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Ep5 - Transcript

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Kevin Cunningham: From teaching maths to becoming a fullstack developer

Fabio Rosado

Hello. Welcome. Today, I have Kevin he's a former maths teacher, becoming full stack developer at spinup.io, and your business owner, and also a instructor at Egghead. Is that correct?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, yeah i think i think most of the things are true. I think all of those things are free. Yeah. Yeah. Hi, thanks for having me.

Fabio Rosado

Thank you for wanting to be on the podcast. Can you start with your journey so how did you start, how was that going from teaching math to be wanting to be in the developer world. How was that transition or how was that progress.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, so I I taught math for quite a long time, maybe like 12 or 13 years. I taught maths to 11 to 18 year olds, which was great, I love maths and I enjoyed working with young people and helping them to love maths, which was sometimes successful, but it was good. And all the way through that I was coding and doing bits and pieces. The type of, you know, maths and computers tend to be grouped together quite often. And so you know I was coding from 11 with sort of my spectrum. And then on to using different my Amiga and MPC later on. So coding is always kind of been something I've done, and often just play stuff. Teaching is quite exhausting, like being a flight attendant you're on your feet, the whole time and you're engaging with people, the whole time. So it's not like where you can hide behind a screen or, or you can, if you've had a, you've got a bit of a sore head that you can have a quiet day at work, it was kind of no such thing as a quiet day work when it comes to both flight attending and teaching there's, there's always those people to deal with and so I would teach, and I do bits and, and when it got to holidays, I would do sort of learn a new programming language, or I would build an app for something I'd use in school or I'd play around like that.

Fabio Rosado

I would say that, dealing with teenagers, probably takes harder work than being a flight attendant So, props for you,

Kevin Cunningham

I don't know, I've been on planes with with drunk unruly passengers that I wouldn't like to have to manage so I equally I have a lot of respect for what you guys do so yeah but yeah so teaching a is a is a great thing. I love teaching I still teach through egghead and online with my blog and newsletter and various things like that. But, teaching in classrooms, is there's a lot of stuff around teaching in classrooms. If I could sort of imagine just being in a classroom with kids and being in charge with what I'm teaching and how I'm teaching and I'm assessing that and, and all of the pieces there then that would be great, but a around that there's a lot of stuff which is less than fun.

Fabio Rosado

There's all the planning, the observations the paperwork and all this. I know,

Kevin Cunningham

yeah.

Fabio Rosado

I know a little bit of that because my wife she's a teacher but she's an year one teacher. So, I see all the things that she has to do and I'm like yeah they are just babies this fine.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah. And so there's that realism of, you know, the kids, your wife knows the kids in front of her, she knows those kids and has a good idea of what can help them. But we kind of build on our averages we build on like at the end of year one every year one kid should be able to do this or you failed. When reality like my case, my youngest is year two now, no year one now and he refuses to read, he can read but he refuses to, whereas my elders two years older. And you know, was reading fluently before he started school that for us, that kind of different. They're different kids and so being in schools was a bit frustrating because things change, the goalposts move very often curricular changes how you are being judged changed.

Fabio Rosado

Politics

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, lots of politics and education is a horrible political football, you know, every time the government changes policy changes and what's going on changes so it's all, it's not always as fun as it really should be. Um, so yeah, I also had a few mental health issues, and it got to a point where actually being in a classroom was becoming less and less sustainable and healthy for me. So I took some time out, and thought, oh, what am I going to do, because, like, you probably knew from your wife by being a teacher becomes a huge part of your identity, you're a teacher. And that is how everyone knows you as and that's kind of what you your self identity wrapped up and not. So the thought of not being a teacher was actually quite terrifying. Oh, I'm not a teacher anymore, who am I, what am I?

Fabio Rosado

so Is that why you decided to become an egghead instructor, because you've missed teaching, or it was just something that just happened.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, it was kind of quite deliberate in that sense yeah so there's definitely a sense of I got my, sort of, feet under the table of the actually day to day development. And then, okay I kind of see how this is working and I'm doing it and then. But those teaching skills were being exercised. How, can I use those skills in some more way So, yeah, working with egghead has been great. They're an awesome bunch of humans. And yeah, I'm learning lots from them. I'm teaching in a different way, which is great, you know I'm, it's been great.

