Hired by Coca Cola! How Michael Learned Coding on Work Breaks and Changed Careers at 51

Hired by Coca Cola! How Michael Learned Coding on Work Breaks and Changed Careers at 51

πŸŽ™ About the episode

Meet Michael Robards πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ! Michael is a career changer whose path to becoming a developer was a long and winding one: he was a business analyst and a personal trainer; he worked front of house and managed restaurants; he studied biology and worked in customer service. Eventually, he got a developer job at Coca-Cola!

In this episode, Michael shares his story and his approach to learning and getting a job. He did a lot of things right, and he's also a proof that it's never too late for a career change. Michael and Alex also talk about imposter syndrome, difficulties of learning to code while having a full-time job, differences between big and small companies, and why having to keep on learning is a great thing about working in tech.

πŸ”— Connect with Michael

⏰ Timestamps

  • Michael's long and winding path to becoming a developer (01:44)
  • Why Michael thought becoming a software developer wasn't right for him (08:17)
  • How Michael commited to learning to code - and did that on company time, at least at first (09:04)
  • On learning to code while having a full-time job (11:56)
  • How Coca-Cola helped Michael on his coding journey (12:45)
  • Ad break: We had a lot of career changers on the podcast. Here's one of them! Plus how to support us, and who's on next week (it's Caitlyn Greffly)!
  • Is there anything Michael would've done differently? (17:43)
  • Why did it take four and a half years for Michael to get a software job at Coke? (20:31)
  • What does it look like to be hired internally? (22:57)
  • How to fight imposter syndrome? (25:12)
  • What kind of a coworker does a junior developer need? (27:32)
  • Why you should do things at your own pace and choose your employers wisely (28:35)
  • Michael's career goals (31:01)
  • Keep on learning! (31:47)

🧰 Resources Mentioned

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πŸ’¬ Transcript

Michael Robards (00:00):
It wasn't until 2016 when it really clicked and I was waiting tables at the time. In Florida you make a lot of money during the summer and then you literally starve during the winter. But I think it was after the 2016 elections and I'm like, "I'm going to learn code and I'm going to become a computer programmer." And that's when it really hit and that's when I just cranked down.

Alex Booker (00:18):
Hello and welcome to The Scrimba Podcast. On this weekly show, I speak with successful developers about their advice on how to learn to code and get your first junior developer job. My name is Alex, and today I'm joined by Michael Robards who just got hired as a developer at Coca-Cola. It's fascinating that Michael has a twin identical brother that also loves computers. While his brother actually went on to become a developer much earlier in life, Michael tried his hand at a bunch of different things. He was in the US Army, he managed a Waffle House restaurant. He was a personal trainer before eventually transferring his Front of House skills to work as a customer service representative at Coca-Cola.

(01:03):
Coke hired Michael a few years ago as a customer service rep, but he was very clear with his manager from the beginning. "I'm joining Coca-Cola as a customer service rep, but I want to grow and become a developer." They gave him access to different learning platforms and gave him the contact details of developers of the company, which Michael took full advantage of to eventually get hired internally as a developer and leave customer service behind. This is how he did it. At 51 years of age, Michael just got hired as a developer and in this episode you will learn how you can get hired, too. You are listening to The Scrimba Podcast, let's gets into it.

Michael Robards (01:44):
When I was in junior high and high school, just a young kid, I was always fascinated by computers. Now this is the '80s, we didn't have a whole lot of computers around. It was TRS-80s and Commodore VIC-20s and stuff like that. But I was always interested in computers and I thought they were really cool, and I was going to pursue that when I went to college but life gets in the way. My parents suggested I go more standard route like lawyer or doctor or that kind of stuff. I actually decided I was going to try to become a lawyer when I first went to college. So that didn't really work out, but sometime in the '90s, my twin brother, his name is Mark, I have an identical twin brother actually, we got a computer and this is back in '92 or '93, and he got computer, it was Windows 3.1, and we got internet connection through dial up.

