What it’s like to be a developer

Habanero developers talk about confidence, communication, and the importance of starting with why.

Thinking about a career in development? Maybe with us? Similar to many of our roles, developers at Habanero focus their energy and talent on multiple things, even things outside the typical developer’s domain.

Curious? I asked Solution Architect Mark Bice and Technical Architect David Webb to demystify the mysterious (to some of us) world of development. Check out the highlights from our conversation below.

“Development” means so many things. What do you actually do?

Mark: It varies from day to day. I might be creating a development plan or doing risk analysis. Or, because we operate lean, I might not be doing pure architecture or abstracted work—I might be writing code. But whatever I’m doing, I’d say that I’m someone who plans how to build things.

David: We come up with designs to solve problems using techniques and approaches and tools that we trust. Mark’s role can be a bit more blue-sky, but a technical architect is less experimental. Having done quite a few implementations using SharePoint Online and Sitecore, we know how to do them. So when someone comes to me with problem, I can solution with a pattern. I have a framework.

What makes a good developer at Habanero?

Mark: Patience is a big thing. Sometimes you see people who rush into new technologies because they’re exciting and interesting. They don’t ask, “why I am doing this?” Being cautious is an important trait. It’s hard to hold back sometimes.

David: Being sure of yourself is also really important. When a client asks for something, and you say “no,” you have to be able to explain yourself diplomatically and, like Mark said, patiently.

Mark: Yeah, communication is huge, in many ways. Because we operate lean, often the architect plays a lead developer and lead tech role. So, we’re communicating with developers, documenting that, trying to understand how things should work, and communicating limitations back to the business. We have to be able to clearly communicate why we’re doing something. I’m often the de facto link between developers and the rest of our team, and the rest of the team needs context as to why we’re moving forward in a certain way. We don’t just say, “It’s a technical thing.” We equip the rest of our team members to go back to our clients with solid explanations for our decisions.

What challenges do you encounter?

David: We work a lot with the same tools, so we have a good understanding of them. But there are still nuances. One of the uncertainties we have is with SharePoint Online. It’s constantly changing, and bugs are out of our control. Sometimes we get to the end of a project, and then we find out something doesn’t work. There’s pressure to fix it, but we don’t know what caused it. We have to stop and research with the added pressure of time constraints and budget constraints. As a consultant, coming in as the expert, there’s the expectation that we always know what to do. That can be stressful.

Mark: The reality is we have to figure stuff out. We have to pick things up quickly and improvise a bit.

What are some of the more rewarding parts of your work?

David: I like the ability to work with different problems in different industries. One of the reasons I left my former organization is that I was always working in the same problem domain. I wanted more variety. At Habanero, I’ve worked with organizations in education, biotech, creative, and health care. I also like that Habanero is big on autonomy. In the summer, I go cycling three mornings a week before I get to work. I don’t punch in. I don’t have to ask to leave early. No one’s watching me. I’m accountable.

Mark: There’s lots of mutual respect at Habanero. It’s very rare that I’ve seen or felt anything adversarial—it’s just not that kind of environment. And that’s a huge thing: knowing that everyone’s really good at what they do and supporting each other.

Want to learn more about taking on a role like Mark’s or David’s? Visit our Careers page.

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