Don’t Be Afraid of Failing and Always Ask Questions with Nicolas Frankel

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Nicolas Frankel

Nicolas Frankel is a developer advocate who has consulted for customers in a wide range of industry sectors including telecoms, banking and insurance.  He usually works on Java and Spring technologies with a focus on rich internet applications, testing, continuous integration, continuous development and DevOps. As well as a frequent conference speaker, he is also author of three books including “Learning Vaadin” and“Integration Testing from the Trenches”.

In this episode, Phil and Nicolas Frankel discuss why you need to ask plenty of questions and not be afraid of failure. They also talk about how teaching and mentoring others helps you to grow as an IT professional.


Nicolas Frankel

Resources – Check out Nicolas Frankel’s blog!

2 Top Career Tips

1) Do not be afraid to ask questions especially when you are a junior. People won’t think you are stupid when you ask how and why. In fact, this is the sign of a good developer. During the podcast, Nicolas provides several examples of how asking questions has helped him to get to the root of why something needs to be done a certain way. Being informed like this makes it far more likely that the code you write will fully meet the end-users needs.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is natural. If you don’t try you will never fail.

Show Notes

Worst Career Moment

Early on in his career, Nicolas managed to take down a production server. He was trying to automatically delete a specific set of files. Unfortunately, he ended up deleting them all. Nicolas explains exactly what happened during his discussion with Phil. It was a tough way to learn to never write anything in production.

Career Highlight

Interestingly, for Nicolas, it was not one of the many big projects that he had worked on that was his career highlight. It was actually a small project that he and another developer completed while working directly with the stakeholder. Up until that point, he had always worked with layers of management between him and the end client. The customer was thrilled with the result and thanked him and his colleague in person. It was the first time that had happened to Nicolas, which gave him a real lift.

The Future

The IT industry continues to get more interesting. There are so many opportunities to make things work better. For example, there is a huge need to make systems communicate and work together. Right now Nicolas is especially interested in the new ways things are being deployed. He is excited by the new possibilities offered by using Docker Engine – Community.

The Reveal

What first attracted you to a career in I.T.?

Surprisingly, it was a course that Nicolas took while at architect school that sparked his interest in I.T. He explains exactly how that happened, in the podcast.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Good communication is essential. You need to be prepared to share what you are doing with others.

What is the worst career advice you’ve ever received?

Stop coding and get into management. People thought that the coding work Nicolas loved doing so much would all be outsourced. That did not happen, so Nicolas has been able to continue to earn a living doing the work he loves.

If you had to begin your career again in today’s world, what would you do?

Nicolas said he would not change anything about his approach. He found working for a consultant to be a good way to gain experience.

What career objectives are you currently focusing on?

Nicolas is working on his people skills by attending more conferences and engaging more with others when he attends.

What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far?

Being a good teacher and mentor. Teaching others has greatly improved Nicolas’ understanding of all kinds of tech.

What do you do to keep your own career energized?

Talking at conferences, writing about IT, creating prototypes and setting up demos all help to keep his career energized.

What do you do in your spare time away from technology?

Nicolas loves sports he finds that it helps him to de-stress.

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