your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 66: Meet backend developer Ana!

It’s already time for spotlight number 66! Can you imagine? 66 interviews with 66 amazing and inspiring people…I hope you like reading their stories as much as I do :-).  This week we’re going to meet Ana Balica. Ana is a backend developer from London and we share some of the same interests: Python, books and cats! Curious to learn more about Ana and her work days? Read more… 

Name: Ana Balica
Job: Backend developer at Potato London
Favorite website, app or gadget: – great UI to check on time synchronization, timezones, time differences with other locations and a bunch of other time-related stuff – great for timezone geeks.
Favorite book: I struggle to choose between “One hundred years of solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig.
Twitter: @anabalica


What inspired you to pursue a career in IT? I’ll be bold about it: I didn’t have a strong motivation or any inspiration at all to pursue a career in IT. It all started with a choice of a university degree and it was pretty much a gamble. I made a wild guess based on a vague mapping of my high school interests to popular careers at the time, based on my friend’s jobs and their job satisfaction levels, based on local and international market research. I had no idea if I’m gonna like it (luckily I did). And this is ok. It’s ok to sometimes feel lost and struggle with a choice.


What does your working day look like? I like to start work early, as early as possible. From the outsider perspective, I stare at my computer screen, type, stretch or dance a bit with my headphones on if I’m at the standing desk, drink tea, play pool, attend standups and meetings. From my inner perspective, I balance the amount of bug hunting, feature building and code review I want to do today, apply divide&conquer and write checklists for the tickets I work on, make tens of micro-decisions while writing code, learn new stuff, double-check my assumptions with official documentation or source code, be happy I’m doing all this even thought it’s exhausting sometimes. Then I lock my machine, go home and forget about work until the next day (forgetting doesn’t work if I have an unsolved problem though).


What is the coolest project you have worked on and why? I like the project I’m working on currently. It’s written in Python/Django and deployed on AppEngine (classic story at Potato), complex enough and I get to work with very cool people.


Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you? No, no heroes. I’m fascinated by a lot of people, but I find it hard to pinpoint exact sources of inspiration. I assume it comes from everyone: family, friends, teachers, educators, coworkers, random people on the internet.


Why do you love working in  IT/Tech? I challenge myself every day and get to build things that are tangible from the perspective of our modern society.


Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge? I do and I love university. I was very lucky to have fantastic teachers, great classmates and a diverse curriculum: from theoretical courses that taught broad concepts and generic problem solving (Calculus, Design Patterns, Networking) to routine tools and practices of a developer (algorithms, IDEs, git). Along with some open source experience, I felt confident applying for my first job.


What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?) Code every day. There is no magic trick. Practice makes perfect.


Extra question from Jill: If you didn’t do this, what other job would you like to have? I’d be a small-scale farmer, grow vegetables and berries. That said, I’ve never done it before, but I have a feeling I might like it.


“Code every day. There is no magic trick. Practice makes perfect.”