Hi Ermiya! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about you and your background?
My name is Ermiya Eskandary and, at the core, I'm crazy about all things to do with tech. I was introduced to the world of programming in C on embedded systems at the age of 8. C is the language that runs the world essentially - everything from operating systems (e.g., Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, etc.) & embedded systems (e.g., vehicles, cameras, televisions, appliances etc.) to device drivers, developer tools, compilers for other languages and kernel development.
Since then, I've moved on to become a professional software developer, with a passion for building the most secure, high-performing, resilient, and cost-efficient systems possible. I'm genuinely excited to see how the world is going to change over the coming years.
How did you discover your passion for engineering and software development? How did you settle on the technologies you work with each day now?
I've always said that I'm a very logical person - it continues to get me through every problem that has been thrown at me. Software development, putting people skills aside, is just pure logic and problem-solving to me - I just love being given a starting and ending point and then figuring the way between these 2 points. It was just a perfect match for me. I guess it's a matter of trying everything till you find your passion, right? I did the same - I tried mostly everything including ethical hacking which meant accidentally freezing every single computer in Manchester's library domain, games development in Unity & open-source development on an AI-driven bot for a then-popular game.
I've now eventually settled on backend development, mostly using .NET Core & AWS. It's just problems and problems without the infrastructure & design headaches - heaven for me!
On your LinkedIn, you say “I will also probably pass away before touching PHP code.” Can I ask why? 😂
You've gone right for the difficult question here!
You'll find tons of things online for the pros & cons of PHP but ultimately for me, it's a language that has suffered from poor legacy language design, it's an absolute mess 😂 & listen, I just hate it. Code in any other language, heck even Ruby 👀 and you'll understand what I mean.
You’re super active in the tech community, how do you find your own balance between work and helping to create the next generation of technical experts!?
Maintaining balance in anything ultimately comes down to sacrifice. I love helping in general, especially when it's something to do with tech - for events which I do through STEM learning, I typically use my annual leave to cover for that.
For other mentoring that I do off the record, I typically use evenings, weekends, lunchtimes, early mornings etc. to work for my mentees.
For activity on social networks like LinkedIn - well, I make sure the work is done if I use some time to write up a post for the day :)
Thank you for the humbling words - even if one student or one person is inspired to move into tech because of what I've said or done, it's the most rewarding and satisfying feeling. I hope I can give back to the community in the same way that I've benefited from the community.
What one, or two key pieces of advice would you give to other software developers who are looking for their next opportunity? What should they look out for in job specs, what are your top red flags etc?
Key advice #1 would be network - this isn't specific to software development but the working world and life in general. Being connected to 1000 people who are well connected is extraordinary - you can get introduced to potentially anyone that in normal circumstances, you'd probably never be able to even be connected to. Network, network & network - it's not what you know. It's who you know.
Key advice #2 is to find where your strongest skills lie and go all-in on it. I hate frontend development because I've always hated art and design - some people love it. I'd rather leave that up to them and only pick it up when it needs to be rather than trying to force myself to like something I just never will like. You can't force-feed a baby! (I'm a bit older than a baby but you get the point) Go deep in a few skills that you love and you will be successful. Go wide on 500 different things at an early stage and you'll drown.
Top red flags for job specs - everyone says they have a "unique opportunity" or we're a "forward-looking company". Don't fall for fancy words at all. Look for tangible benefits. Look for the real core skills that they need. Avoid job specs that list technologies like there is no tomorrow. Avoid interview processes beyond 3 stages unless you are going for a FAANG company. Avoid job specs that mention "work hard, play hard" unless you're applying for EA Games to work on BF 2042 & hang on in there. It will take time before you find your perfect role - just get your foot in the door.
What is your experience with recruiters? How often are you contacted by them, and do they hit the mark?
I have a PSL - seriously!
I've worked very closely with a few recruiters over the years who have become my best mates - they might have not placed me but what makes them hit the mark is that they don't forget about the human aspect of recruitment. They're not trying to shove a job down my throat because they, unfortunately, need to hit an unrealistic KPI.
I've also met a few recruiters who are stuck in the 1940s - not a good experience.
Regarding how often I'm contacted by them, it's pretty much multiple times daily via InMail or email, especially during these times. I have made sure that they all know that multiple cold calls will get them blocked unless Andy Jassy from AWS is on the line or they've arranged it with me beforehand 😀
What do you see as the next hottest things in tech? Is there a new technology you’re interested in learning more about, advancements in AI?
Voice technology is huge in my opinion & is already here - any developer or marketer who can become familiar with voice technology and understand that branding is what underpins it all will win. Any company that is left behind on voice, will lose out a huge market share to competitors. Longer-term, I can see VR and AR changing humanity like never before. Allowing humans to craft, interact & live in a digital world, separate from or intertwined with this world is mind-blowing. Any company with VR and AR technology will be surpassing all of their competitors very soon. In terms of learning, I'm not too big on AI since I don't know enough science to become as deeply invested in it as I'd want to!
I'm quite into human augmentation, autonomous driving (the tech is incredible) & cloud computing.
What has your previous experience with interview processes been like? What do you think employers can do to streamline and make the experience the best it can be for prospective employees?
Good and bad - I have tons about interview processes and culture on my LinkedIn profile but I can mention a few pressing points.
- Be fast - you're not the only one looking, your competitors are also looking
- Keep interview processes as short as they need to be - people's time is valuable
- Be honest - people are not afraid of leaving after 2 weeks if you have lied to them
- Talk about your weaknesses and strengths - that's all wonderful but where do you think you need to improve? Do you have any plans for those improvements?
- Prepare to be grilled if you grill 🙂
- Make it enjoyable - regardless of if people get through or not, let them be a good voice regarding their first impression of your business; I have personally deterred many fantastic engineers from joining places which put me through hell
🗣️ Anything else you’d like to cover, mention or discuss with the tech community?
To senior software engineers: everyone has been a junior at some point including yourself, try to give back to the community & there's always more to learn
To junior software engineers: hang on in there and try to work on a wide variety of projects if you can, find the passion that you want to go "deep on"
To recruiters: you're in the world of connecting humans not connecting dots on a KPI graph, create long-lasting relationships
To managers: make sure you understand what makes your team tick, be understanding, shield your team members from any corporate politics that may be happening at your level or above
To HR: it's human resources, reduce jargon, make sure that employees believe that you support them at the same time you support the company and that it is a 2-way support system, gear up yesterday for new generations to change what they want & are looking for from your company
To Jeff Bezos: please don't eat the Mona LisaThanks for having me!