your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 34: Charlotte Spencer

Spotight Friday, time for another wonderful interview! This week we’ll meet Charlotte Spencer.  Spoiler-alert:  She’s funny, smart and honest. Enjoy reading! :)

Some words from Charlotte:
Hello! I’m Charlotte Spencer. I started to learn to code a year ago and am now a full-time Web Developer. My favourite programming languages are HTML, CSS, Python and JavaScript. When not at work I do a lot of Open Source stuff, focusing on making projects more accessible both from a technology and culture perspective. I like crime novels, zombies and computer games. My favourite emojis are the poop, the see-no-evil monkey, the information desk person and the computer; all of which make up an accurate representation of my daily life.

Name: Charlotte Spencer
Job: Web Developer at Marks and Spencer (@mandsdigital)
Favorite website, app or gadget:
Twitter: @charlotteis
Site: My website is out of date. You’ll actually find way more about me if you take a look at my twitter which others have described as a “stream of consciousness”, which I have decided to take only as a compliment :)

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?:
I’ve wanted to be a developer since I was 14 but spent many many years telling myself I couldn’t do it. The honest reason I pursued it in the end? I quit my job and spent a year in bed with burnout. During this time I had nothing to lose, so I thought “ok let’s do some computers”. A few months later I was doing an internship, then things continued from there.

What does your working day look like?
Commute into the office, be at my desk by 8am. Standup with my team, try to remember what I did yesterday, code reviews with my colleagues, meetings and writing some cool codes.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The project I’m building at work is very fun, because it involves a lot of user research and quickly iterating on things based on user input. Outside of work I get to do a lot of Open Source stuff with Hoodie ( where every day is different and exciting.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
No. “Heroes” is a concept I have never understood, it’s weird to me. However I will take this opportunity to say thanks to a bunch of cool people who make Tech (and the world) a better place: Ann Carrier, Erica Joy, Jenn Schiffer, Jenn Turner, Lily Madar, Mazz Mosley, Ola Gasidlo, Pilar Huidobro, Ruth John, Saron Yitbarek and Shelly Coen. Hi!

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I love when people ask me this question. Because I always start answering it with “I hate the tech industry”. That isn’t very inspiring for a Spotlight is it? But, I feel it’s important to be honest about these things. The tech industry is a bit of a swamp, the reasons why would take far too long to list for this interview.

However; I love working in the industry because programming excites me. And there are amazing people within it trying to change the industry for the better. These are the people who I hope one day will enable me to say “I LOVE the tech industry”. I love technology, I struggle with the culture.

I love fixing bugs, I love making people’s lives easier with technology, I love making people happy. I love watching people get excited when they write their first lines of code.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
Nope! I do have a degree though, in Psychology. I don’t think I’ve missed anything out as I don’t think a technical degree is necessary to work in the industry, which I’ve written about before. The process of getting a degree is an experience, but if you have no interesting in getting one, that’s A OK. If anyone tries to hold your lack of degree against you, give them my details and we can chat about it!

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Like anything, learning to code is difficult. You may spend your entire career thinking you are not good enough. People might even tell you that. You can tell those people to get in the bin. You are good, I think you are awesome. That’s my advice: put the people who bring you down, in the bin.


Extra question from Ute: If you have an entire week, what would you work on?
Answering this question right now I’d have to say I’d work on getting better at playing DOTA 2 (a computer game). I’ve been working 7 days a week pretty much since I started teaching myself to code and I am working on taking more free time for myself. I’d catch up on the books I want to read and the podcasts I listen to.

To answer with a more technology-based focus; I’d spend an entire week working on my side project, which is trying to get people into Open Source and also trying to make OS a better place for new programmers. I’ve got a website to build, guides to write and many other things to do.


Thank you for your honest answers Charlotte, I think you’re truly inspiring! Thanks :)