(02:28):
I thought that we were just going to play around with it, but he went crazy on it and started learning all kinds of stuff and pretty much taught himself how to be a developer back then in the early '90s. And within a few years, he actually got a job as developer. And me, because he seemed to hog the computer so much, I really didn't get much of a chance to do it other than to play some games, so unfortunately I didn't really follow that path. I kind of wish I did. So he's been a developer for a long time, he's a senior tech, he actually works currently as a contractor. Anyway, my tech initially industry never really came off. I joined the Army and then in the early 2000s we moved to Tallahassee, my brother got a job working for a software development company and then he had me come on as a business analyst.

(03:13):
That was pretty cool, the business analyst side. I learned a lot about software development and that kind of stuff and they tried to push me into learning how to code, and I did a little bit of Visual Basic, but I never really applied myself that much. I really tried to focus on being an analyst, which I was just okay at. Unfortunately, I worked there for a couple years, I got laid off because they went through a big reorg and so I moved back to my home, which is in Fort Walton Beach, Florida near Dustin, Florida, and waited tables for two or three years. And then in 2016 I decided, I was like, "Look, I'm going to seriously... I'm going to get serious. I'm going to learn how to code." And so I go to my brother and he recommended I go to Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, a lot of the free resources they have.

(03:53):
So I mainly started learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and then from there it really continued on. I continued it on as best I could for years and I still waited tables. In 2017, I moved to Atlanta, but my skills weren't enough for me to become any kind of developer. It was mostly just HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I just continued to work hard. And then in 2017 is when I got my entry level position at Coca-Cola. Now it definitely wasn't a coding position, it was a customer service position in the freestyle department. Basically I would take freestyle orders from restaurants and that kind of stuff for their freestyle cartridges. But I figured that getting into Coke, hopefully continue to code, maybe I can possibly get a job as a software developer at Coca-Cola because once I get my foot in the door, once I become an employee, I would be able to network. And Coke has a lot of opportunities, and so it panned out and now I'm a software engineer at Coca-Cola.

Alex Booker (04:45):
It seems like the majority of your career, it was a little bit like an engine trying to start, I'm just looking at your LinkedIn and obviously you're in the Army, then you were a manager at various food chains. It says you were a personal trainer for a bit as well. By the way, it looks like you studied geography as well so I'm kind of curious how that played into the mix. But anyway, it feels like it would be nice if our career just took this really linear path. Yours didn't, what do you think about that in hindsight?

Michael Robards (05:10):
So as far as the personal trainer goes, that was really before I decided to commit myself to learning code. I was kind of bouncing around, I was waiting tables, I really didn't know where I wanted to go. I got really into exercise and diet and exercise and everything. I got into really good shape, and a guy I know suggested I try to become a personal trainer. I didn't really know much about it. I did end up getting certified, but the pay is just horrible. Unless you're established, you're making literally nothing. But yeah, it's just mostly it was, I just really didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I liked technology, but I didn't think that that was the right path for me. And as far as my degree in geography goes, so I first went to Florida State University right out of high school back in '89. I completed two years of it and then I dropped out.

(05:51):
And then I floundered around for a while. But in 2006, I finally decided I was going to go back to Florida State and get my degree. Believe it or not, my first choice was going to be philosophy. I've always been interested in philosophy. I was going to get a degree and I was going to work in academia, but after one semester of philosophy, I was like, no. So I decided what I was going to do. My brother was like, "Well, why don't you go computer science?" And I was like, "Okay." But for me, it would've taken me over a whole nother year just to complete the prerequisites. And so I was like, "No, I really want to get my degree and just be done with it." And so I landed on what was called environmental studies.

(06:24):
I'm interested in the environment. I'm not a zealot or anything, but I thought that that would be green jobs are very, they're plentiful and it seemed to be a growing industry. For some reason my major, environmental studies, wasn't listed. It's instead listed as geography for some reason, I don't know, that was a Florida State thing. I'm not sure how that planned out. But anyway, so I graduated. Only, when I graduated, all of the environmental jobs required master's degrees. And so I was like, "Ugh." That's when I ended up going into Waffle House because of my mass restaurant experience, I've got over 12, 15 years working in the restaurants. At some point I think I counted and I've worked for 16 or 17 different restaurants in my life. So I did that for a while and then I was like, "No." And then after Waffle House, I ended up working for the State of Florida in a customer service role, and from there I ended working as the business analyst.

