applications. Let's, let's install them in the background for you. You had the remote desktop and stuff. So they didn't have any tooling for that. And I was just like, well, you know, like, I kind of know programming, maybe I can figure Jimmy something together. And like I've done Visual Basic before. So I knew with Visual Basic, it was great because you could build a UI in Windows and just like program, the back end of it. And it was just so I just did that but in C Sharp and and I love that I forgot how much I love programming because you didn't do that much programming in college like college. Like I said, I did computer engineer with software options. So basically, software option was you had two options. Yeah. Yeah, computer engineering software and computer engineering, kind of like more electrical. So you don't you took more electrical engineering courses or more computer science courses. But I took a lot of classes, like compilers, like I love compiler classes, but you know, not super useful, like the number of classes that were useful that I took in college. So little so little. It's like, I joke that I learned to party work hard party hard in college, like basically, that's all I learned and like I skipped classes, like, just I'm not a good. I'm not a good role model. But I think actually I think it's important because I think college It was really important for me from a personal development standpoint, but it wasn't great for a knowledge standpoint. It taught me. It taught me like work, like how to cram and stuff like that. But it just kind of reinforced the fact that I was a much better self taught person, then, than anything else. But if you learn well, that way, you should definitely go to school or things like that. But I think the big thing that I'm very receptive to now is because of college opened my eyes to is not judge somebody's like, educational background, just at face value. We all learn differently. I teach a lot online, and I teach the way I like to learn. So I'm known in the WordPress circles for basically, like, word vomit, it's basically like, I literally, I'm like, Oh, I wrote a small article, it's 3000 words, you know, like, it's, you know, their massive technical articles. Like, I literally go in all the details. And, and it's just, that's the way I like to learn. I like to read, like, I read the textbooks, like, I read, like, I didn't go to class, I read the end, that was the way I learned. So I'm very receptive to that. And I'm very receptive to like how different people learn. But the point is, I didn't do a lot of programming in college, actually. And I kind of like, forgot that I loved it. And I was starting to build these tools. at the law firm. I was like, Shit, I love building stuff, like web programming, programming is awesome. Like, why did I not just do that out of college? So and this is the pattern, I basically learned all I basically got to the 80%. So there's a rule like, you know, you're gonna learn like maybe 80% of something very fast. And then the last 20, that number doesn't really matter. It could be like the last 10% last 15. But you'll learn most of it really fast. And then the last bit takes, sometimes your entire lifetime to learn. And that's where the specialist thing that I went on that tangent comes from, for for it comes in, is that that's where the specialty comes in. He has a lifetime of understanding, like small things that take a while to learn. But I just didn't like that. So I was just like, I was a sponge. And if I couldn't sponge shit, I was just basically on board now. I need, I need to leave. So I think it took a year and a half. And I was like, basically, during that time, I was actually like, I was starting to think, Okay, I'm going to maybe do an MBA, like I was just like, I just I just want to learn stuff. Like I was just like, I need I need my fix. You know, it was kinda like, you know, I don't want to use addiction, kind of like verbiage too much. But it was. It's I just like learning a lot. So it was, so I didn't like it when I didn't. And I felt stifled and I didn't feel like I was living up to my full potential if I'd been. So I kind of left. And that was like in 2008. So I left and I was like so another thing happened at the end of college I did my way I alluded to I was in Greece, I was backpacking, that was my first backpacking trip. And that was also really transformational to me. Like, it was just college and backpacking. Just open this side of me that was like I didn't even know existed, like I was just such a shy, bullied, introverted kind of kid. And, you know, when you're in high school, you'd think like, oh, being a nerd is going to be like a negative forever. But actually, it doesn't like at some point, it turns into a positive. And I was kind of starting to learn that I was like, really, it was just really empowering. And I wanted to do go backpacking again for a long period of time, so I just kind of quit then that was like summer 2008. So that and that was like, just before Lehman Brothers, like frickin went belly up. I was just like, leaving and they went belly up. And I was like, well, that will be what I call a future call problem. So it'll be a future car problem when I come back, like how am I gonna get a job in this? Basically, what ends up being a very shit job market, but I was just like, Nope, you know, I'm gonna go backpacking and went backpacking, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, so just stay, but it was, it was great. I just love backpacking so much. The saddest thing since with COVID is I was literally in Colombia when COVID started so so it was just I just love backpacking. But I came back and I was just I had to find a job and I was just like, but I really wanted to go in programming. So I, I had the bug now like, I was just basically Okay, programming is the thing I want. I don't know if it's the only thing I want, but I was just like, I need I need to find a way to do that. And I was thinking, Okay, well, I like build, I like build. So this is where the gaming things comes in. So I'm at the law firm, and I'm like, I love building tools. I like building tools for people, like maybe. So in get in video games, they have something called tools developer. So a tools developer is, is the person inside the company will use Ubisoft care, because they're the ones I applied to that bills, like the internal tools, let's say you're building a new gaming engine, and you need like an editor to like, you know, do the graphics and manipulate the ragdolls, and things like that, or the level designers or the level editors or things like that. The people that build that are the tools that I designers, and I was like, I just love that I didn't want to be anything else. Like I applied for tools developer. And, and basically, if I didn't get that I was not interested. So

