Coding in the age of AI. Is job security for developers under threat?

Embark on a captivating voyage through time and technology with Waldek. In this insightful interview, we navigate from his days shaping print media to his present role in the world of travel-tech. Unveil the intricacies of his career, from bridging business and IT to his take on the AI revolution. Join us as we explore not only his tech prowess but also his affinity for quantum mysteries and astronomy. Are you ready? Let’s go!

MATEUSZ: What was your first job?

WALDEK: Those were the times when people still read newspapers. I arranged articles in a graphic program. I prepared advertisements and filled in obituaries that needed to be incorporated into the pages.

MATEUSZ: This isn’t a joke, right?

WALDEK: No, it’s not. It was a weekly newspaper called Tucholski, you can probably still find those materials somewhere.

MATEUSZ: So, how did you go from writing obituaries and editing articles in Tucholski weekly to becoming a programmer? 🙂

WALDEK: My first professional encounter with IT was working in a printing house, where I worked as an IT specialist. Specifically, I was responsible for everything related to computers 🙂 From installing software and connecting hardware to writing and implementing an order management system. At that time, all orders were taken by phone and written on pieces of paper.

MATEUSZ: Quite analog, right? 🙂

WALDEK: Yes, that’s why I thought it could make work easier for both me and others, so I developed a system for managing orders. It streamlined the work of the entire printing house and of course, mine as well. It also helped me in job hunting because I could showcase a large project that I had accomplished.

MATEUSZ: So, were you already in a developer or programmer role at that time?

WALDEK: Not entirely, it was a role that was divided between programming tasks, project management, and implementation.

MATEUSZ: So, a One Man Army? How did you feel in such a role?

WALDEK: I spent quite some time in my car – I had implementations all over Poland. These were trips to clients that sometimes lasted for several days. In hindsight, it was a good job. I enjoy interacting with people and I feel that I excelled in customer interactions.

MATEUSZ: So, you’re challenging the stereotype of an IT person who’s glued to their computer and avoids contact, especially with clients.

WALDEK: I guess so :).

MATEUSZ: When did your journey with begin, and what do you do here?

WALDEK: This journey started in 2018 during the summer, so you could say exactly 5 years ago. What do I do? I have my ideas that I want to implement here, and I try to persuade other people in the company to embrace these ideas :).

MATEUSZ: With what success?

WALDEK: Sometimes interesting things come out of these ideas, for example: currently, we’re developing a user importer that will streamline our work. What’s valuable is that we have a real impact on how our tool looks and how it changes. We can discuss every aspect internally, starting from business needs, through preparing documentation and designs, to writing code and deploying to production.

MATEUSZ: What else do you do besides convincing the team about your ideas? 🙂

WALDEK: Software development and solving bugs.

MATEUSZ: Writing new features is great, but solving bugs might not be a favorite task for developers, right? Can you give an approximate percentage breakdown of these tasks?

WALDEK: Writing new functionalities takes up a much larger portion of the work. I think solving bugs is definitely the minority, so that’s good :).

MATEUSZ: What do you do on a daily basis? Are you responsible for any specific topics?

WALDEK: Yes, each of us in the IT department has our own areas. I’m responsible for the development of features related to reports and user management, among other things. It’s a very dynamic environment, meaning we often prepare various reports for the implementation department, finance, or customer support.

MATEUSZ: So, you have a lot of interaction with people from other departments?

WALDEK: Yes, I often work with people outside the IT department, and I enjoy it. Additionally, I also serve as the on-call person after IT department working hours, and in case of major issues noticed by employees, I’m often the first point of contact.

MATEUSZ: Does your previous experience as an implementation specialist and a Project Manager help in these interactions?

WALDEK: It does! I know that non-technical individuals often find it difficult to convey their requirements in a way that’s understandable and accessible to the IT department. Maybe not necessarily understandable, but feasible and something that can be reflected in what the programmer needs to write.

MATEUSZ: So, you know both the business language and the technical language.

WALDEK: I try :).

MATEUSZ: I assume being such a “bridge” leads to a lot of meetings where things need to be discussed, clarified, decided, and it seems that programmers usually don’t like too many of such activities (laughter).

WALDEK: Indeed, there are quite a lot of these meetings. For me, Mondays are such days. I try to schedule all the key meetings then so that I can focus on action for the rest of the week. Of course, there are unexpected meetings that pop up sometimes, but I don’t have a problem with that ;).

MATEUSZ: Waldek, shifting the topic slightly, how did you end up focusing specifically on backend development?

WALDEK: When I started my journey in IT, I didn’t really make that distinction. I worked with both front-end, back-end, and infrastructure. However, later on, I found that I enjoyed back-end the most, and I felt most comfortable with it.

MATEUSZ: What project or topic are you currently dedicating the most time to?

WALDEK: I’ve been working on the financial module for the past two months. That’s where I’m currently investing most of my time.

MATEUSZ: What annoys you the most as a programmer?

WALDEK: When something drags on for a long time and there are no visible results of work :).

MATEUSZ: What do you appreciate about working in the travel-tech industry?

WALDEK: I know people who can help me plan my vacations (laughter).

MATEUSZ: That’s true! 🙂 Does working as a programmer in the travel-tech industry differ from your previous experiences?

