Role models' Guide
to the digital galaxy

Svetlana Silina

Svetlana Silina

PHP developer/Web development

The job

Short description of the job and the digital sector –  If you ask Wikipedia, Web development is a “is a broad term for the work involved in developing a web site for the Internet“. If you wonder how broad it is, ask Goggle and get over 120 million pages of information, in 0.6 seconds. Google is a fast web site. Wikipedia is a big web site. Online stores where we buy favorite music, gift cards or our next generation nikies for running – are all web sites. 10 years ago people used to wake up with a cup of coffee. Now we start our day with a website: Facebook, personal blog, Instagram, you name it. All those important virtual spots that we can't imagine our life without, are made by someone, like me : )

Position and responsibilities – Currently I am called a PHP programmer. Not entirely sure why, honestly. Because for what we do, I use like 6 programming languages, simultaneously. Not boring, huh.

Day-to-day activities – I make websites. Used to build complex web apps for businesses creating visual designs too. Normally it all starts with a visual  presentation. Very simple at first, just to outline page structure, and it's called wireframe.  After shapes and colors are added, and a sketch starts looking like a normal (or crazy) web page, we script it all into an actual dynamic and interactive web page, with all those buttons, posts and cats pics, and invisible data flowing behind (so called back-end, which rules the buttons, the posts and the cats). When this cocktail is ready, a web developer may take care of a server - the place that serves  pages to users. Not every developer deals with servers, only nerds, like me.

Professional beliefs
What does it take to be successful?

- What is your work philosophy?
I remember times when programmers were gods and no one understood a word of the words that seldom came from their divine mouths. Keeping that image in mind, I try to make it simple for those who I work with. Yes, I talk to machines. But my chief doesn't. Not his fault :)

- What does it take to be successful?
Like every success, a digital one demands your heart and devotion. And that's what makes it easy. My job is very easy to love. Easy to hate too. But any frustration vanishes rapidly the very moment you find your perfect solution and fly through the sky in joy and happiness, being so pleased with yourself, they think you are high or something. Well.. you are : ) Highest level of dopamine possible.

- Does your job make you compromise with something or make sacrifices?
No. Never : ) May be I am lucky. But if I need more time for me or my family I can always go back freelancing.

- Professional / social network
ello.co. I use stackoverflow.com of course, lots of useful information there. Used to make open source stuff and help other coders at wordpress.org.

- Relationship with employees / colleagues / employer
I enjoy coders, they are reasonable, smart and easy people... Is it a trick question? No women discrimination so far : )

- How do you deal with mistakes in your work?
If your team uses the right tool, there's no chance for mistakes. You just code a program that checks your programs. 

Education

Formal education – Linguistic University. I studied theoretical linguistics. That studies how language systems behave. People didn't take me seriously when I announced that I wanted to be a programmer. People think programming stands on math and you need to be a little Euclid or Newton to make stuff work. False. I only took courses on Math because I wanted to see how “big guys” do it. Well, pretty much same as little girls : ) All you actually need is curiosity to watch things in real life. And imagination - to explain how to do them to a machine. And if you totally want or need math, you can always literally re-program your brain, even you were considered an artistic type before (supposedly thinking with the wrong side of the brain). It's a total myth that you have to be born Euclid to go digital.

Courses and trainings - Interaction Design Specialization, Computer Science 50, Programming Methodology, Introduction to Java Programming, Interaction Design, Design Principles, Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization ...

Certificates - IT Security, 3D Printing with Photoshop, Character Animation, Learning GraphQL...

Skills

  • The most relevant skills to perform the job successfully – Speaking of the tech, learn HTML and Javascript. As for the rest, wikipedia is right - web development is a broad term. What wikipedia doesn't mention is that web development evolves very fast. Tomorrow the skills in demand can be totally different. They make new things every day. So I guess the most relevant skill would be to keep learning. You can survive on the same technologies for some time, but then new people come and they make things cooler. 
  • Hard skills – The most relevant hard skill to perform my job is turning a computer on :) No, seriously, I can assemble a computer and pretty much fix a corrupted video card, but I don't need it to make web sites. I have a laptop, just like anyone else.
  • Soft skills – PHP, Javascript, Mysql, HTML, CSS, some design sofware, like Photoshop and Inkscape, if you want to focus on front-end and make beautiful visual things, or server scripting, like for Node.js and Nginx, if you like data. Or both, if you are love both, like me :)

Outside work

Social life –  What  do I do, besides normal fun like hanging out with friends, skyping my mum (she is an artist) and my daughter (who is a fashion photographer), and going to the parties? I love movies, and blue screens, apparently, so I joined a marvelous group that attends movie theaters on Fridays, and then we discuss the show some place nice over food or beer. Every other Thursday I have my writer's group, which is still challenging sometimes. No one speaks my native tongue. I have to translate and practically rehearsal my piece to read. When freelancing I used to sky-run 10-15 km 3 times a week, now not so often, still refreshing. Prague has great hills and almost wild parks, so mysteriously gorgeous you can have a love affair with them. When I have time, I travel, mostly visiting cities. It's very easy in Europe, and I love all urban. 

Charity work, if any – From time to time I volunteer to translate video courses for coders into Russian. Learning on the way : )