Episode 137 – Look for Patterns and Share What You Learn to Cement Your Knowledge with Joe Previte

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Phil’s guest on today’s show is Joe Previte. He is currently working for Digital Air Strike as a Front End Engineer. Previously, he was a Digital Marketing Manager and Web Developer.

He is becoming well known for his video tutorials, which can be found on egghead.io. Joe also writes articles about coding, mainly on the subject of JavaScript. In particular, React, Node, Express, Redux and Gatsby. Recently, he has started to run a local meetup called DesertGraphQL.


(1.03) – So Joe, can you expand on that brief introduction and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Joe explains that when he is not busy working or creating video tutorials he writes articles about coding. For example, he has written articles for Twilio. He is a big fan of this cloud communication platform, which has a great API that enables you to build SMS, voice and messaging solutions.

(1.47) – Can you please share a unique tip with the I.T. career audience? Joe’s unique piece of career advice is not to forget the power of patterns. When he was in college he studied languages and was able to use patterns to help him to quickly learn several of them. For example, 80% of Portuguese grammar is very similar to Spanish.

His advice is to look for patterns when you are trying to learn something new. This particular learning method works really well for programming. Phil agrees taking this approach helps you to tap into the fact that understanding the foundations or the basics of a programming language is pretty much consistent across all the different ones.

When learning Redux, Joe took a piece of code and studying it. He started by changing a few things at a time. In particular, things he was familiar with and thought were likely to be similar to other programs he had already worked with. This enabled him to see how it worked and try out more things that were likely to be the same. Doing this made it easier for him to abstract away the pattern.

(4.16) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. Joe has only been working in the industry for a couple of years. However, he has already been stung by taking someone’s word for something instead of getting it in writing. Someone offered him a front end internship that was supposed to transition into a full-time role. It meant moving from California back to Phoenix.

The guy who ran the company said he could only pay him as a contractor. They agreed he would do 20 hours of paid work and 20 hours as a freelancer. He did this for two months. But, wanted to get an idea of the salary he could expect in the longer term, so asked. His boss said about 50k, which was OK with Joe. The plan was for his boss to put it in writing when he returned from New York. But, when he got back he changed his mind and actually only offered him 30k. For Joe, that was a real low point.

(7.50) – Phil asks Joe to share his career highlight with the audience. Joe is a big fan of Twilio and is active in the community. So, he was delighted when Twilio inducted him into their “Doers Hall of Fame” in 2018. It was great to be recognized by the Twilio team as someone who had made a significant contribution. His Twilio superclass which he ran at a local meetup and online boot camp was very well received by those who took it.

(10.32) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? Even though he is relatively new to the industry Joe is excited by all of the new technologies and languages that are coming through. There is just so much available to learn that it can be hard to know what to study next.

Joe is particularly interested in the potential of GraphQL. He has gone as far as organizing a local meetup group with his co-workers to take full advantage of this data query and manipulation language for APIs.

Phil shares Joe’s enthusiasm for all of these new technologies. He notes that they are providing developers and engineers with the chance to broaden their horizons.

(12.41) – What drew you to a career in IT? For Joe there were two things. He has always had a passion for building things. He would regularly come up with business ideas only to realize that he needed a developer to bring his idea to life. At the time, Joe did not have the necessary skills to do so. In the end he realized that if he wanted to build any of these businesses learning to code himself was the best way to do it. But, training was expensive. So, when he came across a free code camp he jumped at the chance and began his training.

(13.30) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Joe was once told not to tell yourself you are not ready. You should let others do that.

Another way of putting it is ‘don’t self-select’. If you see a job you would love to do, just apply for it. If you do not have all of the qualifications or experience being asked for, do not worry, apply anyway. The worst that can happen is that you do not get the call.

On the other hand, you could get called in for an interview and land your dream job. Joe has got a couple of callbacks and interviews by applying regardless of what is asked for in the job advert.

(14.40) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Joe explains that he would take a different approach to learning how to program.

He would focus more on building projects instead of switching between resources or tutorials. The real learning happens when you apply what you have learned when you build a project that you care about. When you hit roadblocks you are motivated to push through them. This ensures that you learn more and take yourself to the next level.

(15.22) – What are you currently focusing on in your career? Right now, Joe’s main focus is trying to do more developer relations. He wants to create more of a name for himself within the community. Joe wants to get as many people as possible excited about learning new technologies and helping more of them to find the right resources.

He would like to be a general tech developer evangelist. His aim is to be like Wes Bos or someone similar. Joe wants to become a content creator/teacher/educator over the course of the next 5 to 10 years.

(16.27) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? In all the jobs Joe has done so far, good communication skills have proved invaluable.

He also says it is important to learn to speak up sooner rather than later. For example, if you get stuck on a project the sooner you say so and explain the situation the faster you get unstuck and get things finished.

(17.31) – Phil asks Joe to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. Joe’s career advice is to help others. Tell others on social media that your door is always open and be there to answer people’s questions. Doing this benefits you as well as those who you are giving guidance to. You will be surprised by how much you learn along the way when trying to help others.


(2.40) JOE– “When you are learning something new, look for the patterns.”

(9.58) PHIL– “Being recognized by another group or individual is always a great thing.”

(13.49) JOE– “Don’t close doors before they have been opened.”

(15.09) JOE– “The real learning happens when you’re building a project that you care about.”

(14.42) JOE– “When you are learning to code, focus more on building projects rather than switching between resources or tutorials”

(16.17) PHIL – “The ability to then teach other people actually helps you yourself in terms of the way you learn.”


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jsjoeio

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jjprevite/

Website: https://joeprevite.com

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