Fabio Rosado

It's the short beats that makes a huge difference from what you're used to. Is that?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah,

Fabio Rosado

usually the classes are up, up to what I've seen classes, eight minutes by usually they go around five minutes.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah. Yeah, so, you know, I'm my previous teaching experience was managing groups of 30, up to like groups of 100 cuz I work with adults as well, my meeting groups, activities, so a bit of input from me, was creating activities for them to try out their skills and then assessing and I'm sort of that loop continuing a lot of different ways. Egghead has a very clear mission and clear vision I think in terms of it's helping people who are developers stay on top with new technologies and it's trying to make sure that every minute that you give is valuable. So, If you watch a couple of egghead videos you'll notice some time that that they cover things in a very short period of time. And when you watch it in 2x, even shorter, but there's not the: Hi and welcome I'm Kevin and today we're going to be talking about it's right straight in there. and we're talking about what we're doing on that every second of your time is respected. And, you know, I think that's a really awesome aproach to say, I'm not here to tell you about, you know, my, my son's grabbed or fell over on his way to today. I'm not here to tell you about that. I'm here. You're here to learn about how do I use context in my app or how do I want, and you know, you might be in the middle of a problem, and you're dropping in for this three minute video to hopefully give you a head start. So as you can dip back into something else. So yeah, egghead has been really helpful in me thinking through the value of those e bombs or sort of those educational like explosions

Fabio Rosado

make sense. Also, I'm a egghead learner advocate. I think I've been for a month, and I really enjoy the way how the courses are done, I'm just finishing a adventure club for a course from john that's it's all about JavaScript callbacks and closures and the course is very dense. So our job is to make notes to try to help folks, taking that course to understand better what's happening. And it's been fascinating to see that in two minutes, up to five minutes, how much information is there that every... like you said every little, second is just gold and you can just grab and that's it. So it's, yeah it's very very, very cool. And definitely people should definitely look into it.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, definitely.

Fabio Rosado

Do you think that your math background, helped you, when you were doing the coding exercises because you know if you... I'm not sure if you applied for a job before you starting spin up. But, you know, usually when you do an interview. You have to get some algorithm questions some coding challenges. Do you think that that helps you a lot, or.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, it's interesting so when I was deciding to make the transition from teaching. I did do a remote online boot camp called code Institute. They're based out of Dublin. And what I what what the most helpful thing from that was really helping me get the 20,000, foot view. So I'm up in your aeroplane now, because I've spent so many years learning sort of isolated skills when it came to coding. What was really helpful was to get a holistic picture, and to go Oh, that thing I know fits in here and that fits in here. Oh, and that's why they join and that's why that's important. And so, so that was really helpful boot camp was really helpful in terms of giving me a better mental model of what I knew. And what I didn't yet know, which helped me then be able to develop that. And then when I was looking for a job. I was I had been a teacher for a while I was quite well paid, I guess, um, so I what I realised was I was going to take a paid dip quite a dramatic pay dip. In order to make that career transition. And that's what happened there were there were two companies in Brighton, who I was interested in. And the reason I was interested in both of them was looking at their work and how they seem to the values that I was picking up on their websites and, and I met with one of them, and they were clear, we'd love to have you, but we don't have the capacity to get you up to speed from being Junior, you know, we don't have, you know, we need someone who's got more experience that that typical problem of every job needs five years experience but no one will give you the five years experience people to apply for the job. Yeah. So one of those. But thankfully the other company I applied for was a company called call CogAp. Cognitive applications they were originally called they've been around for a long time, like 1980s, this company was founded, and they work with galleries libraries, archives and museums. They work in being able to help those collections, be accessible and interesting how people think about how they can innovatively approach their digital properties as much as they do their online, their in person collections, with with COVID is, I guess even more relevant, thinking about how your how your artwork and your museum pieces are being represented online being experienced and explored online. And that was great. So they took me on as a junior developer on that the interview was largely about. It was a person interview , the programming, the task of helping to to assess my programming skills, was definitely on a was a more conceptual one that was like, How, would you go about designing a system where image was being uploaded and being processed and then being served on the other end. And I wasn't expected to code but more like blocks of this bit would do that then I'd probably use this to do that and it was more it was less a go and implement this and more a. Do you have an idea of what you're doing and what questions you would need to ask the technical director there had something he called the scale of hate, which was a developers were somewhere on the scale of hate. They either asked too few questions, or asked, too many questions.

So, It was good to ask the right questions having tried for yourself a few times a bit for them. I know is there, but they, but they took me on on I wrote PHP, Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and. And that was a lot of fun I learned a lot with them, and they're great people, they probably are hiring cogap.co.uk are a company I would, would highly recommend looking at. After a while I was kind of aware I'd come from teaching. And I'd come to work in the business. And I was really like you're saying about, we were talking was having an employer is a single point of failure. When you come to kind of like any kind of development single points of failure are always dangerous. Um, so I was kind of keen to sort of flex my entrepreneurial skills as keen to explore sort of doing consulting and client work on my own. And so, a friend of mine had started a company called spin up and he was looking for some help. And so, I joined him a year ago, we've been running the company together since then. And, yeah, so we work with businesses, who've got ideas, and we help to get those ideas to be a prototype first idea that they then bring in front of investors or users to test things like to see how things are going. And whether or not they want to invest more time and money in development after that. So yeah so that's a roundabout way of question, or your original question with probably back there. Sorry, sorry.

