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Programming Duck: Improve Your Programming with Spyros Argalias

Relicans host Chris Sean Debatos talks to Front-End Engineer at Programming Duck, Spyros Argalias, about being a front-end development kind of guy, his website and YouTube channel: Programming Duck, where he writes blog posts does videos for newbie programmers, and that even if you've never done programming before, it's very possible for you to start from zero and become a dev without a degree!

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Jonan Scheffler: Hello and welcome to Launchies, proudly brought to you by New Relic's developer relations team, The Relicans. The Launchies podcast is about supporting new developers and telling their stories and helping you make the next step in what we certainly hope is a very long and healthy career in software. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of The Relicans podcasts on We're so glad you're here. Enjoy the show.

Chris Sean: Hey. What is up, everyone? Welcome to another episode of the Launchies podcast. Here with me, I have Spyros Argalias on this episode. Spyros, I want to welcome you. Thank you so much, man, for joining the episode.

Spyros Argalias: Yeah. Thank you so much, Chris. I'm looking forward to it. Good to be here.

Chris Sean: I've been looking forward to it as well, man. How have you been this last year, through this weird world that we're all living in?

Spyros: Yeah, [chuckles] this year was a bit weird. It was can't go out at any time. So it was quite a shock, but it's been all right. We're managing, thank you. How have you been?

Chris Sean: It's been interesting. It's a little weird, right?

Spyros: Yeah.

Chris Sean: It's a little bit different than normal, but things are kind of going back to normal, kinda. But aside from that, man, it's nice to meet you, Spyros. So tell me about yourself. Who are you?

Spyros: Yeah, thanks. It's nice to meet you too. I'm just a guy that loves programming, really. I got into programming a few years ago. I had never done it before. I eventually thought, what do I want to do? And it was programming, and that's just what I did. I just love programming. That's me.

Chris Sean: Nice and simple. That's good to hear. How long have you been a developer?

Spyros: How long has it been now? It's been, I don't know, six, seven years or something, I don't remember, something like that.

Chris Sean: A few years. That's a long time. Six or seven years is longer than a few years. Okay. Wow. Okay, that's awesome. So what kind of programming are you into? Is it front end, back end? Is it all end? [chuckles] What is it?

Spyros: So professionally, I've done front-end development.

Chris Sean: I like you more now.

Spyros: Oh yeah? You do front-end development?

Chris Sean: Yes. I'm a front-end guy.

Spyros: That's cool. So front-end development...with everything about me, I love and hate things. So I love front end, but I hate front end at the same time if you know what I mean.

Chris Sean: Sure.

Spyros: But it's pretty good.

Chris Sean: It's a love and hate relationship.

Spyros: Yeah.

Chris Sean: “It is pretty good”; how so? What do you mean by that?

Spyros: So with front end, there are many good things happening in front end, particularly the innovation with all the frameworks. Now that's a good and a bad thing because the bad thing is you need to constantly keep learning. I don't think it's the same, say, in back end. But the good thing is that innovation is coming out of that. Things are improving. And then, we have CSS, which can be very difficult to work with. You've got to do it right; otherwise,, you dig yourself into a big hole, so to speak, those kinds of things.

Chris Sean: Got it. And there are new things coming out. It was just like...what was that? Sass or less for the longest time. Now there's even Tailwind CSS. There's all these different things coming out now, all these different CSS frameworks.

Spyros: Yeah, that's right.

Chris Sean: Which one do you work with professionally, but which one do you prefer?

Spyros: A good question. Professionally, I actually don't really work with a framework. I've used Bootstrap. Let's say I've used frameworks for some components. Like, if we need a quick header or a navbar or something, we take that. But I like to think that at heart, I'm a BEM guy.

Chris Sean: Really?

Spyros: Yeah.

Chris Sean: Wow. Okay. That's awesome. What is your least favorite CSS library that you've worked with? I'm curious.

Spyros: So I like a lot of them, and I think a lot of them have a lot of value. But for me personally, say I was going to start a new company now and we're going to do the thing, if we use the framework, I would like to use it in a way where it would be compatible with BEM if that makes sense. Like, where the framework is controlled in our CSS, and we can replace it through our own CSS if that makes sense. Like, we have an abstraction on top of the framework so we can replace what's behind that abstraction easily. So some frameworks you can't do that easily with, those are the ones that I...that's what I would look into. Let's just leave at that for now—something like that.

