Mike Trpcic enjoys the perks many only daydream of while staring at their cubicle walls. He shows up to work when he wants and wears jeans and T-shirts while focusing on his code.
A relaxed dress code and schedule aren’t all. He gets unlimited vacation, catered lunches every day, a company credit card, bi-weekly massages, weekly yoga classes, a subsidized gym membership, free weekly happy hours, and unlimited drinks and snacks.
Sounds like heaven, but that is Trpcic’s life at Weebly.com, a do-it-yourself website company.
Trpcic, 25, of San Francisco, is a front-end software engineer and coding is a lifelong passion, as well as his career.
He wasn’t born a programmer though — close, but, no, he had to start somewhere. Trpcic started delving into programming when he was 12.
“Most of my knowledge I’ve learned on my own through personal projects or work experience,” Trpcic says.
A Career Started in a Dungeon
He also learned through play and discovered his love for coding by playing a MUD, known as a multiuser dungeon game.
MUDs are the text-based precursors to current massive multiplayer online games, or MMOs, like World of Warcraft. In a MUD, players connect and type commands to move around, collect items, and fight each other.
“The MUD I had been playing was looking for volunteer coders to add new features to the game, and I had the overwhelming desire to be able to contribute,” Trpcic says. “I’ve always been an intellectual creative, able to think of good ideas, but with little artistic skill to bring them to life. Programming let me do that with math, science, and problem-solving.”
Trpcic says those were the early days of online gaming, and MUDs weren’t widely popular. He only discovered it through a friend. Online, he made more friends in a tight-knit community of gamers. When they asked for volunteers to design features for the game, Trpcic signed up but didn’t know much about coding. So he asked around.
“I heard back from a user who had already learned to program, and was willing to help,” Trpcic says. “He spent hours answering my early questions, guiding me to the right resources, and taking a look at the code I wrote to give me pointers. He was a huge help in my early days of programming, and I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
‘Amazing Opportunity’ Wins Out Over College Degree
He started to build his skill set by taking every programming course offered at his high school and a few computer hardware courses, and eventually going to college. He never graduated, though, and instead started coding full-time. Eventually, Weebly.com recruited him for an “amazing opportunity” and he hasn’t looked back. He’s been there 10 months.
“When I said I was recruited for an amazing opportunity, I wasn’t kidding,” Trpcic says. “We work very autonomously, having our work planned at the beginning of a two-week sprint. We’ll work for two weeks, then review the feature and make changes from there.”
He says that overall the job environment is relaxed, and as long as he gets his work done in a timely manner, it stays that way.
There are quite a few people frantically searching for the freedom Trpcic enjoys. He says anyone can learn coding, and he says it’s a rewarding career.
For those just beginning, Trpcic points them to the almost unlimited online resources. But he says the hardest part is figuring out what to do with coding skills.
“A lot of people come to the table asking, ‘Which language do I choose?’ or ‘What projects should a newcomer start?’” Trpcic says. “Focus on what you want to build. Reach for the stars. This is your end goal, so it can be as wild as you want. Maybe it’s the next Facebook, maybe it’s a video game, or maybe it’s a new desktop program to revolutionize accounts management for hotels. Whatever it is, once you know what you want to do, the range of tools you can use is limited so you’re not paralyzed by choice anymore.”
Online Resources for Beginners
That’s when new programmers should start planning the steps to accomplish their end goal. He recommends also cultivating relationships with experts, who, like him, were once in beginner’s shoes.
For newcomers searching for inspiration on which way to lean, Trpcic says mobile and web development have been steadily growing the past several years.
“I expect that trend to continue. In particular, there’s a new trend of using web technologies to build desktop applications,” Trpcic says. “I think in five years, this will be more common, as it’s a good way to get a quick version of your idea out onto the market. The industry is going to continue growing no matter what, barring some sort of cataclysm that destroys all our computers.”
He did say that, more so than other industries, programming requires constant education. Trpcic stresses that developers must constantly keep tabs on trends, new ideas, changes to existing platforms, updated versions, and changes in the way users behave. Given all that, he’s fortunate coding is also his hobby.
“A lot of times this just becomes second nature,” Trpcic says. “I love programming.”