Episode 88 – Learning to Focus on the Problem Rather Than Just the Tech with Simona Cotin
(1.00) – So Simona, can I ask you to expand on that brief summary and tell us a little bit about yourself? Simona explained that her job at Microsoft was to make sure that they build “great developer experiences in the cloud for web developers.” She is also passionate about teaching, so is a regular mentor at several workshops. One of which, codebar she recommends everyone checks out. This group is working to make tech more diverse and bring people from different backgrounds together.
(2.21) – Phil asks Simona for a unique IT career tip. Simona says get out there share your knowledge. Try to contribute to open source projects and be active in local communities and on social media.
(3.17) – If you were talking to someone who was just starting their IT career, what would you recommend to them as the easiest way to begin? Simona recommends finding some of the projects you are passionate about and diving deep into those. Follow the project and creators on GitHub and Twitter. Also, use meetup.com to find local meetups and attend.
(3.54) – Phil asks what her worst IT career moment has been? – Simona says – “I’ve been lucky enough not to have been in such a position”. For her all of the teams she has worked on have had a positive impact on her career. However, she does regret not finding a mentor while she was at university. Had she done so she would not have taken a job (her first one) which meant that she was working on a desktop project when it was the web that she was passionate about, at the time.
(5.38) – What has been your best career moment,? For Simona it is the job that she has right now. She is working on a great team. Everyone on her team is a superstar. Working with them is enabling her to learn a lot and have an impact on the products that are shaping the way we write software.
(7.05) – Phil asks what excites you about the future of the IT industry? All the hard problems we are solving now and in the future excite Simona. For example, how self-driving cars will make our commute much simpler and less risky or the way in which AI is improving workplace safety. How technology will help us to build a more sustainable environment. She encourages everyone working in IT to focus on the problem that they are solving rather than the tech that they are using.
(8.43) – What attracted you to a career in IT? Simona loves mathematics and was not really good at anything to do with literature. This fact narrowed down her options so she felt she had to focus on economics. While doing that she learned about computer science and algorithms. Basically, she “fell in love with algorithms.”
(9.11) – What is the best career advice you have been given? – Embrace failure. Simona explained that she came from a culture of “perfection and shaming failure”. But, she realizes now that there is “no growth without failure”. Phil agrees most seasoned developers feel that they learn more from projects that do not go well than those that are easy.
(9.48) – If you were to begin your career again, what would you focus on? Simona said she would focus on machine learning because we can solve so many interesting problems using it.
(10.05) – Phil asks Simona what she is currently focusing on, currently. Simona said that she is focusing more on machine learning and understanding how to use it to solve problems. She is also working on connecting to communities and using her Azure work to have an impact.
(10.31) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? Being a huge fan of people and being a good communicator has helped Simona throughout her career.
(10.41) – Phil asks Simona to share a few final words of career advice. Simona’s advice is to never stop learning and building things. Have fun, be meaningful and intentional about what you do.
(2.57) Simona – “I think we can all equally benefit from just putting ourselves out there.”
(5.16) Simona – “During university I would find someone to mentor me, I would find someone to chat about my passions, chat about what are the opportunities for me out there.”
(8.07) Simona – “Focus as much as you can on the problem that you are solving as opposed to the tech that they’re using.”
(8.09) Phil – “The technology is the means to the end. It’s the problems that need solving that are the important part of it.”
(9.15) Simona – “Embrace failure…There is no growth without failure.”
(10.54) Simona – “Never stop learning and building stuff. Just enjoy yourself, have fun and while you’re doing that maybe solve some interesting problem.”
CONTACT: Simona Cotin