Chris Sean: Interesting. And I do have another question because I'm a front-end developer as well. Well, I am a Developer Relations Engineer, but at heart, I'm a front-end developer. I love front end. I'm just curious, where do you see yourself going in the next, say, the next seven years as a front-end developer? Is that something you want to keep focusing on? Do you feel like you ever might be close to burning out from that, maybe moving on to software development or back end?

Spyros: So I haven't given my full backstory yet, so to speak. But basically, yeah, I love front end. Right now, I'm not working as a hardcore front-end engineer. I'm actually taking a little break from that, and I'm doing…

Chris Sean: Nice.

Spyros: I call it Programming Duck. I have a website, Programming Duck, where I write blog posts and I do videos. So that's a relatively new thing. I'm doing that a little bit on the side, and I'm actually working on a company with some friends of mine, which has a little bit of development, but it's not hardcore development. So, so to speak, I'm taking a bit of a break from proper front-end development as you would be doing. But I very likely will go back to that in the future, in a few months maybe.

Chris Sean: Whoa. Okay. That is interesting. Before we get into that, then, before we go into that side company, that company you're building, and Programming Duck, before we go there, I'm curious, if I may ask, why did you become a developer in the first place? How old are you, by the way?

Spyros: I'm 29.

Chris Sean: Oh, okay. So you've been coding since your early 20s, like 22, 21.

Spyros: Yeah.

Chris Sean: So, how did you get into it? Was it school? Are you self-taught?

Spyros: Yeah. So [laughs] I can talk about it for a little bit, my backstory. But the turning point specifically was I wasn't a programmer. I was aware of it. When I was younger, I played video games, and I was thinking, oh, it would be so cool to make video games and stuff. I'm sure a lot of people have that. But anyway, at some point, I was working, and I sat down,and I, I took a long time and I thought okay, what do I really want to do in my life for the next few years? And the answer, after a lot of thinking, turned out to be I want to do programming. I think programming is so cool. I love the things that you can develop with it. It plays a big role in society today and in the future.

Chris Sean: Yes, big time.

Spyros: So I thought I want to do that. So while working, I spent about a year self-studying on my own. I didn't go to a bootcamp, which I think is another great path, but I didn't do that. And I prepared then eventually I got my first job as a proper front-end developer.

Chris Sean: But why code out of all things? Like, you could have become a lawyer. If you're a developer, I generally believe you can do anything else. If you wanted, you could become a lawyer. If you really wanted, you could become a doctor, but why go back to school?

Spyros: [chuckles]

Chris Sean: You could do anything, but why code?

Spyros: Yeah, I completely agree. In fact, I think anyone can do anything, to be honest. Why code is because when I sat down and I thought, what do I really want to do? I just thought programming is so cool, and I really liked the idea of it, of being a programmer and the look of it, and being able to create something that I want to just because I can just sit down and create something. And then, when I actually tried it, I enjoyed it.

Chris Sean: [laughs]

Spyros: Because there are other things I thought, okay, this seems cool. Let me try it. It wasn't really for me, but yeah, programming was just what called to me, so to speak.

Chris Sean: That's awesome, man. If I may ask, when did you realize you liked it? Was it a month in, two months in? And the reason I ask is because when I started learning code, it was so boring.

Spyros: [laughs]

Chris Sean: The first month, it's HTML and CSS. But what you see is just letters, commas, semicolons, whatever, you just see that. And after, I would say, maybe two or three months is when I started to enjoy it when I finally built my first website in plain HTML and CSS. So, when did you actually realize you enjoyed it? Was it right away?

Spyros: So I think the way I would phrase it is I really liked the thought of it, and I thought I want to do programming. And then, when I actually did it, it didn't put me off. So I kept on enjoying it if that makes sense.

Chris Sean: That makes total sense.

Spyros: So it came from I just want to do this because that's what I feel like, that's what seems really cool to me rather than...It wasn't like someone told me, "Yo, do programming. It's a good career," for me, it was like, okay, I really want to do programming. Let me do it, and doing it wasn't bad.

Chris Sean: Yeah, for sure. Okay. And then from that, how long from...I'm just curious, and I ask this question with everyone I speak to. From the point, you started learning code to getting your first job after coding bootcamp, from learning code to your first job, what was the span between that? Was it one year, a year and a half, one month?

Spyros: [chuckles] I kind of need to think about it. I think for me I would say it was about maybe nine months to twelve months, I think, something like that.