Fabio Rosado

It's All right.

Kevin Cunningham

You asked, Did my maths help with my coding. I think my maths teaching helped me, accept that complex stuff can be explained simply, number one, and what I know, isn't what isn't what everyone else knows. So what I've got in my brain is what other people have in their brain. So I'm quite good now not assuming anything. And I'm being able hopefully to take complex things and make them as simple as possible, but I think it was Fineman who said as simple as possible but no more. Not simpler than possible but yeah.

Fabio Rosado

And it's very, very interesting because you know it's that's the curse of knowledge, because you know something, you can't really put yourself in the feet of someone that doesn't know that subject. So then for you to be able to make it bite sizes, helps a lot on anything, not only on your egghead lessons, but even just approaching a problem because a lot of times when you are trying to code something you just freeze, because the problem seems to be very complex, and that's what people say just say, Okay, what is the minimum thing you can grab there to try to start working on that problem and solve, little bite sizes problems. So yeah, it makes sense that, that helped you in your career. Um, going back to your beginning, I think, and working at spin up. Do you think that first experience working for a company is extremely important, or do you think that if you have a friend that started a company, or even a friend that wants to do something with as a front end or something like that. Do you think that it's possible to just have no experience working for a company and starting your own company.

Kevin Cunningham

I obviously haven't done that. But what I can. So when I worked with cog gap. I was able to focus on developing and sort of get confident in delivering to clients, working on agile, get confident knowledge and processes of of working in a team of source control of, of all the things in the day to day life of being a developer, I was able to focus on that. And then when I started with spin up. I was then able to be more confident in those skills so I could kind of go right, I'm going to keep growing and those but they're kind of at a base level that I'm happy with. And then I can focus on my entrepreneurial side of acquiring clients, working with clients contracting negotiating that kind of those kinds of things. So, is it possible. Yes, absolutely. Is it playing on hard mode, probably, I i think i think there's more. There are more moving parts, and I'm very keen and minimising risk in some ways, and sort of, I reckon like working with a with a company and especially you know cog app was a great company a small company who really valued staff development, and staff welfare and the projects they worked on and within the pick through were really set the bar quite high. It's meant that, you know, I wasn't like concerned about lots of things that I might have been. But if I was to if I had to start from scratch, which was one of the, which was one of the things in in mind. I wonder if I would have been pricing too low, marketing and the wrong way, that yeah I think there's a lot of. There are a lot of things you have to learn. As a business owner, and a lot of things you have to learn as a developer, and if you can learn one at a time. I think you probably have a bit of a head start, but I also understand that if you want to, like, I knew lots of people have started businesses and have who aren't doing a lot of development themselves anymore, so maybe it's not relevant, maybe they gathering clients and building a team and, and all of those skills. I guess it's what you want to do it I'm I I'm very against the gatekeeping side of things of saying, I don't think you should do it that way. I'm really excited that people try stuff in a different way. But yeah,

Fabio Rosado

and I think it's also trying to figure out what you're good at, and you're strengths and just put it into play and see if it's something that you can use or not. And you'd say that development and building a business are two different things. I also would say that dealing with customers is like a third thing that is a massive thing and it's sometimes can be very hard to first figure out what the customer wants. Second to deliver something that they like. And that is functional. Because sometimes they're like, Oh, I really love bright yellow, and bright green and is like, okay, and my app, or my website, they need to have this colours and you will be like Oh man. How am I supposed to make that work?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah. Yeah. So the reality is that as a, as a dev in a company that some of that works done for you right. So, the acquiring the clients, and then the interfacing with the clients and translating client desires to actual code or projects is handled by a project manager or is handled by a designer and is handled by, and you're given a design on some sort of acceptance criteria, and you build the thing. So yeah, I think you're absolutely right there is that so there definitely that Third thing of interfacing with clients so there's the getting the clients. There's making sure that clients are happy and interpreting their sometimes off the wall desires and requests into something that's useful and unusable.

