Interview with Jordan Kohl

My name is Jordan Kohl and I'm a Software Engineer at Ghost Inspector.

What is your software engineering background?

I'm a self taught front-end developer with 12 years of experience. Recently I spent a few years as a manager, but I'm currently an individual contributor. Most of my jobs have been at small startups, which I've found to be great places to learn and grow. While I started with PHP, my focus has mainly been on JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

What tools do you use mainly for JavaScript coding?

React, Node, Mongo, Angular, VS Code, Gatsby, Next, the list goes on!

Do you use any time management model; how do you organize your schedule?

I have used the Pomodoro Technique quite a bit. But at this point in my career and life, I actively seek out companies where I don't have to micromanage my time. I understand that time management can be crucial for startups with limited money or working as a contractor, but I would much rather focus on what I'm building rather than how I'm building it.

What skills are the most important for individual contributors?

Soft skills! At the end of the day, software is still mainly about communication. The code you are writing is for other people, not the computer. The computer will translate what you've written into machine code. Just like any other language, code is a way of expressing the intent of the business to other developers, so they understand why certain choices were made, why it's important to the business, and how it should evolve in the future. The value of the code is the knowledge it contains and represents.

When you realize that software is just communication, then soft skills become very important. Not only do you need to write code that is easy to understand, you also need to be able to communicate your intent and reasoning to everyone else on the team, to help grow the pool of ideas among the team. And for that to happen, people need to trust and appreciate your ideas equally.

You can be the best developer in the world, but if you're a pain to work with, you'll be relegated to solving problems that no one else wants to deal with, on dead-end codebases. You'll become a commodity, more easily replaced by someone younger and faster, who can convince the team of rewriting everything rather than try to untangle your mess.

If you are interested in hearing more tips on becoming a better software developer, please follow me on Twitter @simpixelated.


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