Interview with software developer, Darrin Katzska

 

Darrin Katzska

Follow Darrin at @darrinkatzska.

What do you do?
I’m a software developer working for Corus Entertainment. I work in the Digital Technology department, which builds and maintains the applications for all devices, such as web, mobile, and connected TVs, for all of Corus’s brands, including GlobalTV and Global News.

How long have you been in this field for?
I’ve been programming since I graduated in 2006, so 12 years now. I’ve been at Corus for the last eight years, which currently makes me the developer in our department who has been there the longest.

What inspired you to pursue this career?
I played a lot of computer games as a kid and I had a friend whose parents had given them a book on programming BASIC in DOS. I started writing my own programs and I really enjoyed the experience of the ideas in my head becoming real on the screen. In high school I discovered that programming was also a viable vocation, so it was an obvious career path to follow.

What was the biggest hurdle in attaining your career goals?
I didn’t get my first choice of internships because I hadn’t put in enough effort during my undergrad to get good grades. As a result, when I graduated I didn’t have as much of the sought-after experience as my peers, so I didn’t get my first choice of jobs. I had wanted to go into the game industry and ended up finding myself in web development.

What do you like most about your work?
I find it extremely satisfying to be given a problem with a set of requirements and be asked to come up with the best solution given the resources we have available. I also really enjoy translating between technical and non-technical teams, as I seem to have a facility for adapting my communication style to suit my audience.

What do you find most challenging about your work?
Development culture claims to value logical reasoning. However, differences in opinion on how to write code often boil down to emotional reactions and personal preferences that developers mistake for objective facts. We should start saying “I prefer X over Y” a lot more often than we say “X is better than Y”.

If you weren’t a software developer, what would you be?
Definitely a teacher. I often seek out opportunities, both at work and outside of work, to share my knowledge with others. At work I try to be deliberate about only explaining exactly what they want to hear and no more.

Name one hobby you have that’s not related to your work.
If it paid the bills I would spend all of my time running games of Dungeons & Dragons. There has been a concerted effort by the company that publishes D&D to make the game inclusive and welcoming to both new and returning players, so there’s never been a better time to try it out!

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Check my phone for new podcasts, new articles on my RSS feeds, and notifications from social media.

And last thing you do at night?
Check my phone for new podcasts, new articles on my RSS feeds, and notifications from social media.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your work.
Currently a 7, but that’s only because I recently switched teams and it’s taking a lot more effort than I expected to become productive with a development framework that I was previously unfamiliar with. I’ll be back up to the 8-9 range once I get my feet under me again.

 

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