Justine Chiu

Front End Developer


I am a front-end developer based in Toronto, Canada. I write Javascript, HTML5, and CSS3. I am actively using React, Redux, Webpack, and VS Code Live Share to pair program.

Life long learning is mandatory as a web developer, so I'm always taking workshops, online courses, and poking around CodePen.

On my weekends I sit on my couch and do absolutely nothing.


I'm a full-time software developer at a financial institution where I work with React and Redux building beautiful, accessible onboarding applications.


I'd like to make a career shift to web development. How do I get started?

  1. Take a free course or tutorial. Some that offer these include Canada Learning Code, Codecademy, Udemy, Pluralsight, or Udacity. I did all of these before paying money for a coding bootcamp.
  2. Research every coding bootcamp near you. Ask about technology taught, employers that seek out graduates from that school, and earning potential. Match up the technology taught with recent job postings for web developers. Attend demo nights where students present their projects that came out of the bootcamp.
  3. Save up. It's a good idea to ensure you have 6 months of living expenses saved up, especially if you're going to quit your full-time job and do a full-time bootcamp program. You need 3 months for the duration of the bootcamp, and 3 months after the bootcamp when you're looking for a job. Save more if you think you will have a hard time looking for a job after graduation. Save less if you think you have a hustle motivation and connections to get you employed right after the bootcamp.
  4. Remind yourself that this is an investment. All investments require your time and effort to maintain, so it's up to you to keep your skills sharp and relevant after the bootcamp. The bootcamp is not a magical elixir that will solve your career woes once and for all. Keep learning, all the time, every day, on your own.

How do I grow as a developer?

  1. Inventory your skills. Identify the latest technologies. Do some tutorials on those technologies, and attend conferences with speakers that will go over them. Write a blog post that covers everything you've learned so far. Tweet at experts or ask questions on Stack Overflow if you don't understand something.
  2. Introduce new technology in your current team. Start out with a "Lunch N Learn" where you invite your team to have lunch in a meeting room while you walk through an overview of new technology or web trends. Move into more serious meetings on initiatives to adapting new technology (new designs, frameworks, etc.) to current projects. Eventually, get sign off from leadership or product owners to get going in a more actionable way.
  3. Work somewhere new. If your current place of employment is resistant to change, look for a new workplace. If you feel obligated to stay at your place of employment for whatever reason, make a super small side project working with that technology in one weekend. Make your own "Hackathon" weekend.
  4. Teach. Sometimes it's not about quantity, but quality of your knowledge. The best way, to strengthen what you know, is to teach it. Reach out to your alma mater or other bootcamps to get part-time work as a mentor or instructor. Teach a 1-2 hour workshop at work after hours.

How do I ask for more money or negotiate my salary?

  1. Document your contributions. Every time you made something in a codebase better, write it down: problem, solution, impact. Measure impact by time and/or money saved. Present this to your employer and put a price tag on it. That price tag is your raise.
  2. Find a new company to work for. Each company has their own budgets and some are willing to pay more for your skills. Research the companies you want to work for on Glassdoor and figure out how much they'd pay. Accept that base salary doesn't have to be the only thing a company should offer you. Ask about Registered Retirement Savings Plans, health benefits, performance bonuses, and paid time off (especially if you have eldercare or childcare responsibilities).
  3. Work more. If you like the job you're currently doing, ask for more responsibilities or work a part-time job as an instructor or tutor.

I hate open offices but that seems to be the workplace style at tech companies. How should I deal?

  1. Ask to be moved to a desk that faces a wall. Eliminating sound distraction is easy with headphones, but eliminating visual distraction is harder when open offices put your desks facing other colleagues like in elementary school. If that's not possible, build some 'blinders' with foam core around you.
  2. Find a remote job. Of course this has its own host of pros and cons, but taking control of your environment is the best way to deal with the feeling of your focus and attention being stolen from an open office.
  3. Work at a place that has cubicles. If it's that important to you to not join the open office 'revolution', deliberately choose a company that is pro-cubicle. Unless you're the magical influential type, you can't just ask a hip, collaborative, open-office-ping-pong-loving company to change for you.


Connect with me on LinkedIn, or get in touch via e-mail.