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What Does a Career at Mission Labs Look Like? Volume 2.
November 30th, 2020
What Does a Career at Mission Labs Look Like?
Diego Partipilo, Software Engineer.
Josh Healey: So, what was your route into becoming a developer?
Diego Partipilo: I wanted to find a career which combined all the elements of the things I love, which is typically the arts as well as solving problems. I didn't know anything about coding at this point. I knew I liked music, I knew I liked drawing and I knew I liked writing stories. I also had a passion for video games. I suppose these things all go into a video game. I’d actually thought about composing music for video games in the past so I was definitely being pulled in some kind of direction.
JH: And how did that turn into coding, exactly?
DP: I read articles about how to get your musical scores placed into video games. Turns out that one way to get your music heard was to actually meet with developers and enter the creation process early on - show them your stuff. I looked on Facebook and saw an indie video game company in Manchester and started there.
I was meeting these amazing developers, some of them worked for big companies. I didn’t know you could do so much with just you and a computer. I was originally using platforms like Unity to get started. Then I began exploring 3D modelling and found tools like Blender and realised I could combine the two to start creating games.
JH: Did you ever consider a coding camp or something?
Well that was actually the next step. I saw adverts for coding camps and I decided to go to one. I actually went to just see if it was real, originally. I thought it would be a scam like an empty warehouse or something. When I arrived it was real and really cool. We’d spend four hours a night learning and coding. After a few classes I was already helping others and I was told I should go to the proper bootcamp. They thought I was really good and would get a job at the end of it. So, after doing some preparation and some interviews I went to Northcoders.
JH: A few brief words on Northcoders?
After three months, I had learned so much. They really accelerated my understanding and I got to work on some really cool projects which pushed me creatively. I basically left feeling more confident about a skillset I knew I was beginning to enjoy and get good at. I'd certainly recommend them.
JH: As a creative do you find a degrere of creativity when coding?
There is a lot of room for creativity in programming and coding, especially for the front end in my own experience. Let me give you an example. When I have to do something and I am shown a picture or a brief, what I actually see is the picture and the code at the same time. It’s like I can see the structure of the HTML in my mind and I build out how it looks in my head. I then type it as I see it - if that makes sense - and it just starts to form. It’s almost like in music when you think about harmony, ensuring everything connects in the right way - it happens at the same time to give you the finished product.
JH: Sounds like you almost translate it naturally, that’s fascinating. Like the way bilingual people can hear a sentence in one language but are processing it in another?
DP: I guess it is a bit like that! It’s about mainly understanding the meaning of the entire project. Which is ultimately what human language is like. I used to read, translate and then attempt to understand something when I was first learning English as Spanish is my mother tongue. I think I realised I had really learned English when I could understand jokes. Jokes are a good example of how the literal translation isn’t the most important factor; understanding everything about the context and the culture behind it becomes just as important if you want to get it right.
JH: You mentioned harmony before. Turn of phrase? Or are you musical as well?
DP: Oh yes very musical! Like I said before about loving the arts, music is no exception. Especially the piano, I love to play the piano. While working from home sometimes when on my lunch or to take a break from a large coding session I can just turn around and indulge in a different kind of creative escape. A different way to express myself aside from things like coding. I feel refreshed and ready to keep going after doing this, it's magical.
JH: And writing? Do you write?
DP: Yes I love to write. Code, of course. But I also love to write poetry - anything that challenges me or lets my imagination run wild. For example, I am currently enjoying acrostic poetry.
JH: If I gave you the word ‘connect’, could you make me an acrostic poem?
DP: Of course. Let me come back to you later so I can think of something interesting…
JH: What advice would you give for somebody wanting to get into coding?
DP: I would say read and learn as much as you can on your own first. There is so much information out there on the internet from reputable sources that you can become familiar with some of the most basic aspects of coding from the comfort of home or in your spare time...
If you realise you are enjoying it or find you hit a limit on what you can pick up yourself, then I would definitely recomended attending a course or a bootcamp as I did.
JH: Lastly, plans for the rest of 2020?
DP: I'm looking forward to the Mission Labs Hackathon this year, I think we all need it. It's been a tough one for a lot of people. I've got a cool idea for a project which I won't tell you about... you will just have to wait and see!
I'm also looking forward to the Christmas break and sending time with my family.
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