Episode 35 – Learn, Build and Teach with Kent C Dodds

 In Podcasts

Kent C Dodds is a full stack JavaScript engineer at PayPal whom he represents on the TC39, which is the committee that evolves JavaScript. Kent is actively involved in the open source community with over 100 published npm packages and a contributor on many more. He is also an Egghead.io instructor, Frontend Masters instructor and Google Developer Expert. Kent is happily married and the father of four kids. He likes code, cares about craft, design, tools and architecture.

In this episode Kent tells us that there’s no shortcut to gaining experience and you should try to lear, build and teach to develop your skills. Kent also talks about why building a social media following can benefit your career and why you should always be kind and considerate to others.

Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:54) – Phil introduces Kent C Dodds

(01:37) – Kent says that the most important thing to him is his family whom he lives with in Utah

(01:55) – Kent tells us that he graduated from Brigham Young University about three and a half years ago

(02:04) – Kent is working for PayPal and, “totally loving it” working remotely from home


(02:15) – Unique Career Tip: Kent says that he tells a lot of beginners that there’s no short cut to experience

(02:33) – Kent attracts a lot of beginners which he believes maybe because he is kind of a beginner himself

(02:42) – There are ways to increase the impact of the time you put in by consuming information

(03:01) – Then build things using the information and knowledge you have acquired

(03:10) – To solidify your understanding you should then teach about them

(03:15) – Kent believes that this is the best way to accelerate your experience and increase the impact of the time you put in


(03:29) – Worst Career Moment: Kent talks about being invited to speak at a number of conferences

(03:53) – Most of these conferences he had accepted before he had joined PayPal

(03:59) – His manager at PayPal began to get a little concerned because Kent was unavailable to work one day in every five

(04:17) – Kent made the mistake of complaining public on Twitter that he could only go to one conference each quarter

(04:32) – Kent’s Twitter followers reminded him that it was a privilege to go to just one conference in a year

(04:42) – Kent says that he took a step back and realised that he shouldn’t have complained. He then posted a blog post to apologise to his team mates and PayPal for his Tweet

(05:10) – This put things back into perspective for Kent and he knows how privileged he is

(05:30) – In the past year Kent has only attended conferences where he didn’t need to stay overnight


(06:16) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Kent talks about getting his job at PayPal

(06:44) – It’s what gave Kent the opportunity to work from home for a company where he is having a really big impact

(06:53) – Kent was working at another company where he was getting restless and ready to move on

(07:19) – Kent mentioned on Twitter a JavaScript feature for the React framework and somebody Tweeted at him from PayPal suggesting Kent could join his team

(07:39) – At the time Kent had a job offer from Facebook which he was going to turn down because he would have had to relocate to California

(08:00) – PayPal already had a distributed team so, after the interview process, were able to make remote working possible for Kent

(08:37) – For Kent, having a Twitter following was really useful

(08:48) – There’s a lot to be said for marketing yourself and giving people a reason to follow you on social media

(09:05) – You can be the best developer in the world but if nobody knows who you are or what you do you will miss out on a lot of opportunities


(09:56) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Kent says that when he was a kid, getting into I.T. was difficult

(10:25) – Learning and getting into I.T. is now far more accessible

(10:34) – Kent likes to make things more accessible which is why he spends a lot of time blogging and writing open source libraries

(10:52) – Kent says that he is also excited by augmented reality and virtual reality because they are such interesting technologies. He believes that they will make a huge impact on the way we interact with technology

(11:42) – Kent also mentions self-driving cars and them becoming more accepted


(12:13) – The Reveal

(12:18) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “The only thing standing between me and solving the problem is my time and will”

(12:49) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “What really matters is how well your code communicates to the people who are going to maintain or come back and read it later”

(13:32) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”Consume, build and teach”

(14:15) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “Building my skills”

(14:56) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “To be able to communicate and market yourself”


(15:54) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Kent says that probably the number one most important thing you can do is be kind to other people

(16:13) – Everybody you interact with is going through different things and not all of it is good

(16:20) – Give people the benefit of the doubt because some people are new to the technologies and you should be welcoming and interested in them

(16:38) – You can get so much further in life by developing meaningful relationships


3 Key Points:     

  1. There’s no short cut to experience but you can make the time you put in effective
  2. Market yourself and give people a reason to follow you on social media
  3. Be kind and considerate to others and develop meaningful relationships


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