Shopnil Mahmud

Guest Shopnil Mahmud

I’m a Front-end Developer & UX & UI Designer. I dream of building a universe inspired by art, music, nature, shapes and patterns to solve daily design problems.

Season 05 Episode 13 – Jun 28, 2022  
34:01  Show Notes

Talking to a New Dev


We talk to new developer Shopnil Mahmud about learning web development at Seneca College and starting work in the field. Questions were submitted by current students at Seneca College.

Show Notes

  • Web technologies
  • Learning new frameworks
  • Is what is taught in a course enough to get a job?
  • Side projects
  • UX/UI Design vs Developer
  • Continuous learning
  • What was the most important thing you learned at school for your current job.
  • Dealing with stress
  • Job search & Interviews
  • Advice for new developers

Accuracy of transcript is dependant on AI technology.

Welcome to another episode of the website 101 podcast. This podcast is for novice web developers and small business owners who want to learn more about running and optimizing their websites. Hello everyone, I am Amanda Lutz.

Welcome. I'm Mike Mele, welcome to the show. Everybody good to be back. And I'm Sean Smith. And Amanda, who do we have on the show today? Today we have a guest who is a former Seneca student who is now working in web development

at the Bank of Montreal. She's also interested in in UIUX design and he has many other interests. I'm just gonna let him explain it all. Shop know, hello, how are you? I'm good, great to be here, how are you?

I'm good, thank you. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much. Before we start getting angry emails about Amanda and her favoritism, Shop know was never one of my students, but he was one of my TAs.

Yeah, I see. I didn't even know that until this moment. Okay, cool. Yes, so... It's not like Manda's pulling favorites or anything like that. It's not like I picked somebody who got really crappy grades,

but it was always a big suck up or anything. So no, Shop Mill is very clever, very smart, helped me out a lot when he was my TA. Thank you so much. So Shop Mill, where are you located? Are you here in Ontario?

Yes, currently I'm living in downtown Toronto. Yeah, and working from home until now. Yeah, like all of us right now, I think. You like all of us. So Shop Mill, you're working at BMO for our non-Canadian listeners.

That's the Bank of Mon- trail of one of our national banks. How long have you been working there and what exactly is your role? I'm working here as a full stack developer with an emphasis on front-end development.

I joined this company back in November 2021. So it's been like around five months now. Before that I was working for another company called Sage Renegade. That was something that I landed on right after my Seneca

diploma and so that turned into a job right after my internship. So I was lucky to get that. That gave me a platform and based on that I could join another somewhat better company for me. Yeah. So are you part of a team over there or I assume there's several other at a place like

a bank like that? There's probably a whole bunch of developers. Is that right? That's right. I'm working for a small. team here, which is mainly a part of capital market, not the consumer banking side.

And our main focus is on analytics and working with data and other things to help the investors make informed decisions. Cool. So overall, what are the high level, what are the technologies that you specifically

are working with? Currently, we are using React. And. So, And apart from that node.js is also something which is being used by the backend developers. And I'm also working on SQL and other databases, which are not my strongest suit as a front-end developer.

But once you sign up for something, you have to learn and deliver things, even if it's not in your interest. A little baptism by fire as it is. That's right. So let's talk a little bit. You mentioned there about what's not your strong suit and that.

What is your favorite part of web development? Like what kind of technologies do you like working with the best? I think I have been working with this web technologies for almost 10 years now. And still I think I'm not an expert in CSS or even HTML.

in some cases. From my understanding it's easy to go from 0 to 80% and that 20% takes years to master. So I think I still have a lot to learn when it comes to CSS animation and other advanced level CSS or JavaScript but I enjoy all of

them. I also like to learn new frameworks and so there are like tons of JavaScript frameworks that I try to learn at my free time. But the learning curve for all of them is different. For example, if we talk about React,

you know, it's not how normal web development works. Like we put HTML files, whereas in React, we have to go with JSX. So we are writing HTML into into a JavaScript file. So those are the learning curve that's supposed to be what makes a react so awesome.

