“When I left university I was a reasonable pianist, an impatient piano teacher and an unoriginal composer with a head packed full of music history and analysis techniques. I took a year to consider my career direction,” says Dan, 38, who is now a Senior Software Developer at Starling.
We asked him about the connections between music and coding: “Analysing problems, solutions and existing programmes is very similar to analysing music. Composing programmes is very similar to composing music. Ultimately you’re coming up with an idea and figuring out how best to express it.”
For Dan, the creativity of coding is one of the best things about it. “You get to build whole new worlds from scratch, very quickly. Then throw them away and reinvent them if they don’t work,” he says.
He is totally absorbed by the detail of coding. “Sometimes you know the world you are building is definitely going to work how you want it to work because you test every bit of it every step of the way. You design a world at 10,000 feet waving your hands around and then get to implement it working right down at the coal face with a toothbrush or in the lab with a microscope,” he says.
He joined Starling in January 2016, when there were only 17 other people in the team. Since then, Dan has gone on to build software for onboarding of new customers, issuing debit cards, digital wallets such as Apple Pay, the Current Account Switching Service, Direct Debits, overdrafts, the Starling website and “many, many, many, many integrations.” His largest project was building the front end of our ‘Management Portal,’ which is the back office application that all our customer service and operations staff use day to day to run the bank.
Dan’s career advice is to:
- “Fail fast, fail often. It’s the best way to learn.”
- “Step outside your comfort zone. Often.”
- “Learn (substantially) different programming languages (e.g. one statically/strongly typed, compiled, class-based, ‘object-oriented’ and another dynamically-typed, interpreted and functional). You’ll see problems and appraise their solutions differently while wearing different hats.”