(07:15):
One thing at work, we had a team meeting where everybody talked about their background and the rest of my team was so amazed at how diverse my background is. Now granted, I'm an older guy, I'm 51. But they were amazed about how many different jobs I have done. I didn't really thought about it but yeah, I've done a lot of different stuff. I was even a phlebotomist for a few months there back in the '90s. So there's many jobs that I've done, but I've always loved technology, I've always loved computers and that kind of stuff. And finally I was like, "This is definitely my path." I know it took several years for me to get from when I started to learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, to where I finally got my first job as a developer, but I finally made it and now I'm coding for a living. I'm figuring out coding problems and writing software and they're paying me, and they're paying me well.

(08:01):
Don't matter how long it took, it took what it took and I'm finally here, and I'm just totally super happy about my current job because many jobs in my past I was not happy to do, but I did them anyway. But now all that hard work has really paid off and now I'm finally a developer and it's awesome.

Alex Booker (08:17):
You mentioned that while you were doing these jobs and looking around, you felt as though tech wasn't the right path for you. What changed?

Michael Robards (08:24):
So when I was an analyst they're like, "Learn Visual Basic." And so I went through some Visual Basic tutorials, but honestly I just didn't have the drive. I really couldn't code while I was at work or learn that kind of stuff at work, I really had to learn it during my off time. And I was busy at work and I was doing the analyst work and then when I get home I just slacked pretty much. I just didn't have the drive or the passion.

Alex Booker (08:46):
And the energy.

Michael Robards (08:47):
Yep.

Alex Booker (08:47):
Sorry to cut in, but I just want to point out that while you're doing a full-time job, you only have so much time and you certainly only have so much energy and learning to code is very intense. You can't just measure the hours you sit at your desk, you really need to have clarity of mind when you do that. So I would just reframe that a little bit.

Michael Robards (09:04):
And it wasn't until 2016 when it really clicked, and I was waiting tables at the time in Florida, it's a tourist town so you make a lot of money during the summer and then you literally starve during the winter. And it was about winter time, I think it was after the 2016 elections and I'm like, "I am just committed. I am going to learn code and I am going to become a computer programmer." And that's when it really hit and that's when I just cranked down and just really started working at it as best I could. Now, I was waiting tables, so your hours, especially during the wintertime, you're only working about 25, 30 hours a week, so that allowed me a lot of time to work on code. And then when I moved to Atlanta, I did have a full-time job, but our customer service position, working with freestyle, did have some downtime and during that downtime I could code.

(09:48):
So I would do that, bring my little laptop, they didn't seem to mind as long as I was taking calls, and I learned to code there. And I'd also code after, when I got off of work. And I just continued on with it, continued on with Coke, kept on hoping that my skills would equate to something where I can get a job at Coke, that took a while. But during the time that I was at Coke, I got that Grow With Google Scholarship and that was a huge shot in the arm as far as me learning front-end and networking and really starting to do serious projects that were getting reviewed and everything. The Grow With Google Scholarship that I took, and that was in 2018, that was a super great opportunity. And then from there in 2021 I think is when I discovered Scrimba.

(10:29):
And I got to say that Scrimba has been amazing, really. The way it lays out, the way you're able to code inside the browser and the whole community, that was a big part because I really enjoy a really supportive community. I'm not the most active person, but just to be a part of that, I can go and participate in, it's something that's really important to me and it's really helped me with my coding journey. And so Scrimba was absolutely a great factor in me learning how to code and for me getting the job, you guys are doing really great.

Alex Booker (10:56):
Thanks a lot, Michael. With regards to your customer service job at Coke, obviously you had to be there for the majority of the day, but during periods where there was a little bit of downtime between calls or a lull or something, there's absolutely no objection to you brushing up on your coding skills on the side and just continuing to move closer to your goal while sustaining a job. And as it turned out, you were also being loyal to the company and eventually you got promoted within the company, so you were kind of building some reputation and trust with the company at the same time.

Michael Robards (11:25):
Yes, at freestyle they didn't seem to mind too much, but as I moved away from that position into the finance customer service position, I really didn't have time to do that.

