With us, in this small talk, is one of the faces of our current employer branding campaign, software developer Bogdan Golubović. Bogdan is one of our experienced developers, who alongside his interest in software is an avid hardware enthusiast. His expertise in hardware has brought him to his interest in robotics, which he does in his free time out of work.
As a socially responsible company who values and respects the free time of our employees, we give our employees an ample work life balance so that they can also work on their hobbies as much as possible. We have found that giving our employees more time for their hobbies increases our employees’ levels of creativity and encourages our employees to be more efficient during work. A quality work life balance has been shown to be an important aspect of our workplace and is one of the benefits that many of our employees highlight about working at Serengeti.
Because of this highlighted benefit, we wanted to talk to Bogdan about his career path in software development, talk to him about his love for robotics and what he would advise to all his young colleagues who would like to enter the world of software development.
Bogdan, to start, I would like for you to tell us briefly how you started on your career path, specifically what brought you to software development. When, and in what way, did you become excited about programing and coding?
My love towards computers started when I was 3 years old when my dad brought a commodore 64 computer from Germany back to Serbia. However, the commodore was not for me, but due to a series of events the computer was left at our house. Of course, when the computer was brought to us, I was not allowed to play games, however as the time passed, I got the chance to use the computer and I would play games on it. After a while the videogames were not as exciting and intriguing as before. So, I started to wonder how the videogames ran on the computer. On the Commodore 64 I learned some of the basics of programming. I learned enough to give the commodore a command to calculate something. Later when I received a computer from my school, of course I also played video games on the computer, but there was something that interested me even further. During my school days I knew that I wanted to be a programmer. During summer vacation of that year, I received a computer and I worked for a company that bought computers and my job was to install programs on them and restore them. At university I more intensely studied computers and programming, but because of my previous experience with computers I excelled in all my classes. I knew I was called to programming because I do not see programming as a job rather a way of life.
Through the conversations that we had before, I realized that you were also interested in robotics. How did you go from hardware to software?
One can say that I first started with hardware programming as I finished a technical high school specializing in numerical management of machines. However, I actually started software programing before I started anything in hardware. As a young kid, I was always interested in how different devices worked and I educated myself by disassembling them to see what was inside. From doing this, I started to fall in love with hardware. I started to become more interested in hardware during my undergraduate and masters’ studies. During my masters’ degree I was a competitor at the Eurobot competition. From my curiosity for learning I became better. I started to work with robotics by myself, and of course I can say that I am very experienced in robotics, while before I was just an enthusiast in that area of study.
What made you interested in robotics?
Robotics is a very vast area of study, and the area in which I would like to learn more about is humanoid robotics. Unfortunately, in Serbia you cannot find anybody to learn more about humanoid robotics with.
You mentioned that there are a couple of competitions in robotics. How did you find these competitions and how did your love for robotics made you able to successfully compete in the robotics sphere?
At the computing faculty while I was doing my masters’ studies, I was a member of the Eurobot team. Sadly, we did not have any successes, mostly due to financial problems and a part of the hardware to make our robot arrived too late. For that reason, I left competing in robotics. On the Eurobot team I was responsible for managing the robot build and designing the mechanical parts. Taking into account that I finished technical school and I was the only one with experience in building hardware, I took the whole team under my wing. I also was really good at drawing in AutoCAD. The only thing that I did not have any experience in was electronics. When I saw that robotics was a multidisciplinary field of study, which brings together hardware, software, electronics, machinery, that is what interested me the most and encouraged me to learn more.
Other than robotics, what other hobbies do you do in your free time?
In my free time I usually hang out with my friends and this usually includes swimming, bike riding, playing chess, and I occasionally play pool. In the future I would like to learn how to play Snooker. Snooker is a very interesting sport that I like to watch on Eurosport. The past two years I was not able to do many of these activities because of Corona and because my life got increasingly busy.
How does working in a serious software company such as Serengeti allow you to also have time for hobbies, and how much time do you put aside each day for your hobbies? Are you satisfied with the work life balance that Serengeti offers you?
Every day at work I always put aside some time for some hobbies, and this includes my increasing interest in Robotics which I work on every day. When I work, I do not really concentrate on the amount of time that I work but rather if I finish the task that we need to finish for the day. Some days I only work 5-6 hours but I am able to finish the task and work ahead on the project. As I said before, programming for me is a lifestyle not a job.
I assume that it is challenging to work in an industry such as IT which is rapidly changing and to be able to advance professionally you have to constantly be in a state of learning. In what way do you best organize your time, and what is your advice for young developers in organizing their time?
My advice for my younger colleagues would be that they need to know which part of IT they want to work in and that they do not see work for just its face value but rather they are challenged and enjoy the work that they do. Many people look at the highest paying jobs, but getting paid a lot of money doesn’t necessarily translate to job satisfaction. If they truly like what they are doing they will not complain about how much time they waste on it and they will continually learn something through being challenged. My advice would also be that they do not attach themselves only to one programming language, rather they look at the task at hand as a whole and divide the project into manageable pieces they can do step by step. The trend today is to solve software problems through many different frameworks, but I believe they need to learn how to solve software issues without the framework, because the framework can solve many of the standard issues a programmer faces, but there are many situations which are not standard and programmer have to think outside of the box i.e., outside of the framework. They need to discover how to solve something, and if they do not know they need to ask their older colleagues for help, because that is one of the ways they will learn. You need to actively learn and not just push the task onto an older colleague as it is better to teach a man to fish rather than giving it to him.
Programming software makes those programming always aware of what they do not know and what they know. I suggest that you constantly work on what you do not know and do not be discouraged by a lack of knowledge as even experienced programmers get stumped in their work. If you do this, you will not be a perfect programmer but you will for sure be on the journey to becoming a great one.
What message would you like to send to all of the readers of this blog, whether they are colleagues or not, to end this interview?
If you would like to be a software programmer you need to be aware how much time you invest in making yourself better and the sacrifices in your every day life to become a better program. Balance your work and personal life and whether you know what you are doing or you are still learning, always be ready to be a team player and work as a team.