Fabio Rosado

I think also that's one of the reasons why so many folks are afraid to get the jump into becoming a freelancer, I'm not even saying, build your own company with two other people or another person, but just becoming a freelancer have to deal with customers design everything. And when we were doing this info product challenge, which you can talk about your product a bit. You said, Yeah, when we deal with designs we just hire a designer to do the thing so they don't have to worry about that. Which that's valid and sometimes when we are planning to become freelance we said no I have to do everything. But is it really worth it for you to do everything, or just outsource or something that you know you're not great at it and just play your, your strengths

Kevin Cunningham

absolutely i mean that's, I'm a developer, and I'm not a developer, with a good eye for design either so it's not, I felt like I'm a, I'm someone who's really good at making things look pretty. I can I'm more. I'm more on the back end to middle my business partners more than middle to the front, so I'm definitely someone who needs to design if I'm having any hope of making something look nice and decent and all the rest of that. And so yeah, I mean we, as a, as a company we work with a number of freelance designers, and freelance UX specialists and. And it's that kind of, we don't have the capacity for full time staff but we definitely have, you know, there when we're starting a project when we're thinking about a project. We'll bring in someone to work with us and with a client to be able to to do that because that's a whole another professional skill set, and the expectation that I should be a perfect designer and the perfect developer and the perfect business owner and..., I, I want this, I, you know, I'm a perfectionist I want to do well at stuff but I feel like there's a realism that needs to come in somewhere to go. These are stuff that I'm, I'm good at and some things I'm not good at. So let me as you said lean into the stuff I'm good at

Fabio Rosado

is about the whole, don't try to do things that you know that you're not great, unless you want to do it as a learning experience or something like that. I think I could become better at design if I practice every single day, but I always feel that when I spend more than maybe four hours, designing something in the back of my head I'm like I should be coding instead. So, you, you said that when we were talking or when I asked you the question about if having a job. First, working for someone, as a developer, and then starting. You did say that you you've learned enough, or you felt that you've learned enough that you could do that jump. This is going to be a tricky question so how do you classify knowing enough in development, because everything is always changing and I think especially for a beginner that wants to become a developer, and I felt that, and to be fair, I still feel it to me seems like I never know enough to do that jump yet so it's just something that you did the jump of is it.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah. So, I think I ignoring enough that's interesting so I've been thinking about. So when you were saying about the jack of all trades, master of none. I was thinking about T shaped developer if you heard that phrase before being T shapped, where you have your you've got a broad kind of aware skill set, but it's a bit, it goes deep, like, like the capital letter T

Fabio Rosado

okay

Kevin Cunningham

so like it's that kind of T ship development thing. And I think as I was aware that that development thing was taking down. I was also aware that I could have stayed where I was. And my technical skills would have grown so new stuff would have come along, I would have learned new technologies, I would have got more confident and competent with the technologies I use. I didn't leave cogapp thinking, I know everything. Now I'm going to go and do it myself. What I learned when left cogapp being able to do is be confident with that feeling you have when you first get a problem that says, I have no idea how I'm going to do this. I know that in hours or days, or sometimes weeks. I'll be at the end of that going, Oh, that's how I did that, and I'll be able to do something similar again. So I think what I learned was not necessarily all the skills, but I learned the ability to hold loosely to not knowing something to be able to get to be able to be more confident and saying, okay, sure that's possible. I don't know how I'm going to do it. But I know enough that I know the right questions to ask. And the right places to go, and the right people to go and could you give, could you run your eyes over this a bit as well. So yeah, so how do you know you know enough I think when you're confident that you know how to answer your own questions, or where to go get your answers. When you have that sort of ability to source stuff. And again, I'm really keen not to gatekeep because I don't think there is enough. Our too little. I think there's, there's some people dive into this, with less knowledge than I had, and have stellar careers and do amazing stuff so yeah I never want to say this is my experience and therefore everyone should follow it, but I think if you're able to ask to realise you don't know something, and to be confident that you can learn it. You were saying about to design stuff. If you come across Carl duacs works he's read a lot about mindsets, and in particular a growth mindset, and she talks about the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset and how people who are good at something can have fixed mindsets, which means that they don't have you tell a kid all the time, you're really good at this. And then they don't want to prove you wrong. So they avoid doing hard things where if you tell a kid. You're trying really hard at that, and I can see your effort, they're willing to put in any effort to get better at stuff that they're in they see not good at. And so when it comes to development I think that beginner's mind and that growth mindset that sense of I don't know this, but I know I can get better at this. And when it comes to design. I know, I do have quite a fixed negative mindset about my design. But I also know that I'm confident that if I, if I could invest time to improve that skill. But at the moment, as you're saying, for me, that doesn't feel like the best use of my time. I've just built the thing that interests me most I love learning stuff, but at the moment design isn't on top of the top of the things I want to learn, it's on my list. And I think at some point I'll get there is something I want to get better at, and there are lots of great people around the web who stuff I watch and look at and go wow. Wish I could design so maybe I should go and do something, but at the moment. I feel like I'm trying to get enough skills, improving that, and that one's going to have to wait for a bit longer.