Alex Booker (11:35):
Fair enough.

Michael Robards (11:35):
We were way busier. So that required me to learn to code during my off hours. And fortunately it was a mostly remote position, so I was at home so I didn't have to commute a whole lot. I had to go into the office two days a week, at least until coronavirus. So I was able to code during my lunch break, do a little bit before work, put in an hour or two after work, definitely on the weekends, that kind of stuff.

(11:56):
Learning how to code with a full-time job is tough and you definitely have to make sacrifices on your free time. But it's totally worth it. The more time I was able to put into it, the better I got, the better my skills got. And it definitely took longer than somebody who doesn't have a job or is working a part-time job. A lot of times I didn't think I was going to be able to get a software position at Coca-Cola. I continued my job, I didn't want to quit my job until I had another job lined up. I actually did apply to some other companies. I got actually pretty close to getting a software position at Comcast, but unfortunately they selected somebody else. But I still went through the input process up, they ended up told me I was their second choice. So I was like, I was that close to getting it.

Alex Booker (12:40):
Oh man, that's so tantalizing.

Michael Robards (12:41):
I know, right? I'm like, oh there was three people and I was second. So I was like, okay.

Alex Booker (12:43):
No, that's nice. Fair play to you, it happens.

Michael Robards (12:45):
Yeah, that's not bad. But I continued to work with Coca-Cola and I tried to do the job the best I could. It was a customer service so you have to deal with all of that. And it wasn't coding, but Coca-Cola does have a lot of resources. They have a whole LinkedIn learning that is free for employees, they have a lot of Microsoft learning tutorials that are given free to employees. So I took advantage of that, I participated in an Azure Cloud competition. You had to learn all this Azure stuff. I ended up coming second in that, I got a Microsoft tote bag or T-shirt or something. So the advantage of Coke, of being there, even though the job that I was at was not where I wanted to be, it was not in tech, it provided me the opportunity to add to my skills to get to a software position.

(13:27):
The software position that I got was actually the second software developer position I applied for. The first one I did, I talked to the hiring manager, he seemed to be pretty good, but I didn't get a formal interview. And then for the second one, I did. Now, I had applied to some software developer jobs way before that, but I didn't even get a response on it and this was back in '19 and '20. These are all internal worlds, but I didn't even get a response because I guess my resume was not anywhere near where it needed to be or whatever. But as I said, as I continued to develop skills and I started to put some more stuff on my resume, the hiring managers definitely seemed more interested in me.

(14:03):
And this one for my current job, my manager, he really liked my enthusiasm, he liked my diversity of study because really, I've studied data science, I've studied React, I have a little bit of View experience, I have some backend with MongoDB, I've got Azure skills. I definitely have tried to do several different things to make myself more of a valuable candidate, and my hiring manager really thought that was a good thing.

Alex Booker (14:28):
And you know how to build big biceps as well.

Michael Robards (14:31):
Exactly. Although I'm not such in great shape. That was back in '13 or '14, I've kind of lost all that unfortunately. I've got more of a programmer bod right now.

Jan Arsenovic (14:43):
Hello. If you're finding Michael's story inspiring or if you're looking to change careers yourself, I'd like to point out that we had a lot of career changers here on The Scrimba Podcast. There was Wemerson who realized he wanted to become a developer after 10 years of working in sales. There was Sylvia who worked at a big pharma company. There was Theo who changed a couple of paths, he was even a teacher. And there was also Chris who is a pastor turned developer.

Chris McCoy (15:11):
Since I'm also a pastor, I've been doing other stuff along with it and I've worked retail, mowed grass. But most recently I was doing food delivery and I just got really tired of it and I was like, "There has to be something that can engage my brain, something that's a little more fun." I think I was at my daughter's gymnastic class and I created a LinkedIn profile on my phone and the first person I added messaged me immediately, "Hey, I think somebody is trying to pretend to be you. Is that really you?" On LinkedIn. I wanted to fill up my feed with software stuff so when I'm on there, I'm learning. But then I also wanted the opportunity to see what other people are talking about and then take part in it. Every interview I got was through connecting in some way with somebody on LinkedIn as opposed to applying.

