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The Interviewed: Kamil Ogórek, Senior Client-side Engineer

by Jakub Dobranowski on August 26, 2014
Published in The Interviewed Add Comment

When there is a problem, there is a solution. In XHTMLized we often say: if there is a solution - Kamil has it.

Today we would like to share the first episode of The Interviewed with you. Under this name a series of conversations will be published on our blog. Conversations with developers, project managers, operational staff – and other spirits performing various roles in XHTMLized.

If you are interested in glancing at our backstage and having a deeper understanding of our work’s nature, or simply wish to know some of us better – we invite you to read on.

Behind a code – there is a person. Behind a person – a story.

When there is a problem, there is a solution. In XHTMLized we often say: if there is a solution – Kamil has it.

Senior Client-side Engineer, Kamil Ogórek, conjures his front-end magic for X-Team and XHTMLized. Passionate drummer and sports-lover, the guy to whom we reach for answers when questions pop up between the lines of code.

Jakub Dobranowski: When did the passion for code begin? Have you dreamt to be a developer since you laid your fingers on the computer’s keyboard for the first time, or maybe you had different aims that would eventually lead you to where you are at the moment?

Kamil Ogórek: It’s not that easy to tell, however I’m pretty sure it all started about 10 years ago, when I was 13. I always had a knack for computers – I was the guy who fixed all computers in the neighbourhood. Why have I become a developer? Economics. What was the easiest way for a teenager to get some money for his hobbies, you ask? Internet is the answer. I started like most of the people. Basics of HTML4, table layouts, iframes, DHTML and XHTML…

Then I just worked my skills up, from project to project. After about 7 years of doing strictly user interfaces, I simply had enough and decided that I need something more challenging, as well more rewarding, that’s why I started to learn JavaScript more in-depth. Currently I’m focused on client-side applications, performance, workflow automation and whole “software craftsmanship” aspect of our job.

JD: Are there any passions, interests that had a great impact on shaping your career as a developer?

KO: Maybe not anything in particular, but being a strong individualist I always was determined to chase after better and better opportunities, to climb the ladder of success. I’m a follower of well known saying: “If you need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.” I simply knew that if I want to get somewhere in my life and become independent, mostly in financial aspect, then I’ve to be smart enough, have enough knowledge so I’ll be able to earn money with my skills instead of depending on someone else.

JD: A bold personality flashes through the given brief. Are such vibrant character traits necessary to be successful in the world of web development? What does the ‘success’ related to this job mean to you?

KO: No, not necessary, however it’s good to be a “defined” person with a strong personality – it helps you to create your outer image and that’s the thing that lets you climb that ladder.

There are three possible ways you can end up in development world. You can be a true craftsman, following all “Software Craftsmanship” manifesto’s points. You can be someone very successful in terms of your monthly paycheque, but without a huge knowledge – I know such people, it’s just a matter of good “selling” skills, where what you sell are not your skills, but your “created image” instead. Or you can be a regular developer, hired in a company just working to get some money – without any deeper purpose in doing that. I believe in combining the first two options. Being successful, but ONLY thanks to my own developed craftsmanship skills.

JD: What kind of obstacles one must be ready to face in the pursuit of such goal? Any suggestions of how one needs to tune themselves in order to remain on the surface of this ever changing, ever evolving realm?

KO: You need to have tough skin and don’t listen to people who are saying any negative thing, just ignore them. Community itself is not as friendly as you’d think. It is, but only partially, therefore you’ve to find your own place in it and look for the people that want your success as much as you do. Not to mention that web development world is really, really wide right now. It’s very hard to just jump into it and start coding. Even though there’re online schools, courses and so on, variety of tools, libraries, frameworks and languages may be overwhelming and pull you down to the very bottom pretty quickly.

There’s only one way to stay up to date – be dedicated, focused on your goal and be aware that free time you spent learning, reading and reimagining yourself won’t go in vain and you’ll be rewarded for it sooner or later.

JD: What would you say are the hardest, the most challenging parts of your job? Is it the code that throws the highest obstacles under your feet (fingers…?), or maybe the cooperation with your colleagues scattered around the world causes the biggest challenges?

The hardest part is keeping up to date with new technologies

KO: The hardest part is definitely keeping up to date and chasing new technologies created day by day, it’s simply really time consuming – that’s why I always recommend to focus on one specific thing and be very good at it. Code is simple, people are not. You can always educate yourself more and more to get your knowledge up to a point that solving any kind of problem won’t be that hard. However, you’re not able to change people and yet you can work with them and cope with all their weaknesses. Everyone is different, therefore you’ve to be really good at working with various of different characters, personalities and their habits/routines.

JD: How is it to work with the team of developers that are not located in one place, instead work on the same piece of code from the different corners of the Earth?

KO: There’s not as huge difference as you might think. Most of the work is done through code itself, therefore the only thing that you might “miss” from your “office job” is talking to people in person, and by that I don’t mean face-to-face, because you can achieve it using Skype, Hangouts and plenty other services. On the other hand it’s a great privilege to work with those people as you are able to get to know their culture, as well as you’re just earning friends all over the world to whom (who knows!) you may travel in a future and spend great time in their country, where they’d be your personal guide.

JD: You don’t work regular nine-to-five shifts, but rather manage the job time on your own. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such flexible schedule? Does it require a lot of self organization? Is it for everyone?

KO: I don’t work nine-to-five shifts, indeed, however I still try to. Why? Because it’s just more convenient to do so. I’m not the best person to talk or ask about time management – I suck at it. But! I’m working on it and I recently managed to start getting up early, around 6am everyday for a month, for me that was hell of an achievement! And I’ll try to make it as my daily routine when I get back from vacations.

The biggest advantage is of course that you can work anytime and wherever you want, but on the other hand it’s the biggest disadvantage as well. If you’re not organised, you’ll end up working late nights, getting tired week after week and you’ll want to just drop everything and start again from scratch. Although if you’re certain that you’ll be able to make yourself follow any kind of schedule (I don’t say that it has to be 9-5), it might be a solution for you. But if you’d rather prefer to get up, go to office and not think about your work after 5pm, I’d not recommend it.

JD: Thank you for sharing such great piece of personal experience, Kamil! Any final word for those who have just began or are yet going to begin their journey as a web developer?

KO: Work on your good name, count on yourself, spend time learning and be engaged in what you do as a professional. Buy Uncle Bob’s videos and read Software Craftsmanship Manifesto. And last but not least – aim to be a guy to whom people are coming for answers, not other way around.

JD: Thanks! /five!

KO: /five!

About the author

Jakub Dobranowski

Kuba Dobranowski worked as a Quality Controller for Xfive in 2013-2015. He currently works as a Developer Unleasher at X-Team.

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