Carl Alexander 31:00
and that was my first experience. Well, around. It wasn't my first first but that was when I became aware. Because before that I wasn't aware. So I wasn't aware of what they call like programming interviews. And this started my lifelong hate of programming interviews, and so much so that I like so we'll talk where I ended up but because I did hiring there, but but basically what ended up happening with Ubisoft was that it was like going super well. Like again, like I'm I was I learned to be a really outgoing, good person to talk to. And I was like, interesting. And I was like, I answered all the good stuff. And then they would like, Okay, this looks all great. We just need you to pass one small exam. And we'll, we'll see you we'll see how this goes. And I was like, oh, no, cool. I'll never see you again. Because I was like, I'm bad at exams like I'm, I'm bad. Like, it was just like, I hate. I don't hate a lot of things. But I think programming exams are literally the worst thing they don't teach. They don't they just teach you to like, as a professional crammer and bullshitter. Like for exams, like I know how to pass exams, like in an educational context, like, they don't teach you anything. And it doesn't tell you anything, if you can do if you knew well, I don't even remember what it was because I like didn't really know C++ that well. So it was just like, I was like, I'll figure it out. But they didn't know to be fair, they didn't know. But it was just like, you know, and that was like the catch 22. And that's like the hardest catch 22 When you're a person like me is like how do you prove that you're actually what you say you are. But the exams weren't a good way to do that. Because the exams were just like, do you know this stuff? Is it important to your day job? No. Is it it's all stuff you would have Googled already, like we're in 2008. Google exists, like you're already Google. We were already googling stuff in 2008, like 2009. So it was like, that wasn't the issue. So what did it serve? Nothing. Like and, and I just came out, and I did a lot of interviews, and a they all went the same way. It was like, they're all super excited. Then they're like, we're just gonna pass you in a programming exam. And I'm like, Cool. See, you never, basically because I knew I was gonna bomb them. Like, I knew I was gonna bomb them. Because I don't do I don't. Like, I didn't know what to cram. And I wasn't going to cram for some random shit. Like is, so it was. So it was just that I was like, Okay. And so that went on for a while, like, not like, not a year, but let's say like, it's been a while. So I want to say six to eight months. So and then I ended up I, you know, I was still living. I just, I was a boomerang kid. I just went back my parents, so I wasn't like, dying or, again, privilege was like bringing it back to the beginning privilege. So I had the privilege of being able to go back my parents and not have to worry too much about like financial stuff. So but like, I really wanted to do programming. And eventually I ended up to this agency. And they were like, I have I interviewed for a dotnet position and it didn't work out and I don't exactly remember how it exactly played out. But they were just like, we have this contract. We don't have any expertise. Like it's for this thing called WordPress. Do you want to like work on that? I was just like, I'll work on anything. Like I'll literally work on anything I just, I just want to do programming. Like I just want to get out of this catch 22 situation so because i i There's it didn't matter that like I had great references and like Like my, my previous boss was like, Googling, like I was trying to change, like I was trying to do a career change, like I was going out of the, if you don't know, like the law firm, it world is very close knit like my boss like basically was working at one law firm, then he got hired or poached to another law firm. And so and so like, and then they bring all their like, the all the employees, they like, they just poach them, and it's just, it's, it's very incestuous. And, and, and but it's very close. Like it's, it's very, like, close, close together. So it's just like hard to like, break out, like I was just trying to, like not do that anymore. So. So I start doing WordPress stuff and do a first project. I'm like the first developer with another guy that they hire, and it goes well, and then they want them to get more projects. And I basically ended up being we worked for, they're called Rogers publishing, which is basically the Canadian equivalent of like, times, basically times Warner. And so they had big, they have tons of publications online. So it was like, it was a big deal to be able to do that. And, you know, I, so I started this whole kind of like, they had no PHP division. So I started like the whole PHP team, with that other person, but the other person wasn't super involved. I'm kind of a go getter, like makes me a bit hard to work with sometimes because I'm like, if I can't get the stuff that I need, I'll just I won't say my late so but they love that it's it's really good when you're, again, know your strengths. It's really good in that context, because they just needed somebody that was going to get the job done. Like I would call the customer. Like I would call the client and be like, talk with them. And eventually, like the team grew and I became I started doing like pm work like the business analysts work. And then I started doing the hiring. So we'll just go back then close that tangent. But like with the hiring, I never hired, I never passed any. Like my, my boss was like, ask some probing questions. I was like, I literally don't think it matters. First of all, to give a bit of context, for people that aren't super familiar with WordPress, WordPress has the benefit. And the negative aspect of having being super accessible. So you can just you can start doing WordPress and have there's so many people like people in their 50s that I've just career changed into WordPress, because it was like some PHP is like an accessible, you don't need to compile it like it's easy to host. So it's relatively easy to get it was really, it's not as much now but at the time, it was really easy to get into. So you ended up having and this is also going to continue continue to journey. But there's there was a wide range of, of technical ability. So you had people that basically knew how to copy paste stuff from Stack Overflow, and had no CS, computer science background, all this stuff, but the computer science background or not, they just didn't understand really programming except like copy pasting it to get the outcome they wanted. Oh my goodness. And so for that it was just we just had to hire, we just had to hire so because there was this wide range of, of skills skill. We just had to hire somebody like I was looking for somebody with more technical chops than what a traditional WordPress developer was. So how do you hire for that? Well, one, you couldn't hire necessarily a PHP developer, I had to look for, I basically started looking at there's a meme of me actually, it's like soft skills to pay the bills, because I was literally looking at your soft skill. I was like, basically hiring and I was like, Okay, tell me of a cool project that you worked on. Or tell me about a difficult problem that you solve recently. There's pretty standard questions now. But they weren't super standard at the time. And they told me more about I needed somebody that I could just confidently say, Okay, if I tell you to do something, you'll figure it out. Kind of like what mean, but I just I needed people that will figure it out, because we're doing stuff that's non standard that has no, no kind of parallel. And that's kind of like why I hired that way. So that kind of ended that. So we don't have a lot of time. So I'm going to speed up a bit, but because we're I'm still hired and I haven't worked for that place for 10 years, basically. So but I think that part is more important of the journey than where I'm at now. Because I think it's the introspection that was important. It was just like, I threw out the thing. I kind of learned what I wanted. So while I was doing that job, I became a pm. I did I did basically every job under director slash CTO. So that was where I was going. And I kind of realized that I didn't want to do that. i Well, part of me wanted to do it. So I applied to to I was doing, I mentioned MBA. So I applied for MBA at Harvard, Stanford, I was really aiming really high, but I had really good test scores. So I was like, well, aim high, and at worst, you fail. But through the process, I realized that I was just like, oh, I actually just want to start my own business. So and I just, I just like, programming. I like programming. And I like,