Fabio Rosado

Make sense I knew this was one thing I've noticed on lockdown because I never really had more than two weeks holidays. And we had three months or at least I had three months, staying at home, because I can't do flying from home. So, the first month, I was really focused and I said, this is the things I want to develop this is the things I want to learn. And this is the things that I want to build. And then the other two months, I was just being busy, but all these activities that these tasks that I was working. I didn't really get much value out of them. So I'm sitting here today I'm going to write about something and then I'm going to design something and I'm going to design something and it's starting everything but never finishing anything until I realised Wait a minute, this is just being silly I need to stop and actually focus, and see if what I'm working or what I want to work that day. It's actually good for me is something that I will give me value in the future than just being busy for the sake of being busy Eva asked a question. So how long did it take you to go from teaching maths, to being a developer, and how long from studying to getting your first job.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, so thank you. I'm, I guess. They're, I feel quite ridiculously fortunate and most of that. So I was teaching maths, and I was helping to run the school. And then I, as I said earlier, um, I had some mental health issues, and being in a classroom just became less and less possible. And I have been coding kind of all the way through. So from when I was 11 doing bits and pieces, but nothing serious and nothing is taught in the classroom and did a bit of teaching for it and with it, but nothing I was actually getting exchanging time for money, I wasn't being paid to code. And then I did a online boot camp called code Institute. And I looked at Free Code Camp because it was around at that time, and I choose not to do that. I can't remember why I think it was that. I felt like if I was paying for something, I would be held more accountable. In my own mind, I'd hold myself more accountable. That seems like a silly way to do things. But I think that's true of a lot of people. There's something that I have paid for this. So I should do it. As opposed to I signed up for this. And there's something shiny over there. I'm going to go look at that thing. I

Fabio Rosado

I think I read some somewhere that actually the fact that you paid for something actually makes you want to do the thing. If it's free, people tend to just not keep on going and finish off. So I think you have absolutely right there.

Kevin Cunningham

Yep. So I did that. And I actually started the boot camp in September. And I have my first job as a developer and starting in January. So

Fabio Rosado

Quite fast yeah.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah. So I was really fortunate. It was really lucky. They were looking for someone. They had space for junior. They were local. So Yeah, I was very fortunate. I'm very aware of that. So yeah. And yeah, I didn't have to do any of the big whiteboarding stuff and things. Yeah, it's so yeah, I feel like I, I played that bet on easy mode.

Fabio Rosado

Yeah, sometimes you just need things to align properly. And that's it. And it seems to me that in your case, it did align properly. Although, like you said, you did have to take the pay cut, which to a lot of people that can be already something that people are not really want to do.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, yeah, we we took as a family, we took a 50% pay cut,

Fabio Rosado

which is a lot.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, so yeah. And, you know, that was, you know, we're probably back where we were before I left teaching Now, which is great. And that was, you know, it took it took a number of years. But that was almost the continued investment in my developer education was to kind of pay cut, I guess.

Fabio Rosado

Other than the money. Was there anything else that was hard to do that transition from teaching to development?

Kevin Cunningham

people would ask me what, oh, you must really miss teaching? And I would, I would get quiet for a minute, because I think I should really miss teaching. And I think, oh, oh, no, no, really, actually, what? So I realised after moving out of teaching how much of an introvert I am, and how much I was kind of forcing myself to be extroverted to be in a classroom. So I realised that. And so I was able to adjust things. I... my mental health who improve my physical health improved, I had more time at home with my kids, even though I had less holiday, when I got the holiday, I needed it last because I wasn't as exhausted to dine, and I wasn't this sort of I, in teaching, like I imagined in flight crew, you run on adrenaline a lot, you just have to keep going and keep going and keep going. There's kind of, there's no ladder up. And so when it gets to a brick, you kind of crush, you know, oh, I needed that break so much. I'm so that would be so at the start of my career. Like it would take me a couple of days in a teaching holiday to recover on that would get longer and longer. It would take sort of weeks and weeks. But yeah, we would as a family, we would know that the first week of any holiday, we wouldn't plan anything because I would be in bed sleeping, or really grumpy. By the end, by the end of that first week, then we could do stuff together.

