Episode 150 – Learn to Say Yes to the Right Career Opportunities with Nader Dabit
Phil’s guest on today’s show is Nader Dabit. He is currently a Developer Advocate at AWS.
Nader started his career as a front end web and software developer. Later, he moved into the field of consulting, focusing on providing in house training for clients like Amazon, American Express, Indeed and ClassPass.
Over the years, he has worked with numerous languages and platforms. But, his specialist area is React Native. Nader is the creator of Reach Native Elements, the Host of React Native Radio and the author of React Native in Action. He is also an international speaker and an active open source contributor.
(00.54) – So Nader, can I ask you to expand on that brief intro and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Nader responds by explaining that he has been a Developer Advocate with AWS for a little over a year. Before that, he worked on the front end. He then moved into consulting and training, working directly with the client.
He is best known for his work with React Native. But, he is specifically interested in cross-platform application development. In particular, things like Ionic, Flutter and React Native.
(2.13) – What drew you to Amazon? Nader explained that he liked their philosophy and was impressed with some of the products they were due to roll out. So, he was keen to jump on board. He was especially interested in the benefits of being able to build cross-platform using a single language. Plus, he realized that React Native was going to be important. So, he really wanted to get involved with that, as soon as possible. Taking the position he was offered with AWS was almost a no brainer.
(3.00) – Can you please share a unique career tip with the I.T. Energizer career audience? Nader says that consistently creating and sharing new and original things has really helped him with his IT career. That can be in the form of blog posts, working on open source projects or building on something other people have done.
Taking this approach draws attention to you as a developer. Positive attention, plus, it pushes you to learn at a faster rate. It forces you to dig deep.
Phil concurs, he has noticed that the more you create the easier the creative process becomes. It is like exercising a muscle.
(4.30) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. That happened when Nader started his programming career. He took a job in LA without meeting anyone from the company and moved there with his family. Unfortunately, just one month later they fired him. By then, Nader had sold the family home, moved all of their stuff to LA and taken on a lease.
(5.30) – Are you able to go into why you felt it didn’t work? Nader thinks that, without realizing it, he had taken a job that he did not have the right level of experience for.
It was his first IT job, so he misjudged what he was capable of, at that stage of his career. He was working with a phenomenal team, the best he had ever come across, so keeping up was just impossible.
On the plus side, he learned a huge amount in the month he spent working with them. Applying what he had learned there helped him to find another job. He was working again within a month of being fired.
(6.34) – I assume it changed your approach in terms of the way you look for and evaluate opportunities. Nader says it has. Now that he has a better understanding of his skill set, it is far easier for him to work out if he is a good fit for a particular role.
(7.38) – What was your best career moment? Getting deeply involved in React Native from an early stage has been great for his career. He made sure he became well known in that field. Mostly, through blog posts, Nader demonstrated his in-depth knowledge of React Native and helped others to learn it.
So, when a couple of years later it went mainstream and demand for training soared, Nader was in the perfect position to land some huge contracts.
His first big contract was for Amazon. They bought his time for several weeks. It paid well and gave his career a big boost.
If Nader had not dedicated himself to learning React Native and sharing his knowledge, he would not have been able to enjoy working in the very lucrative sector of consulting training. He went on to work with companies like Microsoft, American Express and Salesforce.
(9.30) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? The fact that the industry is now building things that are easy to scale means we can potentially reach millions, sometimes billions, of people with our tech. AWS is particularly good at doing this. Importantly, they are building tools that enable others to also scale what they are doing and improve the lives of thousands, millions even billions of people.
(10.35) – Are there any particular areas of tech that excite you? The serverless space, there is huge growth in the managed services and functions as a service area.
Being able to offload your day to day logic tasks is huge. It means that you do not have to rewrite things like authenticators or replicant databases multiple times. Instead, you can use a blueprint and really speed up the creative process.
(11.53) – What drew you to a career in IT? Nader responds by saying futurism. When he started to learn how to code he found that he really liked it. That was the first time he had done something work-related that he actually enjoyed. But, it was the fact that he was working on things that would be used in the future that really attracted him to the tech sector.
(12.33) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Say yes to opportunities that scare you.
In the very beginning, following that advice got him into some hot water. But, it has also helped him to advance his career and really grow as a developer and as a person.
For example, when he was asked to speak at a large event, he was not daunted. Getting into the habit of saying yes to all kinds of things when he was scared meant he was able to overcome any fear and grasp the bigger opportunities.
The open source space is a great place to practice saying yes and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Most of the time, in that arena, if you make a mistake, people are not going to heavily criticize you.
(13.35) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Nader was not keen on school, so did not get a full formal education. As a result, he admires people who were able to put themselves through university and have got a full computer science, or closely related degree.
If he was starting out again, he would major in computer science. This is despite the fact that, these days, it is not absolutely necessary.
(14.40) – What are you currently focusing on in your career? Right now, Nader is broadening his understanding of cloud computing. In particular, working out what is going to happen in that field 5 to 10 years down the line.
(15.40) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? Being social is an important non-technical skill. As a natural introvert, it was quite hard for Nader to acquire this skill.
But, he forced himself to go to conferences, meetups and socialize. In time, he overcame his fears. Today, he finds talking to and connecting with people a lot easier.
(16.48) – Phil asks Nader to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. Nader’s advice is to get comfortable with transferring whatever you are thinking into the written word. It does not have to be perfect, spelling and grammar are not vitally important. Just learn to share what you think, feel and know in the written form. Doing this greatly improves your ability to communicate. This habit has actually gotten Nader a long way.
Try to share what you know in different forums. Write GitHub documentation, blog posts, emails, use Twitter. Utilize every written format you can think of. The more you do the easier it will become.
(3.00) NADER – “Consistently create things that are original or new.”
(4.13) PHIL – “On the creativity side of IT, the more you do the more creative you become.”
(11.36) NADER – “Saying yes to opportunities that scare you has no downside”
(15.46) NADER – “Get out of your comfort zone.”
(17.48) NADER – “Become comfortable with just spilling your thoughts onto a page consistently.”