Chris Sean: Wow.

Spyros: But that wasn't the full story either. There is more detail than that.

Chris Sean: Is it mainly because of bootcamp, or when you look back now, do you think you could have done it without a coding bootcamp?

Spyros: I didn't actually do a bootcamp.

Chris Sean: Oh, I thought you mentioned you went to a bootcamp.

Spyros: Sorry, no. It might be the microphone. I was trying to say that I didn't do a bootcamp, which I think is a great thing to do if someone wants to do that. I see a bootcamp as a fast track to a job. Now, I'm not experienced with it, but that's what I've heard. I've heard you're almost guaranteed a job after if you do well in it, something like that.

Chris Sean: I agree. I personally don't like bootcamp. I don't like bootcamps because they are so expensive. [laughs]

Spyros: It is, yeah.

Chris Sean: I think you can do the same thing in the span of 12 months. Now going to a bootcamp will help drastically if you can do it. But, I don't know, I think it's because I personally hate school [laughs] and I'll never go back.

Spyros: So do I.

Chris Sean: I dropped out of three different colleges, so it's like I'm done with school. But if you like it, I have nothing against that. That's totally fine. That's awesome,, though, man.

Spyros: Thank you.

Chris Sean: So tell me about yourself then, you got your first job. What happened after that?

Spyros: Yeah, so I got my first job, and I absolutely loved it. It was a great environment to work in. During my first job, I kept wanting to become a better programmer and to keep learning. And there were challenges at work that I was thinking...some things were difficult for me let's put it that way, and not just me because it was my first job, but it would be difficult for other developers that I worked with as well. You know how it is, right? Code debt and how you do your code and how it's not as easy to work with tomorrow if you don't do it. But anyway, I was thinking, hmm, how can I do this better? How could this have been done better so that I don't have this difficulty now? Which is something I also got from the book The Pragmatic Programmer. Towards the first chapter or something, it says, "Keep thinking, how can you do your code better? How can you improve?" But those kinds of things. So through that process, through learning the entire time, that helped me a lot. Now, as for what I did that was my first proper front-end development job. I did some other work as a front-end developer, some smaller jobs after that. And now, as I said, I'm taking a little break from official front-end development to do some other things.

Chris Sean: If I may ask, why? Why are you taking that break? What is it? Do you feel burned out? Is it just doing the same thing over and over again, tickets, fixing bugs, et cetera? I've been a developer for five years, so I kind of understand where you're coming from. [laughs] What is it, though?

Spyros: Yeah. So for me, I actually really enjoyed the work. The work and not liking the work or being burned out or whatever wasn't why I stopped. It was actually that I had some family, and they wanted to start a company, and they needed help. So that's why...I basically stopped working, and I went to work at the company with them for less money and stuff. But one of the things about me is that I'm not too obsessed about money. As long as I can have my basic expenses, I don't care about being paid a ton. So that's why I came off. And at the same time, I was thinking...yeah, I guess there were certain things I've wanted to work on. It was not that I didn't like it, and I very well will probably go back pretty soon.

Chris Sean: Okay. And so you started something called Programming Duck. First of all, that is a cool name. [laughter] Why is it called Programming Duck, and what is it?

Spyros: [laughs] Yeah, thanks for saying it's a cool name. I like it as well. Yeah.

Chris Sean: [laughs]

Spyros: So that's something I do on the side with my current work, so it's not my main focus. But what it is it's basically me doing basically tutorials and programming learning content just because I want to. It's not a serious thing that I'm doing as paid work. I just want to do it.

Chris Sean: So these are basic blog articles/tutorials.

Spyros: Yeah.

Chris Sean: And things you've built.

Spyros: Yeah. Well, it's not really project-based. It's like, for example, I have the article, in particular, “Clean Code & Programming Principles — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide,” is what I've called it. And I have a YouTube series for it as well. But yeah, it's instructional programming content.

Chris Sean: Wow. This is pretty cool.

Spyros: Thank you.

Chris Sean: I'm actually looking, and you have a lot of articles. Whoa.

Spyros: I'm trying to build it up.

Chris Sean: Props.

Spyros: Thanks very much.

Chris Sean: Yeah. I mean, I write blogs here and there, but wow, this is pretty impressive. I'm not going to lie.

Spyros: Thank you.

Chris Sean: Okay, and so that's cool. So you started Programming Duck, and why did you start that?

