Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Hello, I’m Astrid, a full-stack web developer. I started working in web development in 2010, first as a web integrator and then over the course of my career I touched a bit of all kinds of web development. From .net to wordpress templating. I worked as an employee for most of my career, but 5 years ago I made the jump to freelancing and my life has been so much better for it. I also dared to launch my own project perzik.xyz a few years ago. And I couldn’t be more happy with that choice!
What is your job (or specialisation) and what does a typical (work)day look like for you?
My work day depends whether I’m working remotely on a project or if I’m joining a team on site for development work. I’m currently working from home, so I’ll describe a typical work from home day:
I wake up, go for a 20 to 30 min walk (mostly inside on my walking pad, in summer outside), eat my oatmeal breakfast and start to work. I check my emails/slack for any client feedback or emergencies. Then, I assign the jira tickets I want to tackle that day (or continue to work on something from the day before, but I do try to break down my work in smaller steps, I find this easier to digest).
My approach is to work issue per issue, and take a break between each jira ticket (if it’s a longer one: a break every h). So every hour I annoy my cats a bit or do a house chore (put in a laundry load, dishwasher, …). I take a 1 to 2h break at lunch, I cook something. After that I continue to work some more.
So my day is basically: jira ticket -> write code -> test code -> create pull request -> review pull request -> merge to master -> test some more, and every other day i’ll push something in production. I push to production in the morning so that I have time to address if issues would arise, also never push to prod on a friday.
After pushing to production I sent the client an email with an overview of what went to production. These Jira tickets are based upon requests submitted by clients. They request a feature / project. I analyze the feature / project, outline the requirements (front-end, back-end, database), break down the necessary steps needed and create jira tasks for myself.
When I’m testing, I add the bugs I find to jira tickets.
How about when you’re not working? Any hobbies or interests you’d like to tell us about?
I like to go to the movies and read sci-fi (or feminist) books. Go for walks or do pilates. I also work on my personal project: perzik.xyz.
What or who got you initially interested in coding and / or pursuing a career in tech?
As a kid, I used to create Harry Potter websites, it felt very natural for me to go study something in that direction. I did my bachelor in Graphic and Digital Media, Multimedia at Artevelde and after my internship I started working for agencies and tech companies.
If you look back on when you first started out. What advice would you give yourself?
Something that I still need to tell myself sometimes: You are capable of doing the job.
Research the average pay for the sector and job you are going to do, so you know what you can ask.
What made you switch to freelance?
Agency over my hours and workplace. Being able to work from home. The variety in projects.
What are some important lessons you have learned related to freelancing?
- How to manage your money: making sure you have some money on the side to bridge a month or so between projects.
- Learning how to deal with rejection:, as a freelancer you’re constantly looking for projects (long term or short) so you have to put yourself out there. You learn that rejection is not that bad, there’s enough work, so you’ll find something.
If anyone wants to switch to freelancing, what advice would you give them?
Do it! If you’re not confident in starting full time, start gradually. Part-time or after hours.
If you’re hesitant to quit your job, or consider changing to the freelance status, you can always start out by using tentoo or another payrolling service. That way you keep your benefits until you’re more established and confident.
If you’re looking for freelance work: browse linkedin and hiring websites as to where they are looking for people, then send your portfolio/resume. They might be open for someone to help with the work until they find someone permanent (or they might keep you on).
You can also connect with recruiters on linkedin, they sometimes have open freelance positions.
What is your specialty in the full stack spectrum? In other words, where do you draw the line in terms of services and specialisation?
How did perzik come to exist and do you have certain goals set out for it?
I wanted to create a safe space for women and queer people where they can share their more intimate pictures without the censorship or negativity from mainstream social media. My goal with perzik is to help people feel comfortable in their nude body & with their sexuality. To create that safe space where it’s ok to share those aspects of yourself.
Another goal is to make people more aware of consent, it’s not because someone posts a spicy picture that they are asking to be objectified. There are a few consent systems built into perzik, and I hope that this helps people to understand consent more clearly.
Has working on perzik teached you any new skills or boosted your development skills in a direction you otherwise might not have explored?
It made me confident in my skills, as in: never before I created something from scratch, where I had to decide and make everything from database design to ux. So it made me confident in my abilities as a full-stack developer. Before perzik I was mostly doing front-end work, but working on perzik made me realize I’m fully capable of designing a database and creating an API.
What is your ideal project? (Question from Leonor D)
A project that spikes my interest, where I have a lot of agency on what is happening with the project and where the team gets to decide on the features and future features.
What made you join the women.code(be) community?
I wanted to feel connected with other women in tech, not to feel alone in this male dominated work field.
How could the tech industry be more inclusive for women and minorities?
(short version) I think it first starts as an image and marketing problem: why is the tech industry not attracting that many women?
We have this idea that programmers are mostly men and is a nerdy, (difficult) and intensive job. It’s marketed as that, so hiring managers are looking for that, writing their job offers to attract people like that, so they are attracting people like that. Whilst I think programming can be very creative and is also focused on problem solving.
To attract more women, I think we need to focus on the areas of what a tech job is, what is interesting to women and other minorities. What do they value and where do these values align with a job in tech. That could be working from home, creativity... . Because the general image of someone working in tech is often man, companies and hiring managers have this idea that they want to hire a man. (The amount of times I read a job listing for a web developer where they only use HE).
So I think to be more inclusive, is to change the image of what a programmer or anyone else working in tech is. I think initiatives such as women.code(be) are great for this, bringing awareness. For companies and recruiters it’s to adjust the image of a programmer they have, to be open towards women and minorities, to accept that they may have different values and needs, and to adjust the job offer (and place) towards those values and needs.
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