Finding my Holy Grail as a frontend developer (interview)

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“Becoming a Senior Frontend Developer was always a part of the plan…” – interview with Kacper Knapik, Senior Frontend Developer at Divante, about overcoming challenges and working with world-class clients.

Let’s start with your very beginnings in programming. How did it all start?

Well, the story is not too exciting. When I was a kid, my mum gave me a book “My first WWW page” (“Moja pierwsza strona WWW”) with multiple simple tasks to create in Notepad. That was my first small step to programming. Then I started learning on my own, creating small projects for myself.

At the beginning, I was both designing and developing the projects. Soon, I realized what I enjoy the most in creating interactive websites, simply based on something I wrote down in Notepad.

How did you turn such motivation and passion into your professional career?

After almost two years in my previous company, I decided to move on and I started looking for a new job as a Frontend Developer. I must admit that Divante was always a Holy Grail to me. It was the type of company that would always come up in conversations, a really good place to work for every developer. At that time, I struggled a bit with a lack of confidence but ultimately decided to apply for the Frontend Developer position.

It took less than an hour for Ola from the HR team to contact me. ;)

What stood behind your lack of self-confidence when you were applying for the frontend developer position?

It was connected to the fact that, in my previous job, I used to work on multiple stages with our clients. Thanks to my skills, I was able to work on the project from beginning to end. However, that made me feel like I’m not an expert in any particular field, but rather just good in multiple things.

When I joined Divante, what I saw as a disadvantage turned out to be my biggest virtue. As I think about it know, it took me no longer than 3 weeks to fully adapt to the way people work here and software they’re using.

Only three weeks. That sounds like a super short time to get into the new environment… What support or tips did you get from your new team members?

I can share the advice I got from my mentor, here at Divante. I’ve always had tons of questions, yet he would never give me the solution. Instead, he gave me a few tips and encouraged me to figure out the solution on my own. This way, I was able to learn much faster and understand what works and what does not. Frankly speaking, that was one of the most valuable lessons I learned during my onboarding.

You’ve been working in Divante for almost two years now and it looks like a long journey. Starting as a Frontend Developer, then Team Leader and recently promoted to Senior Frontend Developer. That’s really impressive!

Thanks. :) Before I started working here, I set three goals I wanted to achieve in my career which I knew are possible to achieve in Divante:

  • Learn at least one new JS framework
  • Take part in big projects for well-known brands
  • Become a senior developer

I’m really glad I was able to accomplish all of them.

Congrats! Speaking of interesting challenges… I’ve heard about the project you’re working on right now. Can you tell me something more?

It’s a big client from Canada, leader in eCommerce-oriented Progressive Web Apps. They approached Divante in 2017 and proposed to share knowledge and experiences providing their developers with a headless frontend for its flagship product.

At the beginning of the project, together with Piotr Karwatka, Filip Rakowski and Mateusz Kolasa, we received an invitation to go to Canada for a one-week introduction. During that time, we could work out a way of conducting the project, share our knowledge about Vue Storefront (developed at Divante as a PWA frontend) and understand the needs of our client.

Discover Vue Storefront the best PWA storefront for your eCommerce >

Sounds pretty interesting. What were the biggest advantages of this project for the frontend developer?

The project was extremely interesting. To name some of the advantages of the project: We released the new storefront as an Open Source product to enable partners to further product development. Furthermore, we work with the newest version of Angular which is being continuously updated. We cooperate closely with over 15 experts on the client’s side. At the moment, our team consists of 9 members, and we are planning to add 2 more members in the upcoming months.

Ok, last but not least, what is your advice to those who are just starting their career as frontend developers?

The main challenge associated with frontend development is that the tools and techniques change constantly. Therefore, it is essential to decide in which direction you, as a starting frontend developer, want to go and strive to become an expert in that one field. Are you a person who enjoys spending hours on developing a code? Or would you rather focus on user experience and design? Determining your goals allows you to focus on what really matters for your growth and constantly improve your skills as a frontend developer.

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Published March 1, 2019