My relationship with coding

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash
Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

I am going to tell you the story of how programming became an essential part of my life. Starting with sharing what gets me out of bed every morning, transitioning into tales of how it all started and finishing with the story of ending up in Sweden.

Let’s start with why

Making an impact

Through writing a “couple” lines of code I can make a tangible impact on how people live and help them work or spend their free time more efficiently.

The best part of it? Everything is scalable and the number of people I could potentially impact is astonishing.

With great power comes great responsibility though. It is always important to work for a good cause and the code we are writing should impact people in a positive way. I would never write code for casinos, companies which scam their customers or a product I don’t believe in, just to name a few.

Constant learning

Technology is getting better every day. If I want to stay relevant to the market, I need to keep my skills up to date. This also means that the work I am doing is not boring, requirements are always changing and my day-to-day life is not monotonous.

Huge potential

Fortunately, the demand for developers is extremely high right now. I get to choose how and where to do my work. Companies are on a constant lookout for new engineers.

Relocating to a new city or working remotely from anywhere, small startups or big corporations, backend or frontend, web or mobile are just a few of the options developers have.


With these being said, let’s jump back into time and find out how the journey began. No, it is not going to be a story about me developing full-fledged applications at age seven 😉

Back in the days

I was always interested in technology from the moment I got my first computer at age 10. But for the first 5—6 years, my interest got consumed by video games, as is probably normal for such a young kid. After 2 years, when we finally got access to the Internet, I felt that a completely different world opened up in front of me. For the first week, I remember asking Google just about any question I could come up with.

The first encounter with programming did not happen until I got into high school though. These days, we had around six classes every week touching various parts of information technology, from handlings spreadsheets to writing small applications. It was intense.

I liked coding, however, I could not really get a grasp of how or why the whole thing works, as a consequence I rarely did anything more than what my teachers demanded from us.

4 years of high school passed like a summer storm and I needed to make one of the biggest decisions of my life. Where next?

Becoming a dental technician, studying finance, getting into management or writing code for a living all had the same appeal to me.

Honestly, I had no idea what path to take…

The tipping point

One evening, while I was preparing for the graduation exam, I had the “aha” moment which influenced a lot the decision I was going to take. I finally understood the control flow statements and the lines of code on the screen started to make sense. Control flow statements are one of the most used and most important concepts in coding. Getting them right is crucial.

With this new perspective, understanding more difficult concepts got simpler and suddenly, applying to an engineering faculty almost seemed obvious.

The school did not turn out as expected

I arrived with high expectations for the program. Naively, I thought they are going to give me a clear path to follow, teach me a bunch of interesting, up to date technologies and make me an expert engineer.

However, after a couple of years, I started to realize that this is not going to work, at least not in the ways I expected. The curriculum was too broad, technologies were often outdated and it was a lot of math, physics, and electronics.

At that time I thought the whole thing is a waste of time and I started to question myself if it’s worth continuing…

Why did it matter?

In retrospect, I came to the conclusion that it was 100% worth it, but for reasons totally different from what I initially assumed.

First, moving to a new, vibrant city opened up my eyes to all the possibilities out there. I discovered traveling, started reading non-fiction, improved my language skills and experienced living by myself, just to name a few.

Secondly, the university gave me a shallow introduction of the array of options I can choose from as an engineer. This allowed me to experience a lot of things and see which ones I like the most.

Finally, the diploma thesis project helped me to learn full-stack web development with JavaScript from zero. I was concentrated on this project for months, often working on it 10 hours a day. It was worth the effort though, as I was able to present this application to companies after graduation and show my competence as a fresh engineer.

The big move

I graduated from university, I did not want to attend a masters program and I always wanted to live abroad. It was time for a change. I was looking for product companies with a startup culture searching for (full-stack) JavaScript developers.

I was open to any place in Europe if the above-mentioned criteria were satisfied. Berlin, Lisbon, Oslo, Amsterdam, Gothenburg, and Stockholm were just a few of the places I got in touch with.

Long story short, thanks to Anna, an amazing recruiter, I ended up in Stockholm at a small startup with a lot of potentials.

Now

The company is called Relatable, we turn influencer marketing into a global scalable media channel and it is an amazing place to work.

We are working with cutting edge technologies on our product, it is remote friendly, we have amazing offices and we are working with some of the biggest brands, just to name the top reasons why I love being here.

At Relatable, I am doing full stack development, mostly Javascript with React on the frontend and Node on the backend. However, because we are a small team, my tasks also include taking care of deployments, improving our infrastructure and being involved in product decisions.

What is in the making?

Where am I going to be in 3 years? What am I going to work on? Will I still live in Sweden? I don’t know where life will lead me, I just know that I am going to strive to be happier and better every day.

I want to use the possibility of being able to work from anywhere, pack my bags and travel around the World at least for a couple of years more.

I would love to help folks who want to learn to code, inspire people to try the nomad lifestyle and share the ways I am growing as a person.

The story continues. I don’t know where it is going to bring me, but I will do my best to make the most out of it.

Final thoughts

Everything happens for a reason and I would not change a single thing. The mistakes thought me valuable lessons and they are an essential part of the whole journey.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” - Steve Jobs

What about you? What’s your story with programming? What was the biggest “aha” moment you’ve had? What was the tipping point for you? Why do you like programming? Would you like to learn to programme? Let me know, I would love to hear some of your stories!

Thanks for reading! 🙏

Thanks to my friend, Zoltán for editing this article, it made a huge difference.

Róbert Istók
A personal blog by Róbert Istók about coding, traveling, habit building, and much more (Psst... I am open to opportunities.)