Spyros: Yeah, thanks for that question. So, as I was saying, throughout my work working as a developer, there were times where I encountered problems, and I was thinking, how can I do it better? Et cetera. There were other times where I was talking with other developer colleagues of mine, and we were code reviews, right? What do we think about this code? And maybe it could be done this way or this way. Now, long story short, is that as I was working, I realized that there are things that I still need to improve on. So there were the things that I knew I didn't know, and I could go and learn. And then there are things that I didn't quite know how to improve, particularly writing good code and programming principles and stuff. But I think I was doing pretty good because my colleagues said my work's good. My managers were very happy. So it was all good. I was contributing well to the company. So intuitively, I thought I could write pretty good and maintainable code. But where it really hit me that okay, I have gaps in my knowledge I must sort out, are two particular situations, a code review with a colleague friend of mine, a really good developer. But the particular coding question was a class that basically had three different things that it was doing, and that's major things. It was doing three different majors. And we've all heard of the single-responsibility principle. So I mentioned that to them, and they replied the single-responsibility principle doesn't mean class does one thing. It means one method does one thing. So anyway, we looked at the definition. It turned out, in the end, we realized actually it's class also does one thing. But when we discussed further...and we weren't arguing. We were just discussing because we like writing good code. But basically, when I explained the reasons of like, single-responsibility is good because it means that tomorrow when you change this concern, you won't break the other, right?

Chris Sean: Yes.

Spyros: And they were just like, "Yeah, why would I do that? There are different methods. That shouldn't be a problem." And at that point, all I could say was, "Uncle Bob says the single-responsibility principle is good, but I can't argue further than that," which isn't because I want to argue; it’s because I realized I don't really know. Am I just quoting some guy? Why does it matter, you know?

Chris Sean: Yeah. That's true. So that one point with that conversation sparked all of this.

Spyros: Yeah, that was one of the two. There was another similar one like that. And again, I thought, hmm, I know this is a good solution because it's standard in React. But my colleague who says doesn't like it…

Chris Sean: Why?

Spyros: Yeah. I can't explain why. All I can say is it seems good to me for X and Y." But if they're like, "But why?" I'm like, "I don't know." So that's when I realized, okay, I'm missing knowledge here. That was actually quite a long sidetrack. Sorry. I'm pretty much done.

Chris Sean: No, that's a really good point. And I was actually going to mention just to go off that is I generally believe that's one of the good marks of a good developer, upcoming developer, or a new developer with potential is, why? Why is that the right thing? Why tabs? Why spaces?

Spyros: [laughs]

Chris Sean: Why use Prettier? Even those small things. Why stop using Sublime Text? Or anything and anywhere in regards to code. Asking those questions, that simple, basic curiosity I think is huge. And I think everyone, even if you don't have that curiosity now as a developer, anyone who's listening, I think that's something that everyone should aspire to have or build, that curiosity. If you don't have it now, you could have it. You just have to spark that that curiosity within you. That's pretty impressive, man.

Spyros: Thank you. Yeah, I completely agree. I think knowing the why behind certain things just makes everything better for you, you know?

Chris Sean: 100%. And how has that helped you then in regards to your content creation?

Spyros: Yeah, so basically, so what happened was I realized okay, I have stuff to learn. So then eventually, I went on, and I learned it better, and I thought about it a lot. And then I thought, hmm, others may benefit from what I have to write about this because I was struggling with specifically how to write good code. As I said, even though I thought I was doing pretty good, I didn't feel like I fully got it until I could answer those why questions for myself. So basically, one of my most important blog posts, which is the “Clean Code & Programming Principles” one, I try to approach it from the why first in the hopes that if anyone else is like me, if they just need to see it presented in that way, it may help them. And that's why I do Programming Duck. I just do it because I want to; if other people may benefit from it, it's there so they can get that benefit.

Chris Sean: Honestly, if I can tell you something, I'm learning a lot from you right now, honestly.

Spyros: Thank you.

