From a non-tech background, Telmo used to be a grape picker , a bartender and used to work in a warehouse. Learning to code changed his life in many ways and now he’s a team lead in Marley Spoon. Read on to know how he did it.

Please introduce yourself

Hey, I’m Telmo and I’ve been coding since 2007. I’m currently a Team Lead at Marley Spoon.

What was your background before learning to code?

Right before starting to learn how to code I was working in a warehouse, my main task was to assemble a wooden palette with products to be shipped to the main supermarkets in Portugal. Before that I’ve also worked as a grape picker and a bartender when I was younger.

What got you interested in coding and how did you learn to code?

I’ve always loved everything related to computers. A friend of mine showed me the basics of HTML and CSS, I was hooked. Another thing that I believe it also helped is the fact that I always loved design and arts, that’s something I care about while building a project, it’s the little details.

How did you get your first job in tech?

My first job was actually a freelance gig, to build a website for one of the major beauty brands in Portugal. After that I went ahead and actually created my own startup, it lasted for 4 years only, but it brought me to where I am today.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your startup?

Sure. I created my startup back in 2008 with a friend of mine. We were mostly focusing on building websites, I was focusing more on design by that time. We quickly figured I had to move to coding if we wanted it to succeed, and that’s what I did. We struggled a lot for a few months and then things kind of worked out. We closed it back in 2012, but like I mentioned, it brought me here and I’m glad it did.

What did you learn from it?

I got this question a lot. I learned so much from it, but what I value the most was handling finances (I was the one also in charge of the financial department) and dealing with clients. While dealing with clients sometimes people forget that they’re also human beings, it’s OK to say “no” to something you don’t agree with, within reason of course.

I remember a client that we charged $8k for a project that at the end would’ve been at least $20k, in these cases you need to put your foot down and make sure people are not taking advantage of you. But hey, we were young and you learn from your mistakes.

How did you prepare for an interview?

It really depends on the interview, but usually I don’t do anything, I just go with the flow, I find it easier to face it as a few strangers talking about code, it keeps me more relaxed.

How coding changes your life?

Aside from the fact that I love what I do, it gives me the chance to give my son a better life, especially if I’m able to work remotely, that means more time with him.

Any obstacles that you have to overcome in learning coding?

From the top of my head it was in a previous job, I barely knew Ruby on Rails and their codebase had too much custom code that everytime I faced an issue I couldn’t find anything online. I was the only FE developer, I had to learn a LOT on my own since both Stack Overflow and Google weren’t much help.

Tips for newbies?

Something that I wish I had learned earlier is to not be afraid to ask questions, nor be afraid to launch projects, it took me years until realizing this.

What are your plans for the future?

My main focus at this moment is my son, spending quality time with him, professionally I want to reach a good work / life balance.

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