WALDEK: I think that work varies somewhat in every industry, and everywhere you can learn something new. Here, there are certainly a lot of integrations that we have worked on. Looking back, our system is quite extensive, and it takes a lot of time to truly understand it :).

MATEUSZ: You’re an experienced specialist. What programming languages have you had the opportunity to work with so far? What do you prefer, and in which one do you feel the most comfortable?

WALDEK: I’ve worked with Java and PHP, and now TypeScript. TypeScript is the language I find most enjoyable to work with. However, if I need to use a different language, I don’t have a big problem with that either. If you understand the general working principles, it’s easy to transition to a different language.

MATEUSZ: And if you weren’t a programmer, what would you like to do?

WALDEK: Following in my dad’s footsteps, I wanted to be an ambulance driver :). On a serious note, I’ve been involved in many things, as they say, I’m not afraid of any job.

MATEUSZ: A multi-talented person! With my previous question, I wanted to approach a topic that’s been quite prominent lately. I’m referring to the notion that AI will take away jobs from programmers. What do you think about that?

WALDEK: I believe that programmers shouldn’t be afraid in the near future, at least until AI becomes intuitive and capable of understanding natural language. During product development discussions, a lot of questions arise. Much time is spent ensuring that the IT department understands business requirements, or vice versa, making sure that the business understands what’s technically feasible and what’s not 🙂 However, progress related to AI is inevitable. It’s a technology that’s evolving and will likely continue to do so. New AI-based tools emerge every day. In our IT department, we use Github Copilot, which allows us to save time on coding and use it for conceptual work that AI isn’t ready for yet.

MATEUSZ: Shifting the topic, what’s your fondest memory of

WALDEK: It might not be a single memory or situation, but I have very fond memories of working in our old office. That was the era of on-site work, and I actually miss it :). Our entire team was in one room. Communication and relationship building were completely different.

MATEUSZ: So, remote work isn’t your first choice?

WALDEK: I enjoy coming to the office, but currently, I probably choose to work from home more often. The whole company has adapted to remote work, and often it’s just more convenient to stay home, avoid traffic jams, and not waste time on commutes.

MATEUSZ: How does remote work affect the separation between your home and work time? Isn’t it harder to balance when you work and when you don’t?

WALDEK: Probably, we would need to define what that balance is in the first place. What’s a healthy boundary for some might be burdensome for others. In our IT department, we have a rule that we need to be available during core hours between 10:00 and 15:00. During these five hours, we have time for meetings, teamwork, etc. The remaining three hours can be worked flexibly. I often choose to work during the night or in the evening :). I have complete peace then and can fully focus on tasks that require concentration. Core hours often bring sudden tasks or meetings that disrupt the rhythm. For me, this is a great solution. Besides, I’ve always enjoyed working at night in front of the computer :).

MATEUSZ: So, your work-life balance isn’t about working from 8:00 to 16:00 and cutting off work-related topics at 16:00. They’re essentially with you all day long?

WALDEK: You could say that. However, I feel that thanks to this scheduling of the day, I don’t neglect either area, work or life 🙂 Transitioning to this mode was difficult, but now I feel very comfortable with it.

MATEUSZ: Moving away from work-related questions, what do you spend most of your free time on?

WALDEK: We recently finished building our house. We’ve moved in for some time now, but there’s still a lot of work to do related to the garden or some minor finishing touches, so the topic of HOME currently takes up a lot of my time. I’ve always liked sports and I try to train regularly. I usually opt for running, and I’m participating in a marathon in October. I also enjoy spending time with my family, and I don’t escape into work or more social meetings. I prefer family trips; we feel great together and everyone benefits from it :).

MATEUSZ: I know you’re also interested in quantum physics, is that true?

WALDEK: I don’t conduct experiments, and I’m not an expert, but yes, I’m a big fan of the subject. I try to expand my knowledge in this field by reading books and listening to authorities. Here, I can recommend Andrzej Dragan, who not only writes about quantum physics in his book but also discusses why a bicycle doesn’t tip over or that there are left-footed and right-footed ants in the world 🙂 I think there’s a bit of a lack of this human approach to the topic in society or even in schools. It’s quite a complex area, but there are methods to present it in an understandable way.

Apart from quantum physics, I also enjoy observing the sky. I’ve had the opportunity to witness interesting events happening above our heads. When my kids were in kindergarten, I had a mission to promote this knowledge, to tell kindergartners about what a telescope is, how it works, and what you can see through it, what to do to travel to space. In my opinion, in today’s world, where the space race is already gaining momentum, these are topics that the next generation will encounter every day – rockets, telescopes, satellites, or other planets.

MATEUSZ: Keeping in line with that vibe, imagine you have a time machine. What would you say to yourself 20 years ago? 🙂

WALDEK: What you’re doing is okay, just be yourself!

MATEUSZ: So, without any hints about the future?

WALDEK: I’m where I want to be, I wouldn’t want to change anything.

MATEUSZ: Alright, as we approach the end of our conversation, tell me about your preferred vacation destinations and your most recent trip.

WALDEK: Usually, mountains are the destination that draws me. Lounging by a pool or the sea isn’t my style. I prefer spending my time actively and ideally in places with few people. Polish beaches during the season are quite the opposite. I’m more drawn to less frequented mountain trails :).