Chris Sean: That why. And as a content creator myself, man, that's a good topic for YouTube videos [laughter] on any subject, literally any subject. Why space instead of tabs? Or something. It's kind of funny. And honestly, the reason behind that and why you do what you do I love that. Because for me, I have a YouTube channel that I've been creating content for the last five years. And the reason I do it, it pays really well right now, really well. But I never did it for the money, and I never thought that I could make money from it. I did it because I just wanted to be that example that people could look forward to when they're learning code, not up to senior developers, not to the mid-level developers at all. It's because I remember when I was learning code, I wished there was someone that could tell me the basics on, for example, how to act at work as a new developer. What questions do you need to ask? What is the life of a developer? What struggles did you go through? What does someone with three years of experience go through? So I'm literally just documenting my journey. But in return, the fact that you're able to help so many people, the return on investment on that is amazing. Not financially speaking, which is nice, but knowing that you're actually helping people, making an impact. How many people do you know that can say that they are actually making an impact in lives out there?

Spyros: Yeah, true.

Chris Sean: It's pretty amazing, man. I love that. And so the other thing you said is you said you started a company with some friends.

Spyros: Yeah, some friends and basically my brother as well. That's basically a local company. We teach music like Djing and music production and stuff to people. They actually come in for lessons and stuff. But yeah, basically, I've run a company on my own before I became a programmer. And my first company didn't actually work out, but I learned a very valuable lesson that running a company is extremely hard work.

Chris Sean: Oh my gosh, tell me about it. [laughter] How so? Please tell me. Please tell me how. Let's say I don't believe you. Convince me.

Spyros: Sure, that's fine. But yeah, basically, say you're a programmer at a job. You come in, you do your work, which is programming. You're an expert at that, and that's all you do for the most part. But when you run a company, you need to do that, but you also need to do everything else that a company requires, which is a lot of stuff and especially if it's like a content creation company. As you said, you have a YouTube channel. I will check it out. I wasn't aware you actually had one. So I'll note it down to check it out later.

Chris Sean: Oh, thank you.

Spyros: I'm sure when you started, you needed to plan the video. You need to record the video, set up the studio, edit, advertising.

Chris Sean: Ah, the background setting. Yeah, the advertising, sponsors, editing, the music, oh.

Spyros: All of it. Yes, so it's a lot of work.

Chris Sean: A lot.

Spyros: Anyway, so that's why I went in and I helped my brother because at the start, it was just me and him and now some friends as well. But thankfully, it's all worked out so far. It's all good.

Chris Sean: That is awesome, especially when you get that first customer. When you get that first customer, it's like, what? I convinced someone enough to buy something from me? [laughter] Something I made, not a company I work for but my company? It's the best feeling. One of the things I would say that people don't realize about running your own business because I started four businesses at once...

Spyros: Wow.

Chris Sean: That was stupid because I already work 40 hours a week in my job. And then I already do YouTube and then trying to sell desk accessories, a clothing company, a web development company, and then a mentoring platform, building all these different things all at once. It is time-consuming. I wasn't able to actually get a lot of things done because I was doing too many different things. And so I actually stopped. I didn't stop it. Three of those companies I put on pause. Now I focus on one company. But one thing that people don't realize is that you will fail a lot. And wow, you work a lot. If you work 40 hours now, get ready to work another 40 to 50 hours on top of your actual job.

Spyros: Yeah, that's right.

Chris Sean: Because it takes so much time unless you're doing it with someone else, which helps a ton.

Spyros: Yeah, definitely.

Chris Sean: But it's the best feeling ever, man. I love it because one of the things I love about it isn't the making money part. It's now that I have seven employees under me; I just love giving new jobs to new people. That's the best part. I think giving people an opportunity to make more money and just change lives that's what I'm in it for. It's amazing.

Spyros: Yeah. That's great to hear, Chris. Yeah, very nice. Very good stuff. So I would ask you about your other companies, but I don't know if it's appropriate to talk about it in this podcast. It's up to you.

Chris Sean: It's fine. My boss knows about all my companies. [laughter] Yeah, so I have a developer clothing line. And so what helps is I built a brand on YouTube the last five years, my YouTube channel. I'm almost at 100K subs.

Spyros: Wow, amazing.

Chris Sean: So I grew that, so that builds a brand and people will buy it because of me. But the thing is, for the last four to five years, I didn't sell anything to anyone. I just gave content away for free. And now it's like, yo, “I'm starting my own clothing apparel line, check this out. It's for developers.” And so I had some basics designs at first, and now some new stuff is coming out. But it was just basic clothing, like material and cool designs. Now on the version 3 stuff that's coming out, I guess season 3, the apparels are going to be high quality because one thing I didn't realize, and I should have, developers have money.

Spyros: [laughs]

Chris Sean: And they don't want to buy things that are just cheap, right?