Fabio Rosado

I have to say I'm sort of in the same shoes as you because I think I've been realising is that I am an introvert as well, which is very weird because at work, I don't think that through, unless I do this very long days where I'd like 12 hours, days. And after working a week, that first day I'm completely exhausted and I don't want to do anything. Because it's just you know exactly how it is being a teacher. It's you don't realise how much it takes out of you being with people every single time. So the only difference is, in your case, teaching is not only physically tiring, but very mentally tiring. Whilst In my case, I barely use my brain and this is this is a fact. It's very physical challenging because the shift work and sometimes I have to wake up at two in the morning. other times five in the morning doesn't matter. But yeah, my body's tired. And I feel drained. But my brain is like, Alright, I can do stuff. Let's do stuff. And that was at least in my case. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to learn how to code. Because I had that passion to learn how to code and do stuff with code. And I felt that I need to do something to make my brain not dumb, if that makes sense. Because it was something like, I tended to stay at home on my days off, and I was recharging, like, you're recharging as well. But I would maybe read a book or play PlayStation. I did spend a lot of time playing PlayStation. And I was like, yeah, this is not the best time or the best way to use my time. So I need to do something that actually challenges my brain and makes me think through. So yeah. So you do a very interesting thing, which I found out today, when I was doing a little bit of research. You do... you set up? You set your calendly. I think that's how you say it calendly? I guess so. And you do one hour pair programming with people that's interested. And I love that idea. And I, I want to book a slot as well. Because it seems really cool. Can you just say how, how was that? Why did you decide to start doing that?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, so.

So obviously, we talked about like, this teaching experience. And I really love teaching. And one of the things that I have trouble with, sometimes I think about egghead and content creation is, so there's kind of two, there's two kind of two threads of it. So there's the content creation stuff, I sometimes not sure what to do, until I see those, those mentoring sessions or those pair of coding sessions. Often I leave with a list of videos then to go and create a list of blog posts to write based on the conversations I've had with with someone that we've tried to solve a problem. Eva is being mean...

Fabio Rosado

I'm going to ask about closure, I am curious now.

Kevin Cunningham

And the other side is that Yeah, I love teaching, I love chatting. And when I love sort of working together on the problem. And my colleague, and I do that a lot, my business partner and I will will often pair code something. But also I not working with juniors or not learning with other a wider pool of programmers anymore. And so I really enjoy getting another perspective on code and sort of having my perceptions challenged to be able to do that. So yeah, I have done it a few times. I've worked with four people who've signed up and we've had hour long sessions. And yeah, I'm really happy. I put out sort of individual one shot links for for people to sign up and add a calendar event. And often it's it's, it's a problem they're working on and just want to some people call it rubber ducking my last company called a cardboard Superman. So being Cosmo Superman, so like being a superhero, but just being made of cardboard. And yeah, just doing that or like trying to tackle the problem together or learn something new together. I just love that process. Yeah. So yeah, if anyone watching or listening wants to jump on, I normally tweet about it a few times a month. So yeah, grab a slot, and we'll come come and talk about

Fabio Rosado

Since you talk about that. And this is something I I'm starting to ask the guest at the end. But if people wants to get going back to do what is the best place and where to do it.

Kevin Cunningham

Yep. So I'm on Twitter at dolearning. And my website is KevinCunningham.co.uk and you can sign up for my newsletter there. But yes, I do a weekly newsletter, tweet. And I do I try to blog about the stuff I'm... like videos I'm recording on egghead, but yeah, there's other bits and pieces. But yeah, we'll also

Fabio Rosado

put the link on the description of the episode. So closure what's the story there?

Kevin Cunningham

so Eva I we're in a book group, where we read a book called seven languages in seven weeks or six languages in six weeks, some number of languages and some number of weeks.

Fabio Rosado

If I remember correctly, I think it was seven. Yeah,

Kevin Cunningham

seven. Yeah. Okay, cool. And Eva just confirmed that it was great. So we spent the week we went away read the chapter. We learned to buy the language. And we came back we chatted about a one of the things that and all the languages were really fascinating. I hadn't coded in any of them, really. None of them professionally. And Ruby was the only one I've encountered in any sort of way before. Although this is really interesting, but one of the things that Prince on Eva really pushed us towards thinking about. Prince. From party corgi, Maxcell Maxcell on Twitter,

Maxcell yea

Maxcell on Twitter, one of the things Eva and Prince both on the first week, I think our second week really targeted us on was thinking about the community that was behind each language.

Fabio Rosado

Sorry,

Kevin Cunningham

I'm thinking about both. That's Okay. and thinking about like, how much support there was for pick a clear language, what was the feeling you got, by sort of dipping into the community of learning that was that was around that particular programming language. And some of them were great. And some of them were last great. Some of them, this book was about 10 years old, or is about 10 years old. And so some of those communities some of the languages, which is a kind of come to their end, and wasn't much around closure was community that that was near the end was the second to last chapter. And it was near the end. and it was as a community, I felt like I was really interested in excited by on while we were doing I find I came across a thing called closure fam, which is a learning group, like a egghead adventure clubs, I guess. But it's a commitment over 35 days to do something in closure. And by the end of it, it's sponsored, or it's set up by Athens research. If you've heard all based like, open source version of Rome research, which is like a public note thing going on, the idea is that by the end of the set, the 35 days or the seven weeks, you will have made a pull request to the Athens code base, which is written in closure to your learning closure in cohorts. Much like if you're familiar with Kent C Dodds, he's doing cohorts and things like that.

