codepancake

your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 20: Claudia Reynders

Time to go to Belgium! This week we’ll meet Claudia Reynders.  Enjoy her wonderful story!

About Claudia:
Hi, I’m Claudia, a Belgian Product Manager at madewithlove. In my free time I blog about some of the things that interest me a lot, such as board games (geek warning!), games, tv shows, London and personal stories. I also participate in a lot of Tech/IT related meetups and who knows I might speak at one, someday.

Name: Claudia Reynders
Job: Product Manager / Front-end Developer
Favorite website, app or gadget: My Nintendo 3DS, since I absolutely love playing The Legend of Zelda series.
Favorite app: Keezy! With this app you can create your own soundboards. I usually just goof around with it by recording how my friends laugh, record some of their typical sentences or even some of my personal weird impressions. But you can also record and make music with it. It’s a very fun app to play around with. My friends and me already had tons of laughs with it.
Twitter: Mangamaui
Site: http://reindeerindistress.com & http://medium.com/@Mangamaui

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I was somewhere around the age of 7 when my mom bought our first computer. She taught me some of my very first DOS commands to install and play games., so I quickly turned into a gaming fanatic. And my mom being into gaming as well made it easier haha. Sometimes she would buy games because she liked them herself, but she would tell me she’d bought them for me. By the time I turned 14 I started buying pc gameplay-magazine where I would read about hardware and game developers. At that time I was still studying graphic design, but I always felt fascinated about computers and gaming. Even though I didn’t follow-up on it.

At the age of 25 I decided to do something with my fascination and I entered college. I wanted to learn how to code, how to make websites and make games. It was a difficult start but I really learned a lot! But after a bit more than 2 years I couldn’t proceed with my education anymore, I was having a very rough time with my family and decided to focus on that. I already learned the basics of JavaScript, Java, C++, ActionScript and so on…

After a year, I tried to get back on track by taking a PHP course. That got me an internship as a web developer at a pretty big agency. From there on I specialised further in front-end development.

What does your working day look like?
For some projects I function as a product and project manager, but I still do some front-end development as well.
I work mostly remote, so once a week I go to the office for meetings. On other days I start my day between 9 and 10 in the morning with a cup of coffee and by going through my mails and messages. After that I look if I need to create new issues/tasks for the developers or contact clients to inform them of new releases and so on. I have at least one call a week per project team, where we discuss our progress and further planning. Or if I’m planned in as a front-end developer I look at my assigned issues and work my way through them and do PR reviews for other developers. So I usually switch between 2 or 3 projects during the day. Except on Friday afternoon, then we have Innovation Fridays at work.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Very tough to choose… One small project I really loved working on was an infographic for a product. I had to implement several animations, which made it a very fun project to work on. That and a Spotify app for a local radio station. The app showed featured playlists and an overview of the shows that were currently running. Under each show you could find the track lists from every broadcast. So I actually had to turn the track lists into Spotify playlists. It was my very first big JavaScript project and it was certainly the project that made me love JS.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
Haha, yeah that would be one of my best friends actually. We studied together and she really is an amazing developer! She is someone I look up to and kept me going at times I doubted myself. I really loved working together with her on school projects, it just felt like we were a good team and were having tons of fun.

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
I love that you can create so many different apps, gadgets, games and so on.. And that you can get creative in building things in many different ways, so many technology you can choose from. Programming really does feel like solving a puzzle sometimes, or challenging yourself to improve.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
No, like I mentioned before family issues made me decide to quit at that time. I did learn a lot from my studies though. All the basics of programming I got from my first 2 years of college. I do regret it sometimes, but maybe I hadn’t end up where I am today if I got that degree. I probably would’ve taken a very different career path.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
You can learn to code easily these days. Just take an e-course or go to a start-to-code-event. I can only say: Start small, make sure you learn and understand the basics well enough. It will prove to be worth the while. Most of all, don’t be discouraged! There are a lot of different ways and jobs to get into tech these days. Just keep on looking and trying different things, talk to like-minded people and you’ll find your way.

Extra question from Ludwine: What is the biggest challenge you had to manage with your job?
I think it was mostly learning when to ask for help. Sometimes my pride would stand in the way and I would be stubborn because I got so focused on to solving issues on my own. I also did not think about the impact it had on the project team.

Thank you Claudia for sharing your amazing story :-)