This software engineer is building a development YouTube channel in his spare time

Published in June 2020

Mario Laurich

Software Engineer

14 years of development experience

Computer science degree

CSS/SCSSJavascriptVueJSLunuxApachePHPTYPO3HTML

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live in Germany with my wife and little son and try to spend as much time as possible with my family. I do my best to keep everything in balance. Concentrating on just one thing in life doesn't feel right for me.

The first line of HTML code I have written was in 1999. It was the time of chunky and ugly websites where you used tables to divide and arrange the entire site.

In the '90s, the main job in my spare time was to play video games. However, I also wanted to build a website (of course a website about video games). With zero knowledge of web development, I built this ugly thing. At that time, I didn't even know that you need a domain and a provider where you had to upload the code. It was expensive at the time, so my first website never saw the light of day.

This first website project was the spark that introduced me to web development and an apprenticeship as an IT specialist.

You are currently building a YouTube channel about coding. It's awesome! Can you tell us a bit about it?

I started with YouTube just for fun. My first videos were without explanation, just me coding and background music. But there were a handful of people who found my videos helpful. So I bought a microphone and started putting more effort into my videos. 

This is my new passion now - teaching and helping people to learn new skills.

The most challenging aspect for me is to find time to make tutorial videos as I have a full-time job and family. The coding part for creating a video is only about 15 % of the work for me. I spend a lot of time planning the video, as I don't want to waste the viewer's time. This is one of the most time-consuming parts besides cutting the footage and creating thumbnails and other graphics for the video.

I currently don't have a paid course, and I don't plan to do one in the near future. All of my tutorials are freely accessible on my YouTube channel.

How do you balance a full-time job and working on your YouTube channel?

Everyone has different commitments in their lives. But we all only have 24 hours in a day.

It's essential to make it a habit. I sit down once a day for 1 hour and do something for my side-project.

How did you get your first job as a developer?

During my apprenticeship, one of my instructors invited me to work at his company. The funny thing is this instructor was one of my neighbours. It was a small company with only five people. Two of them were the CEOs. I think it was the best way to start as a developer. With so few people, you have to do something in every area (backend/frontend), and this gives you the opportunity to learn a lot.

I absolutely agree with Mario. In my first job as a software developer, I was in a 4 person company. This exposed me to a lot of new things which I probably wouldn't have learnt otherwise.

What advice would you give to other developers who are getting started on their journey in web development?

Code. Code. Code. Eat something, preferably healthy, and don't forget to sleep. 😉

I recommend starting with frontend development. It's more comfortable, in my opinion, because you have visual feedback and is not as abstract as backend technologies. Go to your favourite page and look at the source code and try to build a static version from this site. Don't worry about how it should look (UI/UX), but concentrate on building this page, just with HTML and CSS.

Don't pick up a framework from the start. The basics are essential. You can build everything with the essentials. All of these different technologies today can be overwhelming. Many web developers with years of experience started only with HTML, CSS, and Javascript (the cool ones used JQuery).

Furthermore, the first step is always to write code that fulfils the specifications of the tasks. Beginners quit at that point and move on to the next thing. More experienced programmers know that the first iteration is just the first iteration. It works. Congratulations! But you are not done. Now, make it better. Part of that process is defining what "better" means. Is it worthy of making it faster? Or to make it more reusable? More reliable? The answer varies with each application, but the process is the same.

I recommend you to check out the MoSCoW method - it's a technique for prioritisation in project management - it's something that I still use in my own projects.

From your own experience, what soft skills should developers have in order to succeed as software engineers?

Don't be afraid to ask. No matter if you are just at the beginning of your journey or you already have years of experience. Communication is essential.

Be patient with your customers or team members. Not everyone understands how difficult programming is, or how long code takes to write.

Keep your mind open to new ideas. Not just from your team but also the rest of the company and your clients. They could teach you new things. Seek and accept input from others. Clients are the ones who use your product, so they are the best people to tell you what works and what they need.

Try to accept criticism with appreciation and be aware of your first reaction of defending yourself. Turn the negative into a positive. Learn from criticism and be a better person. Listen and keep improving. You are not your code. Remember that the entire point of a review is to find problems, and problems will be found. Don't take it personally when one is uncovered.

What are you up to now other than the YouTube channel?

I have a personal website. It's currently only one page, but I plan to expand it even further. Maybe I'll start a blog in the near future.

Can you share some of your favourite resources for learning VueJS and web development?

There are tons of stuff. But my all-time favourite is and was selfhtml.org. Unfortunately, the website is only available in German.

I like to read documentations and can recommend using all the official stuff for each language or technology. And besides, there is a lot of free material on YouTube. No need to pay a single coin to learn new stuff. I can recommend using sources from different channels. Everyone has a different way of solving a certain problem - it's good to get a different insight into a specific topic.

Thank you for the amazing interview, Mario. Make sure to follow him on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can also subscribe to his newsletter.

Have a nice day, everyone! 👋

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