Jan Arsenovic (15:55):
I'm going to link Chris's show in the show notes as well as the interviews with some other career changers. So if you have time and if you need some inspiration, feel free to go through our backlog. There's a lot of really inspiring stories waiting for you to discover them.

Alex Booker (16:10):
I hope you'll pardon the interruption, I'll be right back with Michael in just a second. But first Jan, the producer, and I have a quick favor to ask of you.

Jan Arsenovic (16:19):
That's right, the best way to support us is to tell somebody about us. If you're enjoying the show, please share it somewhere. Be it on socials, on Discord or in person. If you know somebody who's learning to code, they could find the podcast useful as well. We are a weekly show and if you subscribe to the podcast, you will get a new interview in your feed every Tuesday. We haven't missed the week for a very, very, very long time, and with your support, we can keep it that way. You can follow the show wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you're feeling extra supportive, you can also leave us a rating or a review, it really helps. Next week on the show, software engineer, speaker and community enthusiast, Caitlyn Greffly.

Caitlyn Greffly (17:04):
It definitely was not a career that I set out to do from the beginning. I got my undergraduate degree in psychology and then I made the obvious leap to the beer industry. From there, I spent seven years in the beer industry and I was getting burnt out on that, and I was just trying to figure out some other career I could do. I was in my late twenties, I guess, at the time, and I wanted something that aligned with my life a little better than the crazy traveling life of a beer sales rep.

Jan Arsenovic (17:36):
That is next Tuesday on The Scrimba Podcast. And now we're back to the interview with Michael.

Alex Booker (17:43):
Sounds like you did a lot of things right. Is there anything you would've done differently?

Michael Robards (17:47):
I probably would've started applying to more companies more often. I was really just like shotgun, sending out resumes like crazy. It definitely wasn't an organized selective process. And also, I really probably could have networked more in the coding community or using LinkedIn. I didn't discover LinkedIn networking until literally last year. So networking is definitely something that I should have done more and probably still need to continue to do more but that's always been a weakness and I understand that's a common weakness. Let me do tell you an interesting story though. Literally the week that I'm about to start Coca-Cola as a temp back in 2017, I reached out to this guy, a senior developer who I used to work at, at the software company I worked at in Tallahassee. And I reached out on Facebook, he's working here in Atlanta with a startup. I talked to him and said, "Hey, I'm trying to get into code. Do you know of any companies that are hiring." Blah, blah blah.

(18:36):
And he comes back and goes, "You know what? Our company is looking for a position, would you want to apply?" And as it turned out, the interview, it was going to be a meeting with the CEO. Now granted, this is a startup, small company, whatever, 20-something employees. But the only time that I could schedule a meeting with the CEO was during the workday, which I was actually doing my first week training at Coca-Cola as a temp. And so I was like, "I just can't do it, unfortunately I took this job at Coca-Cola. I just can't make the interview." And so when I told my friend, he was like, "Well, that's really disappointing. Just based on your resume, we were thinking about considering you for an intern position." Now I don't know how much that was going to pay or anything like that, but if I would've taken that, if I would've ditched on Coke and taken that position, I may have been a developer starting in 2017.

(19:28):
But it's just one of those things. I made the choice. I was like, "Look, Coke is real [inaudible 00:19:34]." They were a startup, as it turns out, they ended up being okay and got bought out by an international company or something. But I decided to stay with Coke and that's the path I took. But I always kind of wonder, what if I would've gone that way? On the other hand, Coke is such a great employer, they're a major corporation. I'm very, very happy to be working for Coca-Cola, I'm super proud to be working for Coca-Cola. The benefits and the pay are amazing and they gave me my first chance, Coca-Cola gave me my first developer job, and I am completely grateful for that.

Alex Booker (20:03):
That's the tricky thing about careers, it's just a series of paths and branches and you always are at crossroads and have to make a decision, whether that's to leave, whether it's to stay, whether it's to join company A, whether it's to join company B. I truly believe that you're going to end up in more or less the same place anyway. It makes me wonder a little bit, you were doing customer service for... So you joined Coke in 2017, you were recently hired as a developer internally. Why do you think it took four and a half years? That's obviously quite a long period of time.

