Speaker Spotlight: Everything I Wish I’d Learned About Being a Developer at University with Helen Scott

Welcome to our newest blog series where we shine a light on recent speakers from our variety of community-led events, learning a little more about them and what inspires them.

At Brighton JUG’s inaugural event, we got to hear from Helen Scott, Keynote Storyteller at application data platform MongoDB, who has worked at numerous software companies and has experienced the highs and lows of the software development cycle at all stages.

In her talk ‘Writing Code is Easy, Being a Great Developer is Hard’, Helen spoke about skills rarely taught through traditional educational routes which when combined with writing code, will help make you a great developer.

Image of Helen Scott

So Helen, tell us about a moment that helped define your career?

It’s too hard to pick one moment, so here are my top two…

The first one was realising that I loved communicating with people, and my C in English Language at GCSE was not an accurate indicator of what I could do when I applied myself. When I knew that and found out about a job called Technical Writing, that was a huge turning point in my early career.

The next defining moment was when I accepted a job at JetBrains as a Java Developer Advocate and finally faced my fears around Java. As it turns out, I can write Java, and I could put my initial negative experiences with the language to rest. Furthermore, I was able to advocate for users who were either new to Java or new to IntelliJ IDEA – that was a privilege and a turning point.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

The answer to this one is way more than I can write on this blog post! The overriding one would be to “be kind to yourself”. That includes forgiving yourself when you screw up – which you will, a lot. Treat yourself with the same kindness you would extend to your best friend; you deserve it.

What was the inspiration for your recent talk?

I took my inspiration for my talk from my journey as a Java Developer Advocate. I wondered why I was finding Java much easier the second time around, and thus my hypothesis that there were a vast number of other skills involved in that learning journey was born. Subsequently, I turned most of those skills into that talk after much research and soul-searching.

What’s your big tech prediction for 2022?

I think we’ll see people re-balancing their lives and interactions with technology. That might mean people are ditching smartphones, or at least detaching themselves from them. Of course the same goes for social networks as people unplug and return to face-to-face interactions. Perhaps this is what I hope happens in 2022!

And finally, Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community – so… what does the word community mean to you?

Everything. Communities are a place where you can learn from others, share your knowledge, help level others up, grow your network, and so much more. Support from Java communities in London, Manchester, and Brighton JUG, along with the Aspiring Women Speakers, has been central to my public speaking journey.

You can follow Helen on Twitter and LinkedIn, and catch her talk on our YouTube channel, in case you missed it or want to watch it again.

Working hand-in-hand with Brighton’s tech community, we run a range of free meetup groups that cover a broad spectrum of specialist areas; from marketing to programming, product design to data. Check out what’s coming up here and join our community of like-minded individuals in the local tech scene!