your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 32: Sophie de Brabander

It’s spotlight Friday! This time we’re going to meet Sophie, she’s a (self-taught!) front-end developer from Belgium! (And her blogs are hilarious :)) Enjoy reading!

Name: Sophie de Brabander, aka Zofie
Job: Freelance front-end developer
Favorite website, app or gadget: My Polar M400. It’s a watch, it’s a website, it’s an app. I constantly sync my activities to the app and it stimulates me to move, to work out and not sit on my chair all day as developers sometimes tend to do
Twitter: @Zofie

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
Four years ago I was working as a project manager in a small company and after a while I started to realize that I don’t want to tell developers what feature they should be building next, but I wanted to do it myself. So I quit my job and took a year to teach myself how to code. Four years later, I have worked on some awesome projects as a developer and now I’ve just started freelancing in August. I have never regretted my decision.

What does your working day look like?
Since I like structure there is a basic pattern I have for working days: coffee, work, lunch, work, coffee, relaxing, personal projects and studying, relaxing, sleep.

The further details depend on the job I’m working on at that moment. Work might be catching up on mails, attending meetings (which I try to keep relevant), checking the project’s commits on GitHub, coding, experimenting. To relax I walk the dogs, I work out, go for a bike ride (I love cycling) or read a book (I’m an avid reader).

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project so far is the project I’m involved in right now. I’m working for a start-up based in Ghent and we’re creating a platform for readers and creators of children’s book.

It’s a nice challenge, because since it’s a new product there are little rules or pre-defined structures. I like the complexity: there are lots of features and functionalities for which you have to take many factors into account.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
Shaun White. He’s not a developer, but he’s an inspiration. He is a heart patient, such as myself, and a pro snowboarder. Even though the doctors told him he would never be able to become a pro, he persisted. For me the message is that you can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t chase your dreams. You can.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t chase your dreams. You can.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
It is challenging and keeps evolving. So there’s never a dull moment.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
No. I graduated as a photographer. I’m an autodidact if it comes to programming. If I don’t know the answer to a problem I’ll figure it out myself or ask my network. Google and Twitter is my best friend.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
I started learning to code via codeschool. It’s the perfect platform to get a decent introduction to all the basics. Even if you want to take it up a notch there are higher level. And.. just do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

Extra question from Miriam: Do you have personal projects beside your daily work? Which one?
Yes, Madam Vélo. A project that started as a way to inspire and motivate heart patients such as myself to take up sports. It’s catching on outside of that first group, so now I’m expanding the scope to cycling and women.

I think Sophie is an inspiring example for everyone who wants to learn how to code.  Just do it! :) Super happy with her interview and I really love your side’s amazing. Thank you Sophie!