Introducing Rubén: The most hyperactive back-end engineer
Today we get to meet Rubén Vallejo, a Back-end Engineer coming from a quite surprising background. With a focused and meticulous way of working, Rubén always tries to give all the energy he has into production, trying to spread it to the rest of the team. Rubén is one of the engines of Soamee, and will always try to push the team to new limits and challenges.
How would you describe yourself, in a nutshell?
My name is Rubén Vallejo, and I’m an English Literature and Culture major turned developer. I’ve been part of Soamee since the end of 2019 and always try to show up with a smile and a willingness to help everyone. From literature to software, I’m always thrilled to know and learn more about the world, and try to do so while maintaining a high level of energy and enthusiasm.
I love good stories and am always looking for new movies, shows, books, or video games to discuss and dissect with my peers. I must say, this eagerness for knowledge makes me a tough rival to beat playing trivia games, as I like to accumulate specific knowledge about the most random things.
How has Soamee helped you in your career development?
One of the main things Soamee has helped me with is finding my place in web development. I come from an unusual background for a developer: English Literature and Culture. I studied that at university and later specialized in translation, so for me development was really not on my radar.
However, through translation I ended up working on topics such as business software and web development. I translated intricate descriptions of software and had to test them myself. This was the spark of a continuous interest for software development in general.
Rubén concentrating on his day to day tasks
After an intense development bootcamp, I went out in the world, eager to face new challenges and keep improving my knowledge of web development. In Soamee, I’ve been able to grow and discover that I am more inclined to work with back-end programming that I would have thought.
Because Soamee will try to help you try new things and challenge you to reach new heights, I discovered that, despite my non-technical background, I had nothing to fear and I was able to push myself to overcome my self-doubts and feel very comfortable with complexity.
Soamee makes it really easy to grow because of the many varied projects to work on. Every member of the team has something to offer, so it is very fruitful to learn and thrive as a professional web developer. I feel like nowadays my knowledge in the field is miles ahead of where I was when I started working here.
What do you like most about Soamee?
The effort made by the team to continually improve the work environment is something worth mentioning. From my first day here, I have experienced continuous enhancements to how we work and how changes are brought into the company.
Soamee has been aiming to improve our day-to-day experience inside the company in various ways. The communication has been superb and it is continually improving, something I think that I have never experienced before.
What has been your favorite project at Soamee?
My favorite project remains the very first one I worked on when I arrived. It was an internal tool to make life easier for project development, but the memorable thing is that it was the seed for my later growth as a professional in Soamee. It was large and challenging enough to make me step out of my comfort zone, but at the same time helped me gain confidence in my skills and learn from my mistakes. It also gave me the ability to communicate with my peers when I faced too big of a challenge.
This project was perfect as an introduction, because it gave me a feeling of the work rhythm inside Soamee. It was also where I was able to experiment to get to know what part of web development was my main focus, falling in love with the back-end in the process.
How do you describe your work personality vs. your home life personality?
I think it is pretty similar to be honest. While at work, I always try to focus on one task at a time while being aware if someone else needs help in anything. I think this comes from my mother, who is always eager to help anyone around her in any way possible.
Rubén overlooking the big apple
At work, this translates a willingness to help my team in any convoluted or complex task. If anybody is stuck or struggling with something, I will try my best to help and discover the source of the problem, sometimes that makes me think I will be suited for QA testing.
Attention to detail is something that I bring to the table both at work and my hobbies at home. Regardless, I always try to have a smile on my face and cheer up everyone as best as I can.
Before working at Soamee, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
When I was studying at university, I gave English lessons to kids. It seems like a normal job, but the thing that made it special was how I prepared the classes: acting out in English every kind of word possible, so that the little kids would learn by doing and not repeating.
Each time, our class would turn into a theatrical play, and we’d get exhausted from learning things like “running”, “crouching”, “sprinting”, etc. The kids (and also the parents) ended up loving me and they didn’t want another teacher the following year.
Sadly, I had to move abroad to continue my studies, but I still meet some of the parents and they always thank me for my job back then. It wasn’t unusual or especially interesting, but it is a fond memory even after all these years. Also, I really don’t like teaching at all, so this showed me that with effort I can do even the most personally difficult tasks.
How do you spend your time outside of the office?
I am someone with a lot of different hobbies, so my time outside the office is very varied and prone to change a lot. Even though I have a few programming side projects, my leisure time will vary from cultural product to cultural product.
For example, I used to be an avid reader of any book that passed through my hands. And while adult life has reduced my reading time drastically, I am part of a book club with some friends where we discuss and analyze a book or two each month.
Similarly, I also like to watch every kind of movie and TV show although I’m not part of any movie club yet. Occasionally, I’ll make a blog post about characters in Bojack Horseman or the Satoshi Kon movies.
One thing I would have liked to continue pursuing was my acting hobby. I participated in a few plays over the years but, like reading books, acting has been fading away in recent years. However, I still try to act sometimes by introducing a character each time I stream video games.
If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Maybe this is a typical answer but I would say pizza. Why? Because at its core it is the perfect salad. The dough comes from a plant, it usually has tomato sauce, a vegetable, and the basic topping is cheese that is what you get when a cow processes all the grass it eats…
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
It would be Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld saga of books. My vision of the world owes a lot to him, as I grew up reading his books when I was little. I think he described a world that was full of humor, but also of great lessons about how human beings fundamentally behave.
The news of his death a couple of years ago left me devastated, because I felt as if a close teacher from my childhood had passed away. I would have liked to meet him and tell him how much it meant to the younger me viewing the world through his lens, both in books and real life.
Rubén and his team members enjoying an art class
What's your favorite quote from a book?
“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”
-Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens.
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