Yeah, you just combine them together. Yeah, that's the idea, but you know you have to unlearn a lot of things when you learn a new framework. So that's the challenge I'm talking about basically. Right. I would think though starting with react though, you're probably in a pretty good position.

That's like the big heavyweight thing that everyone talks about these days. So if you know that fairly well, you're I'm not that I know what I'm talking about. don't know react. It's a good place to start. You know what I mean? True.

So the majority of the questions today are gonna come from current Seneca students. I forced all of the 420 students, all of the last semester students, to let me know what questions they wanted me to pass on because of

course they're all about to graduate and go into the job world and so yeah that's you know that's the that's the pool of where all of these have come barum. I think that probably one of the biggest questions, one of like the biggest anxieties that I'm hearing from students who are about to graduate is

Is the stuff that we've learned? Is that gonna be enough to get me a job? If you if I give a simple one-word answer then probably no but if I explain that in in that case I would say that just some college projects probably won't be enough so we have to run that ex

a mile in order to secure something, secure a job. Because you see what Seneca is teaching, all the other students are working on that. So that's an expected level of learning that is required. But in order to get a good job, I think all the students need to focus on

having some more projects under their belts and So some pet projects or something that they are interested in, things like that. So that helps a lot because I'm saying that I may sound like a pessimist person but I'm

saying that because many of my fellow students, they still don't have a job because they didn't do that extra work or didn't care enough to have more projects. apart from the Seneca ones on their profile.

So I think that's very important for the students to learn from this program, but at the same time take this as a beginner step and build upon that. So that would be my advice to the students. I can see that.

If you've got a hundred students that are graduating from the same program at the same time, yeah, they've all got the same skill set. So use that knowledge that you've learned too. And I'm constantly.

telling them, get in, play with it, see what it does, see how you can expand it, see what else you can do with it. And that would be, I'm sure, this types of projects that Chopinil is talking about with the pet projects and the side projects. And I was interested in

this, so I took it a bit farther to see what I could do, like anything that's going to make you stand out a bit from everyone else who graduated in your class and then all of the other colleges at the same time.

I was just going to say the TLDR on that is, don't do just the minimum, you have to do a little bit more to get noticed and stand out from the crowd. Exactly. Well, I noticed in your, I'm looking at your portfolio site here and I don't know when

some of these projects were done, but I noticed you have, you did a site for the band Kio, I don't know if that's a band or just the lady's name, but something that thing is really awesome that I would love to do myself.

I don't know if I can make this happen, but you've got a play button and when you hit play, you see a video testimonial of that client, you know, singing your praises for a couple of minutes, he's sitting there talking about you in a video in it.

It's like, wow, that is really great. What a great way to showcase how your clients feel about you. So that kind of thing would be a project. An example of a project you should do in addition to your actual schooling education, right?

Side projects like that. Absolutely. So WebTec was something that caught my interest. I was barely passing through the other subjects, like physics or calculus. But all of a sudden I discovered.

that WebTech was something in which I received like a 95% marks or something. So that's the moment I thought that this is something I would like to do for the rest of my life. And also I noticed that when I was working on Web Technologies,

I didn't feel tired about it. I could go on for like whole night without feeling tired. So that's the time you know where your destiny is. So just to give you an idea that like what we are talking

about. now that you have to go that extra mile out of your own passion, you have to find it. So yeah. Well, that's really awesome that you found something you're passionate about so early in life.

Yeah. So you mentioned a little bit about the technology there and all that and how you did well on that side of it. But you also consider yourself a UX UI designer, which is more of the aesthetic side, not

so code relevant. So how do those two. fields work for you like designer versus developers or one you prefer, how did that come about? So in that case, once you do like some freelancing projects, you

have to wear like different hats at the same time. It's not just front-end, it's not just back-end or you know they want a person to develop a website from A to Z or an app for you know in that case. So you have to know the design aspects as

well. So when I was working on both design and development at the same time, I figured that that's web design back in those days were just web design. These terms are quite modern like UI, UX and other stuff, UI engineers.