Michael Robards (20:31):
Coronavirus was a big part of that. I finished my Grow With Google Scholarship in late 2018. Around that time too is that my current job was going through a major reorganization and they had just slashed half of my department, and I had been retained and been given a position of more responsibility. And so that was in '19, I didn't want to jump ship. They told me how valuable an employee I was and they really need me to go through this transition, and that was easily a year. And so I was like, "Okay, fine." So I didn't even try to leave during that time. I was like, "I'm going to devote myself to this position." I wasn't a manager but I was kind of a leader among my coworkers. I was the top performer. They said I was the top performer by far, actually.

(21:13):
So I didn't want to just bail on them, but I'd still continue to code during '19. And in '20, of course, coronavirus. We didn't know what was going to go on, we're all working from home, it's crazy. And then also in '20, Coca-Cola does a significant reorg throughout their entire global system. I was like, "Okay." And so I just hung on through all that, just continue to work my job. We went through some changes, but it wasn't really until '21 that I really was like, "Okay, now it's time for me to really start trying to get a job as a developer, whether that be at Coca-Cola or not."

(21:47):
And that's when I really started to try to selectively apply. Comcast, I tried for a few positions at Coca-Cola. That didn't work out, but it just continued on through 2022 and eventually it hit and I got hired in August. My current position came open I think in June, and I applied and I reached out to the hiring manager and the process, all the whole formal interview. I think my formal interview was in early July, and then they hired me and my first day was August 1st. So it took what it took, but it was just persistence pretty much. And also I didn't want to leave Coca-Cola until I actually had something else lined up.

Alex Booker (22:22):
I think that's a very good idea, by the way. And leaving something good behind to pursue something better is very difficult. Let's talk a little bit about the internal transition because I wonder how you navigated that with your manager at the time, because I imagine that they were probably aware at some point that you were on the way out. And with regards to the internal hiring process, do some of your credentials come with you? Are you really starting from scratch of a resume, or are they maybe talking to people who know you in the company or maybe of giving you some preferential treatment because you have this reputation in the company?

Michael Robards (22:57):
Once I became a prone employee at Coke, I met with my manager to go over our development plan and I told him, I was like, "I want to be a developer, I want to work in IT." They call it IT, and he's like, "Sounds great. This is what you need to do." And he gave me some people to talk to. None of that really panned out unfortunately. I did talk to a couple people, none of that really panned out but he knew that I wanted to be a developer so they would support me in any kind of education. I learned Agile during this time, when I did the Azure Cloud competition or whatever, they fully supported me during that. As long as it didn't drastically take away from my work hours. It was maybe an hour or two, here and there.

(23:33):
One time I took a... Microsoft had a all day long Azure class where they taught you everything to get you prepped up for the Azure Fundamentals certification. So that was cool. Side note, I failed the certification when I tried taking it, but I studied what they told me to. So yeah, Coca-Cola was fully aware that I wanted to be a developer, but a lot of it is up to me to learn the skills, to apply for the jobs, to reach out when the job is posted on the internal job board, which is Workday. One thing that we have is we have the hiring manager of who it is. So we being as an internal, you can reach out to them directly and say, "Hey, I'm interested in this position. Can we have a brief 15 minute meeting to discuss the position?" And so I was able to do that for three jobs.

(24:14):
One was actually a non-developer job because I was just trying to move up from my team. And then I met with the other two hiring managers, including the one I got hired. And from there you can get references. I got references from my managers about how good of a performer I was at my current job. I was able to look at the hiring managers org to see the developers underneath them. Fortunately when I met with a hiring manager, I got to meet another of the developers, so I got to talk to him and they asked me some questions like that. That went well so they said, "Hey, tell you what, let's send you this coding challenge and then complete that and then go from there." And it was simple, something about finding the sums of two items in an array or something that's pretty simple. And I wrote it in Python too, just because I'd been studying Python lately.

(24:59):
And so after that I had another meeting where I met one of the marketing guys on the team. And then from there, then I got my formal interview. The formal interview is what they call a panel interview. It's the hiring manager and then two other people on the team. And I got the job.

