A Senior Developer Speaks
Interviewee: Roger Braunstein
Job Title: Senior Developer, Schematic
What drew you to a career as a web developer?
First, my interest in math in middle school led me to discover the field of computer science. Using logical thinking to build something appealed to me. When I saw the first animated sites that used Flash well, I was pretty stunned. I have explored many other areas of software development and design since then, but my interest in design and animation led me back to the web as the artistic quality of Internet marketing skyrocketed.
What steps did you take to pursue your interests?
In high school I created an educational site for a competition, volunteered to be a webmaster and pursued a research project in developing a high school intranet to get students and teachers more connected and productive. In college I pursued lots of other avenues, but continued to make simple websites for organizations on the side.
After graduating, while working at AOL as a software developer, my interest peaked and I volunteered at every opportunity to do freelance work after hours. And through a lot of sleepless nights, I built up a portfolio of independently-produced design and programming work. That portfolio was my ticket back into the thick of the web design and development world.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Creating something that looks great and is fun to use.
What are some challenges you've faced?
Deadlines. Stress. Burn-out. Web development is client-driven. You must deliver on time with something great every time to stay in business—and time is never in abundance.
What is your advice for people interested in a web developer career?
Freelance and create a great portfolio. You can readily find small and medium-sized jobs to do on bulletin boards such as Craigslist. Set your rate relative to your experience and you can find clients who are looking for work at your skill level. Hands-on learning, I think, can't be beat, and there's plenty of potential for doing it. The most important thing you can show to a potential employer is your portfolio. These aren't just for designers and artists. Create a showcase of your best work and create new bests all the time.
What are the best character traits and qualities for the field?
You must write good code. This requires attention to detail, autonomy, pride in your work, a thirst for learning and, of course, good problem solving. You have to be able to adapt to change and work well with other programmers.