Giancarlo Galliani — Front-end Developer

Giancarlo is one of those codebar legends who started attending as a student then came back as a coach. He is currently a junior front end web developer at Vitamin London.

You can catch Giancarlo on the internet at:

@juancarlito88 | ggalliani.com

What did you want to be growing up?

From as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher! My parents were both secondary school teachers, and I always remembered the impression they had on their students. That, the obvious holiday benefits, and a sense that I’d be a ‘natural’ as a teacher since most of my relatives worked in education meant that I felt it was my passion from a young age… I might have been a bit misguided.

When did your interest in tech start?

When I was really young, as far back as I can remember, I loved computers. My Dad brought home a Commodore 64 and I loved playing games on it, I must have been five or six years old? I would even read computer-related books, and tinker with all the settings I’d read about and try new things. I took optional tech-related courses through secondary school and university and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed them more than the Biology stuff I was on — I found them more fun (which meant I also found them easier). The passion’s always been there, I just never had the amazing idea to make my career revolve around it!

You use to be a science teacher, please tell us more about your transition to becoming a developer?

In early 2016 I was in my third year as a secondary level science teacher in an inner-city London school, and I was really struggling to find fulfilment in what I was doing. I decided I needed a big change, and a lot of friends suggested I move to a tech-related career since I seemed to be well suited for it (aka I knew how to fix the photocopier).

After some consideration I decided to focus on becoming a web developer — there were plenty of free resources available to learn, and my unscientific research suggested a lot of developers are self-taught (I think it’s something like two-thirds?). My friend linked me an article called “How I learnt to code in a scarily short amount of time”and after reading it I thought “Hey, maybe I should try this too!” I did Codecademy’s Javascript course and then eventually moved on to freeCodeCamp.

For a solid three months or so, my free time was mostly made up of coding. I’d get home from a day of teaching and head to a local coffee shop to work on my latest project. This might sound gruelling and horrible but, to be honest, I loved it! I’d look forward to it all day (especially during those particularly challenging classes). Not to be schmaltzy, but my only regret was not knowing about codebar at this point, since I didn’t really know anyone else learning at the same time and could only get help on the internet (namely Stack Overflow, my BFF).

I learned loads, some things the hard way, some the easy way, but I got to a point where I had enough stuff in my portfolio to apply for jobs. It then came time where I had to submit my notice as a teacher, and I went and did it, even though I didn’t have a job lined up yet. It was scary and stressful, but like the article had said, it put pressure on me to put myself out there even though I didn’t feel close to ready. I was attending codebar at this point though, and I gained a lot of support from the coaches there, so I just kept trying.

It took some unsuccessful attempts, but after gaining some internship experience I landed my current role as a developer at Vitamin, a digital agency in Victoria. And that’s where I’m at today! A lot can happen in a year…

What was your first development job?

I worked as an intern for a couple of months at a media agency in Fitzrovia. It was absolutely jarring since I started it two weeks after finishing teaching, and I had to hit the ground running as I had to learn the joys of PHP and also how to work with the Facebook Javascript SDK, among countless other things. It was a great experience though!

What is your favourite thing about being a developer?

A lot of things! I like getting a design and having a blank canvas (a figurative one, or maybe a Javascript one) to work with. I like that sometimes I can just start coding at work with some music on and the next thing you know its lunch. I like having technical conversations with other developers. I like knowing that, really, I can build anything I feel like if I really want to. I like being able to send a URL to my mom in Canada and say “I built that!”

The thing I love most though is, as a speaker at a recent codebar Monthly put it, the ‘power-up’ feeling you get when you accomplish something you couldn’t do before.

The thing I love most though is, as a speaker at a recent codebar Monthly put it, the ‘power-up’ feeling you get when you accomplish something you couldn’t do before. You get so excited you do a little fist-pump at your desk, that kind of feeling. I believe those moments shouldn’t go away through a developer’s career­ — there’s no fun in developing if you don’t want to try new things, make some mistakes, and then eventually get it right!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

When I was an intern my company was asked by an airline to build a Snake-style game for their advertising campaign, except instead of a snake it was a line of planes you move around the screen! It was fun since everyone in the office started playing it and seeing who could have the highest score.

How did you get involved with codebar?

I had heard about codebar from a fellow coder at another meetup, and I had so many Javascript projects that I wanted to get some help with. I loved the first session so much I came back as a student pretty much every week. It was so cool to be in actual environments developers do work in and to be able to chat with other professionals as well as fellow students going on a similar journey to me.

After getting a job I took a few months of codebar hiatus (it was rough but I had Monthlies to tide me over). I then returned as a coach, which has been awesome!

Why do you keep coming back to codebar?

As a student, I kept coming back for the support. It was so great to be able to have a professional look at your code and work through challenges. I also just love the codebar community — I’ve been to a few meetups around London but none are as welcoming, fun, and supportive as codebar is.

Now that I’m a coach, I keep coming back because I love teaching people new stuff and helping them get ‘power-up’ moments of their very own! I guess my teaching experience comes in handy here, but the students I coach now are so eager to learn that I think I’m finally getting some fulfilment I never got as a teacher. I owe it to codebar for my career change, so now I get to give back which is just the best!

What are your plans for the future?

I do miss Canada so at some point in the future I’ll have to return home to Toronto, which thankfully is a little tech hub of its own. I’m not sure if there’s anything like codebar over there but if there isn’t, well, I might just have to start a Toronto chapter!

What advice would you give to aspiring developers?

The thing I always end up saying to students is ‘the easiest way to tell if there’s a mistake in your code is if the text doesn’t look like it’s the right colour’.

I’d say build as much stuff as you can. There are loads of resources to read/watch online but I learned the most by actually building things, discovering bugs, fixing them, etc. The more projects you build the more you end up knowing, and you’ll soon find yourself breezing through something that used to be a challenge.

The more projects you build the more you end up knowing.

When it comes to looking for a job, don’t doubt yourself. Breaking in isn’t the easiest thing and I felt completely unqualified when I first applied for jobs, and I could have benefitted by applying for more and doing more interviews or coding challenges. It’s a lot harder to succeed if you don’t try and put yourself out there. Besides that, being someone whose passionate and willing to learn could go a lot further these days than someone who has tons of experience. Just keep at it and you’ll get there!