Alex Booker (25:12):
Did you ever feel imposter syndrome around this time? It strikes me as particularly scary because you are leaving a job you know you're really, really, really good at behind to then go and take a chance on development.

Michael Robards (25:27):
Oh absolutely. I had a really bad case of it last week. So I started in August and a lot of it is just getting ramped up. I've been doing a lot of Adobe Enterprise platform training because that's one way that Coke is moving into. And that's one of the main reasons they hired me for this position, is to work on the Adobe experience platform. And so I'm doing a lot of tutorial training, I'm doing some instructor-led remote training and all that's good and everything like that. But last month they put me on a real project where we're coding and it's all JavaScript, which I'm like, "Okay, great. Yeah, no problem, JavaScript." But the code was based upon a third party vendor that had written it. And so I'm going through the code base and we had a meeting where one of the guys who developed it went through it and described it and stuff, but it's a significant size and I'm going to learn it and everything, I'm just like, "Wow."

(26:11):
And it's a lot harder when you're building a project on your own, and then you're presented with a huge codes base and you've got to figure out how to work and then they ask you to do stuff and then you've got to figure out how to make it work with that. It's very challenging when you're a junior programmer. But I put my head down, I focus, ask questions, and I figured it out. It's very challenging at first, but you just keep at it and you ask a lot of questions, you work through the code and you get the job done.

(26:37):
But it is scary because a lot of times I'm like, "Can I do this? I don't know if I can do this." You just got to take a deep breath and just work it out. And like I said, fortunately I'm able to work with one of my coworkers who is also new, we help each other out a lot. There's some things she's very strong with. Yeah, there's more things I'm strong with so we help each other out and it's really good. I'm almost completely remote, but man, sometimes I wish I was kind of in the office where I could lean over to the next desk and say, "Hey, can you help me out with this?" Rather than have do everything over Teams and shared screens. Since my team is across the world, it's not like we can get the whole team into the office.

Alex Booker (27:09):
I know what you're saying completely. Working remote is such a privilege, but at the same time it can be so tempting to want to sit next to somebody and just parrot their screen. Maybe there'll be opportunities to work hybrid in the future or something, but I know you're loving working remote at the time being. I wanted to ask about this person, sounds like you joined it around the same time and you mentioned that she has some strengths and you have some strengths and you kind of help each other out. What are her strengths?

Michael Robards (27:32):
She's been a developer for about three years now before she joined Coke. She's pretty young, she graduated college and then she got a job as a developer right out of college, and for [inaudible 00:27:42] Omega two or three years and then she joined Coke. And actually her title is senior software developer. So she is definitely a better coder than I am, can understand the code base more. She's very strong in JavaScript. I consider myself to be pretty strong in JavaScript too, so our skills are pretty equal there. But she can think as a programmer a little bit better than I can as far as the problem solving aspect of it, like saying, "Okay, this is what we needed to do, these are the methods, functions that we're being given."

(28:09):
She can help out with those aspects, and I have different strengths. My CSS skills are definitely superior to hers, I'm a little bit better at styling. There's some fringe stuff with coding that I knew about, or maybe with MPM, I think I'm a little stronger with MPM than she is. She's a little bit stronger with GiD than I am. So it's pretty cool, so we make a pretty good team.

Alex Booker (28:29):
Yeah, totally. That's what makes the best teammates. If you both know the same stuff then you're not very useful to each other.

Michael Robards (28:34):
Yeah, definitely.

Alex Booker (28:35):
This all sounds incredible and I'm just so happy that you completed the transition. I love that you did it at your own pace as well, and you've built a very robust position for yourself. I think what you've built is very sustainable because you've built this depth of knowledge, I think you know your stuff really well. With all the customer service you did and also working in the food industry, there's no doubt that had an impact on your communication skills and the way you approach interviews and carry yourself around people and stuff. It sounds like you're working with just an awesome base. And to top it all off, there are different types of companies, and I've always worked at startups by the way, and they've always appealed to me. But the downside of startups, I've learned, this idea of really huge companies where people typically stay at the company for 5, 10, 15, 20 years, people don't stay in startups that long and there's a lot of reasons for that.

