Behind The Code: Jennice Colaco, Backend Developer

Photo by: Tyler Ball

Backend developer, Jennice Colaco, has been working at Shopify for 10 months now on the Marketing Technology team. 

What's your educational background?

Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto

What does your team do? 

We build tools that help our merchants market their products to their customers.

What’s your favorite programming language and why?

I currently don’t have one but I’m working on getting better at Ruby. I look at a language as a tool for solving a problem and the language that is best used changes with the problem. So, I’m trying to be more aware of what the pros and cons are of different languages and how we use them at Shopify right now.

What’s your favorite dev tool?

Any debugging tool! For ruby I use “byebug” and I find that stepping through the code is the best way to figure out what is going on. Sometimes you can get errors that seem quite random but when you step through, line by line, it's much easier to catch small mistakes.

Where do you get the most productive work done?

Once I have figured out how to solve the problem and just need to code away, I usually like to find a quiet space/room in the office. Most often, I go down to the office kitchen and just work from there.

Are you working on any side projects?

I’m currently taking a Ruby language course available at Shopify to sharpen my skills with the language. It’s a course that has been put together at Shopify which serves as a good supplement for me to dig deeper and further understand the concepts I encounter daily. Continuous learning is highly encouraged in the company, whether it involves using in-house resources or taking a course online.

What are some ways you think through challenging work?

I like to sit down and read through the problem first, and then start researching the problem once I’ve grasped it. But, I also think it’s important to believe there is a solution to the problem. Believing you can do it is half the battle. Fortunately, I work with an encouraging team who I can look to for support, whether it’s pairing with someone or talking through solutions when I’m stuck. I also have awesome peers who work on different teams that I pair with and whiteboard out problems. Going through the work with someone who has no context of the problem often brings up key and interesting questions. Working in an environment where asking questions is encouraged makes a big difference and that’s definitely the case at Shopify!

What’s your typical daily routine?

I like to get in early which gives me time to plan my tasks for the day and look at problems I’m thinking through with a fresh mind. Then, I grab some breakfast and catch up with my colleagues on how their week is going. After this, I’m back at my desk either coding away or replying to reviews on my pull requests. There’s usually a pairing session or two during the day where I can collaborate with other developers to talk through how I’m approaching certain tasks. Between all of that, I'm usually on Slack communicating with my team or talking to my peers to exchange what we’re working on and to bounce ideas off one another.

What’s your favorite city in the world and why?

Toronto. The people and the food. I just haven’t found another city I love as much.

What does culture mean to you and can you describe our culture in a few sentences?

For me, I think culture is being in an environment where I feel like I can grow and be supported in that growth. I appreciate that at Shopify there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. There's a lot of understanding that everyone works differently and people can have a variety of needs. We always have ongoing conversations on how we can do better so everyone can have a healthy work environment.

What advice would you give to a prospective developer?

Keep at it. There is space for you in this industry. Keep going out to different meetups and talks where you can meet other developers. The community is quite welcoming so leverage that and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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Interested in joining our team? Be sure to check out the careers page for available job postings.