Carl Alexander 40:34
I want to start my own business, I want to be in charge of my own life. So I basically ended up that also lasted about two years. So that phase lasted about two years. And I also left like after I didn't get into the NBA, I left and I basically started what is my I consider the current journey still, but it's phase one of that journey, which is basically I just started being more involved. Like, during that time, I became more involved with WordPress, I just love the community. And I just started writing, I started writing I wanted to start a business I tried to a couple of like, before bootstrapping route was really popular. I was trying to bootstrap. So I was like, I started a fitness software. Terrible idea. And I was like trying to do error management for WordPress. So like, basically like century do, you know, century centuries, so century or and back then there was like New Relic. They were like, oh, it's kind of like New Relic. It was like, not quite, because New Relic sucked for WordPress. So it was just like, so it was just like, it still kind of sucks for WordPress, but it was kind of like, but there wasn't enough people that knew what it was. So I was just like, Okay, I'll just teach. So I started teaching. And that kind of led to me writing a book. And that took a while, like, I'm speeding through it. But it's, it's not really because of a lot of stuff happen. Obviously, a lot of stuff happened in the sense that I like their memes and things like cardboard came to existence during that time. And cardboard was basically like a bunch of people that were at work camp that were like Carl's, in Europe, backpacking, we just want them at this work camp, like we'll make. And we want to troll. So we'll just start this cardboard version of, we'll do this cardboard version. So I'm in like Spain, and all these tweets are coming in. And people like taking these selfies with this cardboard version of me. And I'm just like, hell's going on. And everybody was so excited. And they were like, shit, like, we want, we want to cardboard at our artwork camp. And I was like, well, if somebody wants to bring it, like my rule for cardboard was like, I don't move it. That's a big community run. So people started moving it around and went to New York, there's like pictures with with cardboard with the I persisted girl. So you traveled for about like a year. But I remember going to events when we were both at the same event, and people would just walk up to me, and they're like, where's the cardboard version of you? And I'm like, Hi, I'm Carl. person. And, you know, it was just like, really bizarre. It was like, it was a it was like, kind of like, there's a lot more means but it was, it was that was what was going on at the time. But a lot of it was teaching. I was just, I wish that we had a bit more time. But it was just like, I that part isn't so much about programming, it was about what I want out of my life, which is like kind of the journey I'm on now. It's because even then it's changed so much back back in 2009 10. Really, the only way to progress as a like developer was to get into management. And it took a lot of guts at the time to just an introspection to be like, no, like, I'm not like, I don't want to do that. And, you know, from a from a developer journey, I think that's what's really important. I think the options have increased. But that was kind of where I was at with the generalists too. And I hope some if that's helpful for someone, because I think what's really important with my journey that's been really different from a lot of my peers is just that, like, when something didn't work for me, and it was against the grain I like went against the grain, like when it was like when when being a general like being a generalist is not super cool. Working on legacy applications isn't super cool. But if you're strong at that, you can market yourself that way. If there's a need, especially the generalist stuff, okay, maybe nobody, not everybody wants to work on legacy applications. They're not fun to work on but, but a generalist, you can be a generalist in the frickin startup actually, like, that's the whole point of wearing many hats. And in a startup, like, it's, it's about being the generalists. It's just eventually people kind of lost sight of the fact that that was a cool thing, too. And I think that's really important because that's been a really important aspect of of my developer journey is just being in touch, being honest with myself about what I wanted as a developer, because especially, you know, most of you that are listening to this or You're probably younger than me. But like a lot of developers, like our age are starting to get tired of like, they're tired of learning. And I'm like, I'm not stoked as ever to learn. Like, I have some friends that are just like I want to get in management, like, I'm tired, like, things change all the time. You're, you're loving. And right now, it's like JavaScript, but when JavaScript is gonna be the old and busted and 10 years, like, you're not gonna feel so good about things, and maybe you'll be like, tired, you won't want to learn the next thing, or the next thing, or like the two things after that, but I love that, like, so being honest with that, I think that's a really important of your developer's journey is like learning what you like, what you don't like, and kind of angling yourself that way. If you don't like the, you know, like, I work in enterprise as a consultant, I don't work a lot of hours and, and I couldn't do a lot of hours and enterprise because it's so much drama and politics. And, and, and they have they have as you call it, not councils, but like your promotion goes through, like a process and you feel like so out of, like, so much of it feels like, at least to me, like out of your control, or like they were you're just gaming it. And I'm just like, Okay, well, I don't want to spend my life gaming stuff gets cool. You know, we didn't talk about the fact that I'm really drifty. But I've liked for a developer, like you shouldn't follow me if you want to make money, my journey, not the right one. Like I've I've like, there, there are memes of me about like how I hate money, I'll do stuff for free. The joke with me is I don't want to do consulting work for people, I don't know. And then when I know you, I don't want to charge you so so. So so but but the important thing is, think for yourself, we're going to I think this is a good way to close it. If my journey is useful for someone, it's the fact that I chose to if something didn't feel right, for me, I wasn't scared to try something else. And you shouldn't be scared to try something else. We're living in the best time. Like, best time to be a computer engineer. Like your your your risk is so low. Like it's it's not like somebody who's like in finance, or like a friends in finance, or like somewhere else. Like they worry about like getting like people are falling over each other to hire you. So if, if you're like doubting what you want to do, or you want to try something else, take the risk, either do it on your free time, or I'll try to find a job that like fits that. And if you have the luxury, obviously, you know, like I said privileges. But if you have that luxury, do it because I think that's like really important and they'll probably make your life like your developer's journey. Much more interesting.