Spyros: Yeah, that's a good one.

Chris Sean: I'm a developer. I don't want to buy something that'll just shrink after maybe five washes or whatever. I want something that'll stay nice for a long time. And so I didn't release any new clothing for the last six months because I was working with supplies, and China, and manufacturers, putting down even much more effort and a lot of money. But man, like, that's the fun part about business. There's a lot of risk, but the reward is amazing. But yeah, so clothing apparel. And I'm building a mentorship platform, which is on hold now. And the reason I'm building that is because I generally believe that there are so many people in the world who can advance their career so fast if they were able to find a mentor. And the thing is, if you were to pay for a mentor, that's very expensive, to be honest, a senior developer or whatever. So this is a way for people to find a mentor for a much more affordable price, and I'll be actually paying the mentors myself. So that would cost a lot of money but if it can help a lot of different things. And then my web development company. But one of the reasons I like to bring this up even on these podcasts is because I think so many developers just stick to coding for so long, and they don't try to build something for themself. And I think everyone should aspire to try to build at least one thing for yourself outside of work.

Spyros: Hmm. Okay. I haven't heard of that thought before. Would you mind elaborating on that? Like, what's the motivation for that?

Chris Sean: Yeah, there's a reason that we're paid so much money to build stuff for other people.

Spyros: True.

Chris Sean: Because we have a skill that can make money. [laughs] Does that make sense?

Spyros: Yeah, definitely.

Chris Sean: As a developer, I can build whatever I want. I don't know everything in the back end, but if I need to, give me a couple of months. I need to make a mobile app? Give me maybe four months. I'll code that for myself. And so we have the ability to build whatever we want. And so if you have no side project and you're just working 40 hours a week, you have so much more time after work and the weekends to build something on the side. And if you don't, I feel like you're probably missing out. It depends on what you want in life, though. Of course, you have to always do what makes you happy then. But for me, I just love building. It's just like what you're doing with your Programming Duck Company and that company with your brother and friends.

Spyros: Okay. So let me see if I understand you. So from my understanding, I think you're saying you can easily build something, so it will probably be a good idea for you to do so, especially if you want to, something like that.

Chris Sean: You should at least try.

Spyros: I think that's a good thought, yeah.

Chris Sean: I think it's different. Some people who work...I have a friend who makes $400,000 a year working as a developer. He probably doesn't need to build another company. [laughter] But with that kind of skill and being paid that much, how much more could he do on the side? You know what I mean? So it's all from perspective.

Spyros: Yeah. Fair enough. Thanks for saying that. That's a great thought.

Chris Sean: Thanks. So I have a question for you, though. As someone who's been a front-end developer for more than half a decade, what is something that you did not realize about the tech industry after being in there for so long?

Spyros: Yeah, that's a great question. I haven't really thought about this before.

Chris Sean: Good. Let me share for me, at least for me, right? When it comes to something after being here for the last five years, it's that there are so many opportunities out there waiting for you to grab it, but you have to put yourself in the position to grab it. For example, there are some people where if they get a $60,000 raise that will help their family and maybe they're supporting their parents or whatever, they're helping them, And all you have to do is learn another framework, learn another library. You know what I mean? Maybe learn one or two more things, and that will increase your salary drastically as a developer. But I don't think people realize how easy that is because I'll tell you this, I know way more people that stay at the same company for such a long time, and they never tried to leave and, I guess you could say, get a harder job, working at a bigger company that'll give you more work. And I think a lot of times it's because they don't believe in themselves or they're comfortable. Now, some people don't care about getting paid more or improving in a skill, and that's fine. But I think that's one thing that a lot of people don't realize.

Spyros: Yeah. Coming off on that, I think that's a great point. I would say, specifically, I think it's good to know what would make you happy. As you said if you don't want the extra money, okay. But when you're saying, "But know that this is what you can get if you want," some people may benefit from that. So yeah, I agree with that, actually.

Chris Sean: Definitely. And what about you then? If there's one thing, or let's just say quite a few things, whatever it is, what is it that you've learned from being a developer the last few years that can help others?

Spyros: Let me see.

Chris Sean: Tough question.

Spyros: Yeah. I might have to cheat my way out of this a little bit because I'm thinking specifically from being a developer, I don't know how I can answer this, but one thing that I have learned that I think is quite important; I think it links in with a little bit to your point as well is that you can do it. Even if you've never done programming before, it's very feasible and possible for you to start from zero and without a lot of...definitely less than a three-year degree. With a little bit of time on your own, you can go and get a job as a programmer if you'd like that.

