Hector Parra has 14 years of programming experience and has worked at companies like Rebel Courage, PingKast, and Hexahex. He cofounded Starfall Group and currently works as a front-end developer for Irvine-based Pivotshare, an online media distribution company. Last Thursday he graciously came after hours and spoke with us about his vast experience as a web developer.
When I was kid, Legos were my favorite toys; I liked to build things. I liked to build new things, I should say. For me what was more interesting was patterns and getting into the structure, the algorithm. That was my first experience with the computer. I like that a computer will always give you feedback. It will do what you tell it to do. Sometimes it will break, and sometimes it will even tell you it broke, but you can change something and then try it again. Experimentation was my learning model.
On the Importance of Ergonomics
If you’re going to spend the greater part of your life coding in a certain environment, it’s important that you are comfortable. Because believe it or not, a few years down the road and you’ll start to notice your neck start to crick and your pinkies – you’ll get RSI – Repetitive Stress Injury. Now you can get ergonomic keyboards, but I think the most important thing to consider is getting a really comfortable chair to save your back and neck.
Day in the Life + Employment
Web Development is a very interesting career – there’s a lot of freedom. You get a lot of rope. It also offers more opportunities to work with exciting, new companies. For instance, I work for a startup – Pivotshare. Its unique selling point lies between traditional movie platforms and YouTube – we cater to people who create high quality video with good production – usually they’re teaching something. So our company is really a distribution platform. The founder saw that traditional cable is going away and that a lot of people are moving towards producing their own videos – like big companies that shoot their own high quality training videos, for instance, or more often yet do their own marketing. I do front-end development for the company, and I primarily use Ember.
I am not surprised with how much junior web developers make nowadays first starting off – everything built nowadays requires talent to build it, and I think $60,000 a year starting or more is appropriate for new developers who strive to be the best. What’s interesting is that within just a few years you can easily make six figures, and $200,000 salaries are not unheard of at the senior programmer level. What does it take? You have to have the “always learning” mindset. When you do hit six figure income, don’t rest on your laurels – continue with the pace of the industry; become an expert. Do that and a wealth of opportunities will come your way in the form of premium salaries, partnerships, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Just stay immersed and keep learning!
On Demand for Web Developers
People need programmers – we’re only going to need more programmers, because technology is growing and programmers are needed to fill these jobs.
On Taking Equity vs Set Salary
Taking equity at a startup is a great strategic move. You have to figure out the trade-off between salary and equity, but generally equity will drive you to work hard for the company because in essence, you’re working for yourself – and it gives more meaning to your work and more job satisfaction. And you may end up hitting the big time with manageable risk.
Hector was a joy to listen to and hear about his valuable insight on his current and past work experiences in web development. We wish him the best with his current project, Pivotshare, and hope to have him again soon!