And to having that team working on side learning in public, like, like swix talks about a lot of that learning and public stuff. And yeah, I really enjoy working in closure I got to day 30 I haven't had a PR accepted yet. But I got distracted by other shiny things

Fabio Rosado

That's the bane of any developer existence.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah But I'm really I'm I do have in my head that one of our team who you might know from egghead, Ian Jones, he he's a developer at egghead, and he's had a PR request accepted and merged into the Athens code base. So he's got the head start on that one. But I'm keen, I'm keen to do as well.

Fabio Rosado

Did you share the tweet? Or did you tweet something about it? Because I remember reading something about the Athens research. So I'm not sure if it was you that shared something?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah. So I was like, I was tweeting each of the days in each of the learning days. So with the Twitter thread, on a few others, we're doing not jsjoeio, Joe was doing as well.

Yeah, so there's kind of two but there, there are four of us from egghead. And this cohort of six or seven, so we kind of we kind of overwhelmed them with our egghead excitement.

Fabio Rosado

We got a question. But we, you already sort of explained your your journey. So the question is, how do you deal with the experience requirement for a full stack developer? And most postings require upwards to five years?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah,

Fabio Rosado

but you already said that. You look quite lucky that they didn't really ask you five years experience. And you also found a junior position, which tends to be hard to find nowadays. Do you have anything else to add to that question?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, I mean, I guess the company here commit who who are able to recognise your capacity to learn and grow is a thing to look for, if you're trying to find a role and not kind of sense. I think, what I find that if looking, and Sir. Peanuts, talks about the five years of experience, and if you look at any post, even Junior, posts, they tend to list every possible technology you could possibly think of. And that feels somewhat overwhelming. I think there's a disconnect between what people are posting the jobs or are thinking and what people who are reading the jobs are thinking, because I think that people that are your posting the jobs often don't expect you to do all those things, but will expect you to know some of those things, and have the capacity to learn the things you don't know, in situ as quickly as possible. I think there's that like having that ability. having that ability to demonstrating what you do know, and demonstrating your ability to get up to speed as quickly as possible, and to learn. And I think the reality is that being a developer is by constantly learning, because knowing PHP now does not mean you're going to know PHP in six months or a year as they moved to PHP 8. And things start to look a bit more like Java, or you know, doing JavaScript. You know, if you were to you know, if I said I knew JavaScript, I'm just used vars all run into this now. We get picked up in code review, and that people would ask questions about that, you know, why am I not using const and let? Why am I not using my list comprehensions?maps, filters reducers? Why am I not using the stuff that's in the language now. And so if I, five years ago said, I knew JavaScript and switched off, or I know a particular programming language and switched off, reality is that list of things is what is not real, because that's changes, you can't expect everyone to new, be up to date on everything all the time, you can expect if you can expect to based on some things, and a capacity and a willingness and a desire to learn, and to move forward and the other things and it's

Fabio Rosado

what you said is also knowing that you don't know something, but knowing how to get the answer. Eva mentioned that on her episode where when she was starting, they say read the documentation. But as a new person, starting reading the documentation, you can get very lost, very quickly. After you have that experience, you can find things easier, you can go to the documentation. And because you probably read a few bit of documentation yourself, you already know how to navigate documentation, which that's a skill in itself. Sometimes documentation is so badly written or organised that it takes another effort to try to figure out Did you had to deal with any imposter syndrome whilst doing the change?

Kevin Cunningham

I think I was really clear and upfront. This is all new. So I think I was kind of led off a bit there. book. It's called apprenticeship patterns, with iPhones super helpful. And it's a pattern language for learning how to mix the point that just reading documentation isn't isn't great. But but things like they talk about breakable toys. Like what is the thing I could make? that reflects this, like you were talking like we were talking about earlier, what's the smallest possible problem. But if I'm learning this codebase, what an adjacent problem that's small that I could solve, that would tell me what this code base is actually trying to achieve. Or like, and they talk about different things you can do in terms of mentoring yourself, and looking for mentors or working alongside or not how to read documentation in a way that useful like we are those different bits and pieces. So in terms of impostor syndrome, I think I think I all I feel like just all the time in general of reality. Yes, they are. But often it's over other kind of you don't you don't really know who I am, you think I'm this person, but that's not really who I am. And I think it's often that kind of thing. Yeah, that's just a reality. I'm a very privileged, white, cis male. And that means I get to step into situations. And I'm a native English speaker. And I've got I, I've got a lot of privilege, that means that the people assume the best often. Yeah. And so I recognised I have a huge advantage there. That I don't take lightly. So So yeah, so in terms of imposter syndrome, I guess, I've always been okay, with not knowing the answer to stuff, and not feeling like I'm a useless human being as a result of that. But being confident that I can find the answer and be able to give me enough time and enough resources, I'll be able to hopefully learn nothing. But yeah.