Tim Bourguignon 47:38
Amen to that. Yeah. It's good way to wrap it. It is. I usually ask for advice, but it's been piece of advice of a piece of advice for people.

Carl Alexander 47:47
I'm glad like sometimes I feel like I'm like, I'm like, you know, I feel like I I couldn't even believe that you said they wouldn't even see the time pass. But I'm like, oh my god, this is not even like 50% of what I want to talk about. But but it was a good. I think there was a lot of gems in there. So it wasn't. Thanks for having me. Oh,

Tim Bourguignon 48:08
my pleasure. So So where's the best place to find you online and get those memes you were talking about? Yeah. So

Carl Alexander 48:14
so I'm at twig press. So t i t wig, p r e ss on Twitter. That's where most of the memes are. In fact, I was like, Why did people follow me? And it's just because like, I like I'm not like a regular like, I don't post like every day. But you know, like most of the stuff that I posted is like jokes and half the time. And the other half is programming stuff. And you can find me if you're interested. Or if you're doing WordPress, or you're interested in just PHP and like I write about PHP in general to Carl alexander.ca. And then I did a terrible job like I should have been promoting my product. But if you're interested in serverless, WordPress or just want to talk serverless PHP, it's Eimear app.com. So why am i Our a pp.com.

Tim Bourguignon 49:05
And we'll add all this in the show notes. So yeah, you don't have to write it down. You just good. Awesome. Call. Thank you very, very much. No, thank

Carl Alexander 49:14
you for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 49:16
And this has been another episode of developer's journey 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 appears on our website, Dev journey dot info, slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link and at Dev journey dot info slash Delete. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week store is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or email info at Dev journey dot info talk to you soon