That's something I always wanted to learn more about previously, probably I was using a font but I didn't know when to use sense or you know sensory font or things like that. So that's the moment I decided

to come to Seneca and learn more about designs and so we had UIUX courses as well. So that's the time I started learning UIUX and then I went on to take some other certifications from Google and Coursera. And it was very

interesting to learn like like what a Google designer is thinking and how their thought processes are, how they take about their projects. So I always went online to see what are the other learning options there.

I keep like an hour every day to explore what are the new technologies coming in or just to read about some blog posts or some probably CSS design or our words. That was actually gutted to shoulder Edge phosphates from theirconsight through the

Butler that kind of websites to see what people are doing these days. So things like that. So yeah, that's how I think my design or like UI UX design journey started. And so far I'm enjoying it a lot because just focusing on coding sometimes may get a little boring.

So it adds like extra spices on your life when you work on or you know. do some research and explore how these design decisions would come about things like that. Yeah, it can be a benefit and also like a plus and a minus

because you have to deal with all those different aspects. But also, you can consider them as sort of like a relief from each other. If you're doing a lot of coding, I'll take a break and I'll do some of this other stuff for a while, whatever.

Exactly. So, Shop, one of the things you just talked about is you You set aside like an hour or so each day to learn new technology, keep up with design trends and things like that. That's really so important and we had

we had Wes Boss in and he said that that's also very important, putting in the time to keep abreast and that's how he continues to learn. So yeah, I mean, this is part of why you are into a successful job right now. Awesome. Well done.

Hey, Amanda here. If you're enjoying the website 101 podcast, we'd love it if you could give us a positive review. You can go do that on app. podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reviews help new listeners find out about us

and also allow us to keep doing the show. Thanks. Your time at Seneca, what was the most useful or important thing that you learned there that you can apply to your current job? When I came here, I had eight years of experience, but I kept pushing for things such as networking. Our

program co-coordinator, Kidman Smith, was probably probably sick and tired of me because I was the one who was always just going there to say hello or just shooting him some emails things like that with my

teachers I'm still in touch with Amanda until these days so when I'm in their mind all the time that's the time when they are also thinking about me so my first internship the way I landed on it was a friend of Kimma

asked him about some web development related work. So then Kinmon could instantly recall my name because I was constantly in touch with him all the time. So he was probably relieved when he could source me into someone that at

least now this guy will not bother me anymore. Things like that. I'm like that's not my nature but... The squeaky wheel guts the grease. Yeah, nobody listening can see this, but I'm now shaking my fist at Shop Mill

because I'm gonna have all of the students contacting me all of the time. Hey Amanda, hook me up. And do like, if I get any projects, I'm taking them myself. I find it really interesting that the best thing

that came out of his time at Seneca was not coursework, but networking. Yeah, to me it was. And that's how I became Amanda's. TA because he also wanted me to work on something instead of just bothering him all the time.

So I'm redirecting the traffic into Kinmond instead of Amanda here. Yes. Kinmond wants to hear from everybody. He loves talking to students. Sounds like quite an experience over there at the Seneca.

Sounds like a... Sounds like a great place to go. So, Shoppnal, speaking of during Seneca... This is a question from one of the Amanda students, I think, really resonated with me. When you were studying, and I suppose we can apply this to now as well, how do you deal

with stress? Any kind of, at the time, academic stress that you were going through while you were studying, because it can be very stressful learning all this stuff in a concentrated program, or stress at the job right now.

Mental health is a big thing for people in our industry. So how do you deal with that? It's very hard initially to go through all these, especially as an international student when you are not settled in Canada yet

and you have to go through several different kinds of other challenges in your life. What I personally did was I took music as a therapy for myself so that helped me relieve some of my stress and then I was also...

doing some meditation, like even if it's just 10 minutes a day, but still that helps a lot. Your spiritual and mental health is really important. Sometimes even just a little bit of prayer, you know, gives you some strength to go on when things are hard and you know in adverse situations.

