What’s your job about?
At FNZ I build and maintain an investment platform for a major bank, allowing customers of the bank to manage and grow their wealth. On a day-to-day basis I spend my time either fixing bugs, modifying existing features, or developing new functionality according to the needs of our client. This process usually entails a lot of investigation and root cause analysis, and less actual writing of code than you might think. Any change in the code has the potential to have far-reaching and unintended effects, so research is an important step. “Measure twice, cut once” as they say.
The most efficient way to describe the work I do would be to use buzzwords and list all the specific programming languages and tools that I use. Doing this would just mystify things for 99 percent of people. I think any teenager (or any person) willing to pay attention for a little while would be able to understand everything I do on a conceptual level.
What’s your background?
I grew up in Colorado (mostly).After graduating high school with honours, I moved to Oklahoma to study biochemistry. I spent my second year of university studying abroad at Victoria University here in Wellington. It was there I fell in love with New Zealand and is the reason I am back here today.
After graduating university, I worked in a biochemistry lab for a while, then moved into pharmaceuticals & medical devices, had some business & financial analysis roles, then ended up back here in NZ. I spent last year working for the Ministry of Health as an analyst, and it was during this time I decided to teach myself how to write code. After spending about 18 months studying programming nights and weekends, I felt I had enough knowledge to enter the field and be competitive, so I began applying for Developer jobs. The job search can be painful, but eventually I struck gold with FNZ. After being selected for an interview, I attended an assessment centre, and the rest is history. I learned that you shouldn't ever feel like you are locked into something because of decisions you made years ago. Go back to school! Take courses online! Go to the library! The world is your oyster.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely “Yes”… If they’re willing to put in the groundwork. My background is wholly unrelated to the work I do now. All the courses, materials, practice problems, and communities I joined to learn these skills were 100 percent free. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
In regards to the job, problem solving is key. Being able to methodically split a problem apart into manageable pieces is an integral skill for any computer programmer. Patience, while often overlooked, is also very important. Try not to get frustrated when things don’t work perfectly the first time!
What’s the coolest thing about your job?
What I love most about my job is how much I am learning. Every single day without exception I am gaining new knowledge and practicing my skills.
In terms of specific tasks, I enjoy building new features because it helps stretch my creative muscles. I am fascinated by the way data is transformed and passed around from the user, through our code, and in & out of databases. My job is only tiring when there are deadlines looming; the rest of the time I legitimately enjoy going to work. Coding is like solving puzzles… It can be quite fun.
What are the limitations of your job?
Work in a delivery-focused developer position has one main limitation that I can see at this point. That being “the job is never done”. If you aren’t careful to set appropriate work-life boundaries, you may end up working more than you would like.
Three pieces of advice I would give to myself as a student: