your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 35: Erika Heidi

Time for Spotlight number 35! Are you excited? :) This week we’re going to meet Erika Heidi, I had the honour to see her speak at Girls in Tech NL and I’m very happy that she wants to share her story with us. Thank you Erika! 


About Erika
Erika is a web developer / devOp working with PHP and Linux for over a decade. Author of the Vagrant Cookbook and open source projects like and , she worked many years as an independent developer, experimenting with a large diversity of projects and tools. Erika is an active open source contributor and speaker, working as technical writer for DigitalOcean.

Name: Erika Heidi
Job: Technical Writer at DigitalOcean
Favorite website/app/gadget: Pebble (gadget)

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I never thought I would be in IT when I was a little kid. What led me to this career was an early experience with programming, in my school. That changed everything. When I realized we could build intelligent things out of lines of code, I knew I wanted to work with that in the future, but it was still very unclear to me at that time if programming would ever be a viable profession. I’m glad Internet came and computers became so popular!


What does your working day look like?
I do a lot of different things, but mainly, I write. I do a lot of research and tests in order to write good tutorials, but I also dedicate some time to work on side projects and initiatives created by DigitalOcean, like Hacktoberfest. In my free time I work on open source projects.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I’m currently super excited about dev-human, a side project I built to bring together developers and start discussions around subjects that are not technical. I see many people in the IT scene underestimating “soft skills” and acting like they would like to be robots, only interested in technical content and simply ignoring the ecosystem around it. That’s why I created dev-human. I recently launched a new website where anyone can submit articles and contribute, and it’s all open source.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
I don’t believe in “heroes”. My inspirations come from many different sources, people in my daily life, other developers, speakers, writers, family… I think everybody has something unique from which we can learn and find inspiration.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I love to see how the things we use daily work behind the scenes. And ultimately, I love that I am able to create things that are smart and have behavior, out of just an idea in my mind.Programming is magical, there’s no other activity like this. I see programming as a very special type of art


Programming is magical, there’s no other activity like this. I see programming as a very special type of art.

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 don’t. I quit my IT graduation when I was about half-way, because that definitely didn’t work out well for me. I am a firm believer that the education system is essentially flawed, and the time and dedication spent to get a degree (at least in our field) can be much better applied in real-world practice – for *some* people, at least, me included. Standardized education can be extremely hurtful for creative individuals, limiting their boundaries and dictating what and how they should learn.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
I’d say go for it! These are wonderful times to start a career in tech, we have so many resources online, specially for learning how to program. Everything is more accessible, and the culture, in general, is getting better. We have Codecademy, Coursera, and other nice places with free and well-structured online courses. But one thing is important: don’t isolate yourself. Get involved with your community, try to contribute to open source projects, join a local meetup group. This is one of the things that changed my career completely in a short period of time.

Extra question from Ute: Which book will you read next?
“The Elements of Style”, to improve my writing.