So those were the things that helped me a lot. I was also like during my weekend, I didn't work too much on the assignments. I just took, I just went somewhere like I love traveling. So I went for a photo walk or something

just to observe people in downtown or in some other areas and what they're doing and try to capture those moments into my camera. So those were the things that helped me get out of that stressful condition.

I think what probably a lot of the soon-to-be graduating students that I'm gonna force to listen to this would be interested. is give us like a brief overall summary of how the job search worked. Like did you have, I mean we've already talked about some references through

Kinman but were you active on LinkedIn? How often were you checking out Indeed or other job posting sites? Like did you have to write cover letters? Did you have to customize resumes for each job posting?

Like we've only heard rumors of how awful the job interviews are. aveningWheels? Tell us a bit about what you went through. Also, how many jobs did you apply for? How many interviews did you get? I've heard that it's insane.

I was lucky to get my first job through internship, as I mentioned. But at one point, I lost that job. That's because that company was struggling. I was in a very stressful situation at that moment because during those days, I just lost

my father in my... home country. So I was not in that mental state to look for like other opportunities and jobs. But I started working on my case studies instead of just some showcases of the projects.

And I landed on, so on LinkedIn there's a very interesting functionality you have, which is like open for work that badge you can show on your profile. So yeah, I saw that. Once I turned that on, I started getting messages from the recruit.

and they started reaching out to me. So for the next couple of weeks, I gave 25 plus interviews and I applied to probably over hundreds of jobs, like wherever I could get. And those were really stressful, like 25 plus job interviews

within two weeks. But guess what? Like I received job offers from three companies. Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on, before you go on. So just talking about the job interviews themselves and you went through so many of them in such a short period.

of time, but I've got to ask the first interview that you had with the company versus the 25th one that you had with the company, I would assume that by that point your stories are more flowing, they're more comfortable. You know the key

topic points that you want to talk about. So while it is like a huge stressful hassle going through all of these interviews that may or may not result to anything, I always like to think that there's so long as you can

takes a positive a positive point from any experience, then it's worthwhile going through. Absolutely. I would think so too. And I have a question about the interviews. When you did those interviews,

did they have any sort of code testing, like a take home test or something that you did in front of them, whether it's like on screen or actually physically in person? Although I'm not sure if that happened during COVID,

but yeah, you know, the basic idea, we hear all of these stories about crazy, crazy. skill tests. Did you have that experience at all? So one of my experience was like a guy just showed up to take my interview. He asked me to share my screen

go to certain websites like CodePen and then he started explaining about those questions and I say that well in order to resolve that problem I have to understand the question first. Then he started repeating the same question.

and I couldn't really understand the ask there. And then we went on for like half an hour and then I told him that, well, I think, I think this is embarrassing for both of us because this is not the way a developer works.

Good for you. Good call, yeah, well done. It's never like, it's never like what you have memorized. You can always take help from different websites and work on some coding. and that was more like a programming competition like ECM or things like that.

So those were some disastrous experience that I had and so when I received this offer from BMO and they asked me to come for a coding test and I was pretty sure that I'm not going to get this job because not everyone is a good test taker.

So I was like, I have failed enough already, so what does it matter if I fail again? So I just appeared for it and I was just confident. I had nothing to lose. So that's the way I, you know, like,

that's how you pass through the later interviews when you go through that difficult phase initially. And at one point, those questions starts repeating. So, you know, you're already fluent in that phase.

Yeah. I got a question about back at this. Seneca thing again, is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew back when you were at Seneca, like anything you learned about the way, maybe about the way the job

market works, things like that, and you wish you had known it back then, or certain technology that is really popular and you wish you focused on it more back then, anything like that? Yeah, I think our, the diploma that we did, interactive media design is like a buffet

of various different kinds of programs. So we have like 3D design which I personally hated because 3D was very difficult for me and it takes like three days to render My computer was not Able to handle all those pressure

so So what I learned is that what is the 3D design like? Is that for like what for movies or something like what does that mean 3D design? Or is it like designing furniture and stuff. Either Amanda or Shopnal, I guess you could clarify that.