Chris Sean: Yes, 100%. And if I would add to that, it does depend on where you live too. I know for a fact in the Philippines or in India; unfortunately, you can't get a job without a degree. You need a degree to become a developer there. Some people get in, but it's very rare, from what I've heard, the same thing in the Philippines. It depends on where you live, particularly in America; yeah, that's very possible. Where do you live, by the way?

Spyros: I live in the UK.

Chris Sean: Oh, you're in the UK.

Spyros: Yes.

Chris Sean: Oh, okay. I got a lot of questions for you. [laughs] No, that's cool. Okay. How is it being a developer in the UK? Sorry, that's a very broad question. [laughter] In the UK, is a degree as big as a deal out there as well?

Spyros: So basically, a degree is necessary for a lot of things. But for programming, for example, I don't have a degree. A lot of people that I've worked with don't have a degree. And other people do have a degree but in an unrelated field.

Chris Sean: Wow.

Spyros: So I'd say for some companies, yes, they definitely ask for a degree, but you don't need it for a programmer, I would say.

Chris Sean: Definitely. Wow. So even the UK. It is interesting because I do know a lot of developers who have a degree, but it's not in programming at all, some people have in history, English, arts, I know somebody who has a degree in videography which is really interesting.

Spyros: That's cool.

Chris Sean: Yeah, that's so interesting. That's cool, man. If I could ask too, how's the tech industry over there? Are there a lot of jobs for development in that industry as well?

Spyros: From what I've experienced, it feels like there are definitely plenty of jobs here. I don't know if it's a lot, but in my experience, people don't seem to have a lot of difficulty finding work if they have the skills for it.

Chris Sean: Definitely. And would you say React.js is in demand as well in the UK?

Spyros: I think from what I've looked at so far for front-end jobs that one seems to be the most popular right now, yes.

Chris Sean: Isn't that crazy, though? I remember five years ago when React.js was just starting to boom. A lot of people were saying, "This will be gone in two or three years." No.

Spyros: [laughs]

Chris Sean: It is here, and it is strong. It is crazy to see where it's going. If I may ask, is that what you primarily work with as well?

Spyros: It is actually, yes.

Chris Sean: Okay. My point is proven, [laughter] my point proven exactly. That's awesome, man. Man, this is so fun getting to know you. Well, this was really fun, man. Before we end this, is there anything that you want to share with any aspiring developers out there? If not…and particularly in the UK, anything that can help them? Any advice you want to give them before we end this?

Spyros: So I think the main points I would give to anyone are think about what you want. And it's fine if the answer is just money and you want to get a programming job because of money. That's fine too. But think about what you want because I think it's important for you to know that and to align yourself with that a little bit. And of course, you need to think okay, maybe say you don't want to work, extreme example, but you want to have a house to live in. So that also counts, right?

Chris Sean: Yes.

Spyros: So, anyway, think about what you want. Okay, enough of that. The other one is what we mentioned is that it is possible for you if you want a programming job. Even if you don't go to a bootcamp, you can learn on your own. You can build one or two projects to show to an employer. You can do it. Don't be afraid to spend the time to do it. And the big one is don't be afraid because I'm sure a lot of's easy for me to say that now. But when you are the newbie who doesn't know, you have a lot of doubt, don't you, you know? Yeah, so don't be afraid.

Chris Sean: Especially at your first developer job. It is terrifying.

Spyros: Yeah, that's right.

Chris Sean: That's a good point. That's good advice right there. Thank you for sharing that, man. Spyros, is there anything you want to share in regards to where people can find you on the internet, on Twitter, YouTube, et cetera?

Spyros: Yeah, so right now, I'm just doing Programming Duck. That's one word, I also have a YouTube channel called Programming Duck. Now, do note that it's like my side work; it’s not professional. But I am improving it; I am adding more content. So if anyone wants to see maybe if I've written some good stuff they might want to see, they can check out

Chris Sean: Awesome, man. Definitely. Spyros, it was good having you on the podcast. I really appreciate you being on here, man.

Spyros: Thank you, Chris. Yeah, it was great being here. It was great talking to you.

Jonan: Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of the rest of The Relicans podcasts on In fact, most anything The Relicans get up to online will be on that site. We'll see you next week. Take care.

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