Welcome to another Learner Success Story interview! Today we’ll be having a chat with Christian Salazar Amaya, a self-taught developer involved in game, web, and mobile development.
Thanks for joining us, Christian! We’d like to start first by just asking what got you into programming and development?
First of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity. I also want to congratulate Zenva and all who make it up for the quality of the academic content.
I would have loved to start in this incredible world of development and programming when I was a child or adolescent. However, unlike other developers and programmers who start their first lines of code when they are very young, in my country, Ecuador, current technological development is very low compared to other countries in the region and the world. Until about 10 years ago, you had to be a university graduate to have the knowledge of making a simple web page. Today, the knowledge is global and more democratized – so anyone can access it over the internet.
Before 2010 in Ecuador, and I believe in other Latin American countries, being a programmer was considered a profession more like many others. We knew that geniuses in the United States created incredible things, that they became millionaires thanks to those inventions, and that doing something like that was almost impossible. After 2010, important things began to happen in the technological world. Applications like Uber & Airbnb, new libraries like React, new frameworks like Angular and Flutter, and video game engines like Unity and Unreal were created.
On YouTube, “elite” programmers from the United States and Europe began teaching coding classes for free, creating online coding academies and boot camps.
My story as a programmer was born after all that technological boom, no more than 2 years ago at the end of 2019.
As we understand it, you’ve learned a lot through self-study, which eventually led to you becoming a freelancer. How did you go about transitioning from learner to freelancer?
My path began by watching YouTube videos, downloading PDFs, and reading graduate theses by graduates of software development. I knew I would not understand anything, but once I knew the names of the programming languages I had to learn, I took paid courses on platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, Zenva, Udacity, Platzi, Edtem, etc.
Thanks to all that knowledge, I started selling my freelance services.
What sorts of challenges have you faced working in development professionally?
There’s been all kinds of challenges – independent challenges, such as learning a new language or framework, to group challenges. I even have had to outsource to one or two programmers for specific tasks.
What sorts of projects are you working on at this point?
Currently, I have several projects going on. Unfortunately, not having more than 24 hours per day is a problem. However, among some of those are:
- Educational application for children of multiple areas
- Mobile application for food delivery at home
- Mobile dating app
- Online programming academy
- Software development company (to formalize my freelance services)
You will find more information about the educational application in particular here.
What have been the most difficult aspects about working on all these projects?
Each case covers a certain difficulty – certain languages and frameworks.
In general, I can say that the most difficult thing is to develop the back-end & the business logic on the server, and develop a good user experience and interface to guarantee a high user retention rate.
Unfortunately, time is something that plays against these projects, and the lack of capital for marketing campaigns – which is vital for any technological product. That is why now I am more focused on launching my software development company and the online programming academy to capitalize on myself and to be able to develop the other projects.
We’re very excited to hear about your projects, and are happy you’ve found Zenva a useful resource as you continue your development journey. How would you say our courses helped you as you expand your skills?
The knowledge acquired in Zenva helped me with two specific issues:
- Develop a video game for a client
- Optimize the code in my educational app project
We’re just about out of time here, so we want to ask just one last question. Christian, do you have any tips for aspiring developers about self-studying or how to transition into freelancing?
It is a fascinating question, and the truth is also complicated. There is no magic formula, but I can surely say that if you are PASSIONATE about technology and programming, learning and developing new things will be like playing PS5 all day. There will be bad days where you will not know what to do to program a certain thing, much in the same way when you get stuck in a level of your favorite game. But after several days the solution always arrives.
That brings our chat with Christian to a close! We wish Christian the best of luck with his projects, and can’t wait to see how everything comes along.
Want a new educational app in your life? Be sure to check out Christian’s Space Puppy Academy Kids website.