Spotlight On: Ben, Beem’s Resident Web Whiz

Interviewed & written by Seja Al Zaidi: our customer support guru and freelance writer.

Here at Beem, we wouldn’t know what we’d do without our wunderkind Senior Front-end developer, Ben Jelavic. We sat down with Ben to discover the ultimate career tips he’d give to aspiring developers at the start of their journey. Ben got his start all the way back in high school, creating video games and taking classes in coding before landing a cadetship with Westpac bank. Along the way, he’s gleaned a few nuggets of career wisdom that he was more than happy to impart for us.

Ben’s journey is inspirational not only because he got his start so young, but because he’s been able to engage in personal passion projects and make real, lasting friendships along the way. He's nailed the balance between professional networking and pursuing a career he loves.

After chatting with Ben, we learned that there’s an enormous emphasis to be placed on upskilling in this field - web is changing day by day, and Ben encourages budding web developers to invest in their skillset and to stay up to date or else risk “falling behind”. 

Read on to find out how budding developers can get a headstart into the industry just like Ben did. 

So, as a child, did you always have an interest in this field? Was it always what you wanted to do?

I always knew I wanted to do this. I wanted to do something around coding and programming. I found it easier to express my ideas in a web form - so building out web experiences was easier for me than building out a desktop application, which is more of a back-end experience. It was a natural progression, and eventually, a no-brainer. 

Was this interest encouraged by those around you when you were growing up?

It definitely was. I’d build something creative and show my friends and family. They’d give a lot of positive responses and constructive feedback, too.

How did you get your foot in the door at the very beginning?

When I was in Year 11 and 12, I applied to a lot of different programs. I managed to get into the Cadetship program at Westpac, which allowed me to rotate through roles in their group technology. That cadetship experience was hugely helpful because it allowed me to experience different IT from every angle, and to figure out what role was more suited to me. You needed to have a degree lined up to qualify, though - I was about to enter a degree in computer science. 

To what extent did this cadetship help you in learning the ropes of the IT industry?

It’s very helpful. They definitely don’t expect you to know everything - it’s entirely a learning experience for you. 

What advice would you give school leavers and uni students aspiring to get into this field of work - aspiring developers and coders? 

Always keep learning. Web keeps changing all the time. Stay on top of the blogs, stay on top of web courses - there are plenty of great web courses out there, so take advantage of them. They tend to teach you more than a lot of uni courses. Keep going to meetups. Keep building your network. Stay passionate and stay engaged, or else you’ll fall behind. 

Can you explain what you mean by ‘fall behind’?

Web is always rapidly changing. If you keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last year and don’t evolve, you’re gonna fall behind. Standards change, and you’ll find your technology becomes outdated really quickly. But if you’re staying on top of things, if you keep learning then you won’t have issues with outdated code.

What are some specific skills that budding developers should focus on developing?

Design skills are actually a great weapon to keep in your arsenal. If you have design skills, you can put designs in place and put yourself ahead of your competition.

It’s also useful because if you’re working with a design team that doesn’t have the capacity to build some things design-wise, you can go ahead and build a prototype yourself and bring it back to the team for review. It makes you more of an asset in the workplace. 

What are some passion projects you’re currently working on? There’s one I really love called Beembox. It uses the Spotify API and the Beem It payments API. It’s a DJ that allows you to request a song via the Beem It app by making a payment to the virtual DJ. It then queues up the music and plays it on Spotify!

What are you most proud of so far in your career? It has to be [Beem] Gift Cards. The unwrapping experience - being able to scratch your screen to unveil a gift card, I'm pretty proud of that.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? I hope to be managing a team of web developers. I’d like to see a lot more web experiences coming out of Beem. We currently have Beem It web where you can view and export your transactions, but it’d be so cool for users to be able to make payments on the Beem website too. 

What we learned…

While some of Ben’s advice is definitely dev-specific, I think we can all agree that plenty of his encouragements are valid across all career pursuits - stay “engaged and passionate”, keep on top of industry trends, take advantage of extracurricular courses and programs, add value across teams, and pursue opportunities like cadetships or internships that can immerse you in your desired work environment early on in your career, helping you garner real-world experience and transferable skills for the future.

No word yet on when Beembox will be blasting tunes across our shiny new digs in Sydney CBD, but we’re sure Ben’s passion project will be an office favourite once it does. 

Here at Beem, we’re always looking for feedback on how we can grow, evolve, and change to better support our Beemer community. The ‘Spotlight On’ series is designed to focus on the career trajectories, passions, philosophies, and journeys of the wonderfully diverse team here at Beem HQ. The series aims to inspire and educate members of our community who are chasing their own unique and individual career journeys. If there’s a Beemer you’d like to see us interrogate chat to next, let us know and we’d love to make it happen.

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