Latpro.com

Interview with an accidental multilingual webmaster

A multilingual webmaster with fourteen years of experience recommends Linux and computer science fundamentals.

What is your job title?

Webmaster

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?

The traditional webmaster activity that I do is maintaining the content of our company’s website, which includes front-end design, light programming on the back-end, and everything in between.

Because I have worked for the same organization for a long time, I have become involved in many facets of marketing, management and system administration as well.

What is your ethnicity? Has it ever hurt or helped you?

When I look at the mirror, I see me, and I am stuck with it!  So I will leave the labeling to others.

If it helps, I am the offspring of a Portuguese and a French Jew, and I was raised in Brazil, which in itself is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures.

I honestly never analyzed whether my ethnicity has helped me or not.

What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?

My native language is Portuguese (the Brazilian flavor) and it has helped me a lot since it was either a requirement or a “desirable skill” in my last three jobs.

In addition to being fluent in English, after eleven years in South Florida and a couple trips to Argentina and Peru, I feel comfortable speaking Spanish. I also hack “Tourist French”.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that lesson happen?

I learned that there are relentless hackers trying to steal anything from you. Your data, money, traffic, reputation, you name it!  And it’s a never ending battle.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?

Kids need to be prepared for careers that don’t exist today, so a strong foundation of math, writing, and reading comprehension will always be important.

A few subjects that should be stressed in K12 are Critical thinking, problem-solving, personal finance and more hands-on activities.

Regarding IT, I am surprised and troubled that schools don’t expose kids to Open Source and Linux.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I came upon this line of work somewhat by accident. I went to college to pursue a music degree focusing on performance and audio recording technologies.

During my college years, I witnessed the death of the “magnetic tape” and the birth and growth of non-linear digital audio editing, where the personal computer is the main tool.

After becoming deeply involved with Digital Audio, I drifted to Desktop Publishing and subsequently to the World Wide Web.

Going back, I would like to have learned more fundamentals in computer science and the systems administration arena.

On a good day, when things are going well, what’s happening and what do you like about it?

A good day has challenging, yet attainable projects and opportunities to learn new tricks.  Clients and peers are happy and giving good feedback.

When everything goes wrong, what’s happening and what do you dislike?

“Everything goes wrong” is the key-phrase.  Problems usually come in pairs or more. It could be a security issue or a non-functioning third party service that you depend upon.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The “Lego Factor” and problem-solving are my favorite parts of the job.  My work often involves tinkering, building solutions and making a process flow faster.

How stressful is your job?

The job is moderately stressful. Fortunately, experience helps one cope with it.

Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

Yes, but you need to know when to unplug.  I don’t check work via smartphone.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?

Webmaster is a bit of an open-ended job title so salary ranges will depend on what you are bringing to the table, the economy and the competition in your market.  You could search the range and encounter offers anywhere from 35k all the way to six figures. It really depends on the requirements.  I have a flexible employer and short commute, which alone is worth thousands.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

There were many rewarding moments where we received positive feedback from our customers.  It’s nice to know that my work can have a significant impact on the lives of others.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?

The occasional recession is usually a down moment, especially when we have to let go a team member for budgetary reasons rather than performance.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

Nowadays there are more formal ways to get an education in Computer Science but critical thinking and ability to teach yourself are the best skills one can have. The information is out there, and it’s free!  It’s a matter of time management and focusing on the long-term.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

As in any career, make sure you fully understand what you are getting into, and what it takes to succeed and to be happy.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I take some time off in the summer and in the winter.

I have more vacation than the average American. On the other hand, I also try to stay available to our team in case of an emergency.  It’s a fair trade off.

Are there any common myths you want to dispel about what you do?

I’d like to make my neighbors aware that I can’t always fix their computers easily!

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

Taking a year-long sabbatical and driving a convertible in Europe with no set schedule or destination.

LatPro Admin


7 comments

  • Kids need to be prepared for careers that don’t exist today, so a strong foundation of math, writing, reading-comprehension will always be important.
    A few subjects that should be stressed in K12 are Critical thinking, problem solving, personal finance and more hands-on activities.

  • Well I think that this definitly relates to my field of study. As a graphic designer i love the “lego

    factor” as well. Putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together. I would like to focus on Web

    Design as well as print media. I was not aware that a certain amount of computer science would

    be helpful in creating and maintaining websites. I will consider this when selecting my classes

    when I transfer to a four year college. I believe that problem solving is a huge part of what I do

    and love how he says “A good day has challenging, yet attainable projects and opportunities to

    learn new tricks. Clients and peers are happy and giving good
    feedback.” He does not see his

    good day as a day without challenge and is still looking for opportunities for growth which is how

    i like to think.

  • I like that he said kids need to be prepared for careers that don’t exist today. So many things can change and even put you out of a job just because someone else knows how to do new things you never learned! I could definitely see myself ending up in a different field by “accident” as well. I have so many different things that interest me, I could be happy in a wide range of fields!

  • As a student in basically the same field as the webmaster, I can very much relate. I am an Interactive Media and Graphic Design major going into my third year of school. Throughout the way, I have learned that a huge part of my career is not going to be about doing a specific job, or being proficient in a specific software. Jobs, requirements, and technology will always change, but being able to learn quickly and approaching it with a can-do attitude can and will always make the difference.

    This past summer, I was lucky enough to experience a month long internship at a small Interactive Media startup company in Los Angeles (my first real job). The most important thing I learned there was the importance of the process before the product. I sat in on team design projects as clients came to us, the group came up with ideas, showed them to the clients, changed the ideas again, and so on. That went on for awhile, and then we started building wire frames along with mood boards to lay out the look and feel of the project. We didn’t even speak to developers or programmers for most projects until all of this was finished. That way, when we ran into unforeseen problems, they were easily fixable.

    I did a little of everything during that internship. Many of the problems I encountered during my time there absolutely tested my limits. I discovered a whole new meaning behind “learning on the job,” and if I hadn’t had the willpower and ability to “teach myself” (as the webmaster brings up), I couldn’t have done it. In my opinion, the ability to tackle all kinds of possible problems, critical thinking and readily learning new knowledge are all extremely important for not only your career, but your life.

  • I am bilingual and in a process of becoming multilingual (which means my third language) and reading about her post of being raise in Brazil and having a mother and father from different ethnicity makes me feel I could do my best with my languages as she has in her career.

    My first language is Spanish, my second language is English, and my third language, that I am currently working on, is Japanese.I don’t know what ethnicity plays in the situation she is in but she enjoying her job and giving out free tips on working hard to other people like college students.

    Most of things she describe about math, reading comprehensive, and writing skill are really important on the work field especially communication is the key.

    This article inspire me to use my languages more often than just not speaking at all.

  • I am currently enrolled working on my web development BA degree so I can compare myself to this article. Even through I am not not mutilingual I am still able to create web sites and about to graduate next year.

    I could see depending on where someone is located and who their clientele would be the web master or developer would need to know more than one language.

    I do agree with the article students should learn more about open source.