Yeah, from designing a breakfast table and all the props into making an animation or animated logo video or something like that. So it started from there. So after like all these learning, Kinmond mentioned that he doesn't know anyone in the industry who can

help us get a 3D related internship or a job. So that's something I thought that I put a lot of effort in. But in the end. it didn't help at all. So my learning from that program would be to focus on

certain skills. Like it gives you a taste of different types of programs. It gives you a foundation, but in order to be successful in the future carrier you have to pick which subject you are enjoying the most and then build your profile on

top of that. Because nobody wants to see like 10 different kinds of profession into your portfolio. So everybody wants to see, probably they're just looking for a web developer or they're looking for a graphic designer or they're looking for a UI UX designer.

So a student needs to fix their focus on one thing, one particular profession and then build their profile based on that instead of like showing all the projects they have worked on during the college days.

That is excellent advice and businesses also do the same thing. Just leashing down to what your specialization is. Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. We're coming into the end of this interview. This has been really insightful.

I have a question I'd like to ask you about Seneca versus moving from Seneca or any kind of education in this field into the job market. What is your main piece of advice that you have for people coming from an education in

this field and getting into the workforce, whether it be something related to the job interview process or the job search, what's your big tip that you have for people? now that you've gone through that? I cannot focus enough on networking. They can simply reach out

to different mentors, alumni who worked on these, who studied the same program, reach out to them, speak to them, just say hi. You can learn a lot from the people who already went through all these.

And then when it comes to interview, I think all the interviewers, they look for the person not the skill itself because many other people may have the same skill. They look for that personality. Show your personality, be there and just have fun.

That's something that really helps in order to stand out from the crowd. Because most of the people are really nervous, they're confused even though they're all skilled. So being able to handle that stressful situation is what makes one person different from the

others because in real life work it's stressful. So they want to see how you react to different kinds of stressful situations. That's great advice. So the last question for this episode is all about working with Amanda.

So you said that you're Amanda's TA or you were... And how, what was your experience working with her as a TA? Her students are going to listen. What do you think about her? We only want dirt. I'm leaving.

Feel free to talk openly. No. It was a lot of fun. I heard from many of my fellow students that this course is really hard. Amanda is unforgiving. And she is very strict. Things like that. And she cuts my mark.

Even when I... She does that to us too. So they were complaining, like, even if I miss a semicolon, she would cut my mark. But I knew the importance of a semicolon into a programming language. So I was just sitting there and listening to the...

and then when I had this experience of actually taking Amanda's class as a TA, then I came to see the whole curriculum from a different perspective. Nice. From a teacher's perspective, and she has all the logical reasons

to be strict because otherwise, you know, people will not learn from this course, not learn anything from it. Shopno, that is awesome. Amanda? I feel validated. You should cut this clip out and play it at the

beginning of each episode. or a semester. Thank you so much. And Sean, you're right. I am gonna, I'm just gonna play that clip at the beginning of every semester. I'm the middle and the end. And just be like, suck it up. Do the work.

Listen when I'm talking. We should just play that clip at the beginning of every episode of this podcast. And that is the boss. Awesome. Shop, you know, thank you so much for coming and talking with us today.

You have had a lot of really great experience. That's some good insight for new developers or considering joining our industry. Yeah, thank you very much. Is there anywhere you'd like to send people to learn more about you?

They can visit my LinkedIn profile or just simply, you know, since there's an option to reach out to me and send me a message if they have any question. Excellent, excellent. Thank you very much for being on the show.

Thank you so much, Chop, now. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. The website 101 podcast is hosted by me, Amanda Lutz. You can also find me online at And by me, Mike Mela, find me online at or on socials at Mike Mela.

I'm Sean Smith, your co-host. You can also find me online at my website, and LinkedIn. out. Final sound checks. Pepper pots prefers pepperoni pizza. Oh, you got to add to it every time.

Last time you said pineapple. Pineapple and pepperoni? I don't know. I am not really super creative today. Pickles pizza. Pickles pizza.

Have a question for Sean, Mike, and Amanda? Send us an email.