How I became a Shopify Developer: Kenneth Au
Hey Kenneth! So what first got you into the world of programming?
Before programming, I was an analyst at an investment bank in Brisbane, Australia. And one day my friend asked me to join a hackathon. Back then, around 2015, I had no idea what that was… But I went there to meet people and have fun. I teamed up with 3 people and one guy just smashed out a website in a few hours. I was absolutely amazed by that.
Soon after, I had to make a choice between a mega career change from finance into web development or staying in my current position. I gave myself a year to find a junior programmer position, and if that didn’t work out, I’d go back to finance.
And how did it go? Were you able to find the entry role you seeked out?
It was hard. Especially because when you apply for junior roles, they often require real experience, it’s a catch-22. You need the job to build the skills, but you need the skills to get the job. So I tried differentiating myself from other candidates by building out a small portfolio of work. And eventually, it worked! I got a job at a news media company. That was great, and the senior hire there taught me a lot of stuff.
So at this point, you're well on your way to becoming an experienced dev. When did you decide to venture into Shopify?
That actually came a little bit later. After the news media company, I worked in mobile app & fintech jobs because my background was a good match for that. But one day, I got a call from an agency saying they had an opening at Culture Kings in eCommerce: One of the top 5 biggest ecommerce players in Australia, mostly selling apparel.
I was a little bored at the mobile app business - it was slow and every day was the same. But eCommerce sounded fun. So I applied, got the job and spent the next 2 years there.
Was it difficult to learn the new Liquid skillset?
When did you go freelance? And when did you start Storetasker?
Since I started programming, I always did a little freelancing on the side, on the weekends. And because Brisbane is small, once you get into the right networks, people start seeking you out and steady work comes in. But I joined Storetasker just 2 months ago, in October 2021. One of my friends told me about it, and it’s been great.
With freelancing, you often have to spend lots of time educating clients and pitching to win business, but on Storetasker the leads know which problem they want to solve so you cut a lot of wasted time and can get started super quickly which is a game changer.
One last question for you: What advice would you give to young people, earlier in their careers of web development? Any good resources to share and advice?
There's a podcast I always listen to called Syntax. It’s not just focused on Shopify, but it’s excellent.
And then my advice is simple: Just do it! It’s so fun and every day is different. There are so many opportunities in this world. The other piece of advice is that you should pick one framework and stick to it. Especially Shopify, the opportunities are endless and the platform is still evolving so much.
Thanks Kenneth! Great meeting you and thank you for your insights!