Fabio Rosado

And so I got two questions to finish off, because we said that will keep under one hour. What does your day usually look like?

Kevin Cunningham

So I, in my shed at the moment, friend of mine, Taylor from egghead called it in my shed quarters, which I'm stealing. I'm currently in my shed quarters. And I work a four day week. So I work Monday through Friday. And I've two small boys who are normally awake by by 6:30. So I get up at 5:30. And read, do some exercise, do some stuff, and do some writing. And then the boys then tend to get up. And then I will hang out with them. And I'll come to my shed headquarters and by 8am and I'll tend to be here from it till 4:30 or five. And I'll take during lunchtime I'll have a 15 minute nap on a power naps are amazing. I couldn't have those in a classroom, but I highly recommend working from home and having power naps is absolutely great. I was doing that pre COVID. So you know, I don't have to have a that's great and during the day, so generally we have five or six clients ongoing. I'll generally have a block of a half day or a full day working on an individual client project. I might have meetings with clients to talk about what happened, what's coming up to deliver to think about what's next. And we have our company stand up. There's three of us at the moment. slack and I'll tend to have slack open all day. I'll tend to jump in to help Where my colleagues are stuck, or if I'm stuck I'll ask for help, we'll jump on a call. And yeah, so it's generally quite heavily code. So it's good for me, I tend to, you know, most of my days writing code, and some, the rest of the day is either helping others write code, or working alongside clients to be able to get their specifications and understand understand that, um, some of its new business, so talking to people who might someday be a client, so that kind of stuff as well.

Fabio Rosado

Okay.

Kevin Cunningham

And that kind of stuff and sometimes I get interviewed on podcasts.

Fabio Rosado

Yeah.

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah.

Fabio Rosado

Do you have any? Well, I just thought about another question. So I try to be quick. Do you have any way to manage your tasks? Do you like Trello boards? to do lists or the million ways?

Kevin Cunningham

Yeah, so so for clients we have. So we tend to ask them about their systems. So when we use those, so I mean, for some clients, we use Trello. For some we use notion, for some we'll use an App productive, which is a time management and time tracking. So we'll have that. But for me, I'm an Emacs user. So I start, I start my day with a to do list of Emacs, I clock on each task, which then tells me how long I've spent on it and clock off it. and I work through, I tend to end the end of the day, a lot any tasks, I want to make sure I hit the next day. And I do that for my notes, I keep on top on top of all my other things as well. So I keep on top of my egghead calendar, my content stuff, and I'm working on projects or products for it to have spin up as well.

Fabio Rosado

Awesome. And to finishes off, if you were looking at yourself when you were 16. Now, what piece of advice would you give yourself, man?

Kevin Cunningham

Oh man, soI know another part of my story is that when I was 16, I was planning on being a Catholic priest. I spent, I spent two years from 18 to 20, in seminary training to be a Catholic priest. So I would probably advise myself not to do that. So that was probably the first thing I would suggest. But I guess, like you're saying about your three months, where the first month you plan something, and then the next two months, she kind of just did fun things, and then you say anything over there. I think I'd encourage myself to spend more time on finishing stuff off to get better at finishing stuff off earlier, to take me longer to learn that skill set. Sir Peanuts just asked how would I approach about portfolio projects. for employers. I'm just going to quickly I if you don't follow Colby Fayock, on Twitter, on FreeCodeCamp and all around the place. You should. But Colby is just a couple of months ago put out a free ebook called 50 projects for react developers or front end developer type thing. And in there are 50 great ideas if you had sort of four or five or six of those built out, where you can show the logic and the code. And yeah, that would be I think that would be it make an epic portfolio because I think people say go build stuff. And then that's a full stop at the end of that sentence.

So I think I think colbys project of the 50 react projects.com is an amazing tools. I'm pointing everyone towards that, which is great.

Fabio Rosado

I got the book. I haven't looked at it properly yet, but I would definitely recommend that as well. We managed to do it under one hour. Thank you so much, Kevin for taking the time today to stop and have a talk with us.

Kevin Cunningham

My pleasure thanks for having me

Fabio Rosado

I have so many other things that I'd like to ask you. So maybe in the future, we need to come back to it if you're alright and do more questions, even the whole wanted to be a priest. There's a lot of interesting things that we can talk to you most of because I work with someone a friend of mine, he followed the same path and then he decided that he wanted to change, you know, but that's not really tech related. Thank you so much, and I hope you have a good Thursday.

Kevin Cunningham

Thanks. Thanks, Fabio. Thanks, everybody else. Talk to you soon.