(29:22):
Things change and you no longer fit in there, your skills or your interests or whatever. And sometimes startups fail. There are certainly big companies when you look on LinkedIn, the attrition is more like decades instead of a couple of years like it tends to be in startups. And it definitely sounds like Coca-Cola is one of those companies, and it sounds like they achieve that by having supportive managers who support your career goals, offering you the resources that you want. These are great to know about, Michael, because it shows us what to look out for.

Michael Robards (29:49):
Oh, definitely. Yeah, I am grateful that I got a position at such a large company like Coca-Cola. It seems like they're a company that are recession-proof. You never fully have job security no matter where you go, but I'm confident that if I want to stay at Coke for 5, 10 years, that I would have the opportunity to do so, as long as I kept working hard and kept growing my skills and everything.

(30:13):
That's one thing about Coca-Cola, they're all about growth, they'd tell us that all the time. So they want you to be personal growth, they want to grow the company and hopefully you can do that at the same time. And we just had a meeting where they said that even through the great resignation, Coke still had very, very few turnover. I think like 91% of the Coca-Cola employees they surveyed were proud to work at Coca-Cola, and I'm definitely one of those. I remember doing the survey, I was like, "Hey, yeah, I'm proud to work at Coca-Cola." There's definitely advantage working for a major corporation like this. I don't think there's anything wrong with startups, it's just a different scene. And then you hear about people working at fan companies and leaving them after a year or two. So who's to say what the future's going to hold? But I know I do love working at Coca-Cola and I plan on working for Coca-Cola for as long as I possibly can.

Alex Booker (31:01):
With that in mind, what are your career goals going forward?

Michael Robards (31:04):
Since I'm an older developer, since I just started, I want to become a senior developer and maybe possibly move into a management position. But my time is kind of limited, I'm looking to retire when I'm 65, so that only gives me about 15 years or so.

Alex Booker (31:21):
Oh, just 15 years. That's loads of time.

Michael Robards (31:25):
I know it is. So just to keep progressing as a software developer, and if a management position opens up and it seems like the way to go, maybe take that route. I have had management experience previously and I believe it's something that I can do. So just wait to see if I just become a rockstar coder or some kind of a software manager. Software development management or something.

Alex Booker (31:47):
Do you know what's so cool about coding, if you keep doing this with the intensity you're doing it right now and the learning you're doing right now, in 10 years time, if you put yourself who has 11 years experience, you're maybe in your sixties at that point, next to somebody who's also in their sixties and has been doing this since they were 18, I don't think you would be able to tell the difference. I don't think there's a huge gap between 10 years and 50 years of professional experience.

Michael Robards (32:13):
Yeah, yeah. It's because the technology's changed so much, right?

Alex Booker (32:16):
Yeah, exactly.

Michael Robards (32:16):
Especially with the Adobe stuff that I'm learning. This is a hot new technology that's coming out right now that a lot of major corporations are taking advantage of, and the way that Coke give me the opportunity to, now granted, this isn't straight coding, but there is a development component to it. They have a developer role for this software platform. So just by learning those skills is going to make me so much of a valuable employee to Coca-Cola and not to mention that it's a completely transferable skill. So it's just another technology that I'm learning to do that can just provide me with, it's a brand new technology that I'm learning. So how awesome is that?

Alex Booker (32:50):
Right on.

Michael Robards (32:51):
Just keep on learning. That's one thing about developing, you just keep on learning. Don't stop learning.

Alex Booker (32:56):
Keep on learning. I think that's a wonderful note to end on. So with that said, Michael, thank you so much for joining me on The Scrimba Podcast.

Michael Robards (33:05):
Ah, thank you so much, Alex. I had a great time.

Jan Arsenovic (33:09):
That's it for this episode of The Scrimba Podcast. Thank you for listening and make sure to check out the show notes for all the ways you can connect with Michael. If you want to ask him any questions, you can also find him in the Scrimba community. If you made it this far, please consider subscribing. You can subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, and that way you can keep us going and help us not break our weekly streak. We haven't missed a Tuesday since late spring of 2021, that's a lot of Tuesdays. The show is hosted by Alex, I'm your producer Jan, and we will see you next week.