Chances are you already heard the news: I'm now joining DigitalOcean as a Developer Evangelist, working close to the PHP community to help creating amazing things! I'm really excited about this, specially because I never thought I would have such an amazing opportunity one day in my life. This post tells a brief story about how I got where I am right now, just to put things in perspective.
I come from a small city in the northeast of Brazil, where is very, very hard to find a reasonable professional opportunity in IT. The IT industry there is full of "nephews", as we call this phenomenon where they always have a nephew who could supposedly do the same job for half the price, and the web development area is dominated by advertising agencies using Wordpress for pretty much everything. Nothing against Wordpress, but it is frustrating to a developer not being able to work on nice and different projects. Nowadays, things are a bit different with the hard work of my friend Abdala coordinating the local usergroup, but by that time there was no sign of any PHP community there.
The lack of nice jobs was the main reason why I focused on independent work. I started with side projects using Google Adsense, and at some point those projects became more profitable than what I was making in my job. As a natural result, I left the job to work with independent projects. This was back in 2008.
The opportunity to work from home doing my own projects was amazing, and it enabled me to try many different tools and many different approaches for web projects. Money-wise speaking, it was quite ok (considering the low cost of life there) and I can say that Google paid for my graduation, amongst many other great things!
But there was something very harmful in that environment, something I couldn't notice by that time: isolation. I'm not talking about working alone at home, cause that is not really a problem for me. I'm used to be very independent since I was a little kid, so playing alone and working alone are not a big deal. The isolation I'm referring to is about staying too much inside a comfort zone, satisfied with the knowledge you already have. And this can happen whether you are working from home or in an office full of people!
I didn't have enough self-confidence. I was afraid of open-sourcing my code. At some point, I deviated from my initial purpose of developing cool apps, and found myself engaged into the "blog business". Mainly because I didn't have confidence in my programming skills - how could I, isolated in a little world where I didn't see other people's code, and nobody would see mine?
Then, Amsterdam happens; all due to my husband, who's a really amazing and talented guy. We were planning to move to Europe, but I was skeptical by my side: I didn't believe I could get a good job. Then he got a job in Amsterdam that enabled us to move without the immediate need for me to get a job too. We probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him.
And what changed since I moved?
The PHP community here is really strong, and we have to give a big thanks to Rafael Dohms for that. Getting in contact with those amazing folks inspired me to leave my comfort zone, and that little world where I used to live before started to look too small for me. I didn't want to be isolated anymore. I wanted to play with the big kids. That was when I went to my first PHP conference ever, the Dutch PHP Conference (2013). All of a sudden, I was meeting people that I never thought I would see face by face in my life. People like Matthew O'Phinney, Igor Wiedler, Anthony Ferrara, Matthias Noback. I won my first elephpant there!
Everything escalated very quickly from that point. My first talk in English was in the unconference track of PfCongress, few months after DPC. Very, very nervous, but I did it. I kept trying and practicing. My first official participation as a speaker was at CodeConnexx, in November. Then, 2014 came with PHPBenelux, PHPUK, phpDay... where I met Rasmus Lerdof himself. Again, something that I never thought it would happen in my life.
Now I'm being presented with a new challenge, and this really means a LOT to me. But I'll never forget from where I came and the long path I walked, with the help of my husband Hugo, in order to be here today. I just wanted to say this: great things happen to those who persevere and work hard. Keep walking.