Rocketeer Reflections: Why I Became a Developer

To succeed in today’s wired world, businesses and professionals need to maintain a website. Maintaining a viable website will help companies generate more business, convert leads...

Anissa Maligat
Anissa Maligat November 26, 2018

To succeed in today’s wired world, businesses and professionals need to maintain a website. Maintaining a viable website will help companies generate more business, convert leads and prospects into customers, and deliver strong marketing messages.

In order to capture the attention of your target market, you’ll need the expertise of a web developer. A web developer is responsible for building reliable and responsive sites and apps. Major responsibilities include coding in single or multiple programming or scripting languages, running websites on a variety of browsers and operating systems, as well as database creation and maintenance. Luckily for Growth Rocket, there is one person capable of executing these responsibilities: the company’s Head of Technology, MC Rogado.

With years of web development expertise under his belt, MC plays a key role in the development and maintenance of e-commerce sites for Growth Rocket’s clients. This role also gives him the opportunity to share his knowledge and insights with colleagues and clients.

But what really makes MC such an awesome web developer? We recently sat down with him to dig deeper into his career development and insights on the industry. He also had some words of advice for up-and-coming developers who want to follow a similar path to success.

How it all Began

MC Rogado working hard on laptop

MC Rogado working hard on laptop

MC first took interest in web development during his high school days. He started coding websites using Notepad and then progressed to Dreamweaver. “It was something I got good at over time, to the point that I even represented my city in a regional web design and development contest,” he said.

MC entered college during the IT boom in the Philippines. “I really wanted to be a chef and take up culinary arts. But since I had to put myself through school, that was too expensive for me,” he said. “I decided since I already had coding experience, I would be able to get and maintain a scholarship.

“It wasn’t easy, of course. High school is very different from college. More so when I entered the real world—that’s when I realized that almost everything I had learned in college was already obsolete. I had a hard time finding work at first. I was watching my batchmates get their first jobs one by one while I continued to send my resume and go to interviews. I couldn’t find a job that felt right for me.”

MC eventually found a job as a junior PHP developer. “The catch was that I didn’t know how to work with PHP back then. I only had a vague idea of PHP but I didn’t have much experience with it. So when I was offered the PHP post, I took it as a positive challenge,” he said.

“When you take up IT, especially software, there are different areas you can specialize in since you are introduced to many different coding languages. In my opinion, the main difference among the languages is syntax. As long as you can understand the logic behind it, you can learn how to work with it.”

MC stayed at his first job for two years before he started looking for other opportunities to boost his career. “I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to be stuck, especially in my career. At one of the interviews, I was asked if I knew how to use WordPress and I said no. However, I told them that it wouldn’t be an issue since I could learn it.

“So I got the job and took up the challenge again. In a span of two weeks, I went from not knowing how to use WordPress to creating five new sites a day. That was 100 sites a month.”

Although he got pretty proficient with WordPress, what he really wanted to do was become part of the PHP team in that company.

“I started helping out with their projects even if I wasn’t part of their team yet. Over time, I gained the skills to be promoted to Lead of Research and Development,” MC said. “Much of what I learned there served as the foundation for how I run the Tech Team here at Growth Rocket. As the Head of Technology, I strive to continuously learn and push myself to understand every new tech development popping up in every corner of the globe.”

Overcoming Challenges in Web Development

As part of Growth Rocket’s Web Development Team, MC tackles a variety of challenges associated with creating and maintaining e-commerce sites for the company’s clients.

“At Growth Rocket, most of our clients’ sites run on Magento. My first challenge upon entering the company was learning my way around the platform as I’m not really a Magento expert.
I think you can see a pattern here. I learned the architecture and behavior of Magento on the job. Using my previous experience with development processes, servers, AWS—everything I had learned about different technologies—I used to help me understand how Magento works.”

E-commerce sites are different from normal brochure-type sites since they’re selling products. This presents a distinct set of challenges. “You have to think about how the client’s customers will use the site and use that knowledge to figure out how to build the site,” MC said. “We have to keep in mind that apart from getting the site’s functionality to work, we also have to consider how the site can get people to convert and make purchases easily.

“Site speed is another challenge, especially for big e-commerce sites like those we’re handling here at GR. These always have high traffic. The smallest dip in speed can lose customers, so we always have to optimize the websites to make sure they’re running at top speed.

“It’s a challenge because Magento (although it has many features that our clients need) is also very resource-intensive. We have to make sure that server-side and architecture-wise, the sites are able to handle the load as new features are added.

“Lastly, since technology is always improving, we have to make sure that we’re always at the top of our game to stay ahead of the competition.”

The Pros and Cons of Being a Web Developer

MC Rogado competing at a race

MC Rogado competing at a race

Just like any other job, taking up web development has its advantages and disadvantages.

“Being a developer is a powerful job. As long as you know how your work figures in the bigger picture, there’s a lot that you can do. If you understand the goals and objectives of the project, and you have the right people on your team, you can do great things,” he said.

“As for disadvantages, we have set working hours, but sometimes if a site has an emergency, during non-work hours, we are called to provide support until the site stabilizes. This is part of our commitment to our clients and the responsibility comes with the job.”

Looking at the Future of Web Development

We also asked MC for his personal insights on the next big developments to hit the industry.

“AI is booming now, so the next level of development will most likely involve more integration with artificial intelligence. Another thing everyone should look at is machine learning and progressive web applications (PWAs),” MC said.

“As long as the web lives, new trends will come and go. Everyone needs to look ahead and redirect their approach in line with new business ideas to stay on top of their game.”

Words of Wisdom for Budding Web Developers

As for those who want to embark on a career in the industry, MC has the following words of wisdom:

Get out of your comfort zone.

This is vital for career growth. “Just because you don’t know something now, doesn’t mean you won’t excel at it later. There are many ways to learn so you can take this as an opportunity to grow.”

Think outside the box.

“Don’t be boxed in by the thought that what’s being practiced now is already the best way, or that there’s no other way to solve a problem. Be inquisitive, ever-questioning, and strive to uncover better solutions.”

Never stop learning.

“Stay abreast with the latest developments since technology is constantly evolving. Use what you’ve learned to build the foundation for your career. There’s no finish line, keep going.”

Keep your long-term & short-term goals in mind.

“Keep your goals and plans in mind so that you know what direction you’re going. This will also help you plot the next steps to help you achieve your objectives.”

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