Teaching himself things and trying out something new is simply a part of everyday life for Sven Graziani: whether in his job as programmer or in his private life in improvisation theatre. There’s no such thing as “not possible” for him, because he finds a way where others don’t see one. Sven is a full-stack developer at Anexia and his constant thirst for knowledge and his creative streak let him create new worlds. In this #joinourrevolution interview he told us what this is all about and how you can acquire knowledge as a self-taught developer.
Please introduce yourself: Who are you and what are you doing at Anexia?
Do you like being an all-rounder or do you prefer to specialize in something?
The advantage of being an all-rounder with focus on frontend is that I can communicate better with pure backend developers. I can formulate the requirements better and consider them in while designing new application. I can make their life easier this way and at the same time I get the best out of frontend for myself. It also helps enormously to find errors, because you can guess better where they occur. Being an all-rounder is a great advantage, especially as project lead. You can help better, coordinate better or find better workarounds.
You have been with Anexia for three years as a developer. Where did you learn software development?
I taught everything myself since I dropped out of school relatively early by an age of 16. Then I started my own business very early and was always driven to teach myself autodidactically. It all started with graphic design and photography and ended with programming. (laughs)
And how do you do that, teach yourself things?
There are different types of learners. I learn best by watching videos, unfortunately I found that out very late. But finding that out was handy because it made it easier for me to filter all the knowledge on the Internet. That’s why I only had to watch video courses in order to improve my knowledge and stay up-to-date.
What is it that makes you always wanting to learn something new?
Maybe it’s the feeling that you haven’t reached the end of your journey. In the beginning it was training, and at some point it becomes part of everyday life to spend half an hour a day looking at what’s new in the world of technology. Or which new information the developer community creates worldwide every day. I think it’s like the Coca-Cola logo: everyone thinks that it’s always been the same. But it has changed in small steps over the past 100 years. Only when you look back you see the contrast and I think that’s the same with knowledge. With the passion to learn, you can build up knowledge in small steps and in many bites. And yes, continuing my education is simply my habit. (laughs)
With the passion to learn, you can build up knowledge in small steps and in many bites. And yes, continuing my education is simply my habit.
Do you do this in other areas as well, for example hobbies?
No matter if I take something on as a hobby or in terms of work: it develops quickly and gets its own drive most of the time. For example, I have recently started doing improvisation theatre. A few weeks ago I went to watch improvisation theatre at a place nearby. I watched a session there and at the end I said that I would like to participate. Now I already have a role in a normal play in autumn! As I said, it started with a small step, I get caught up in the maelstrom of it and it quickly goes its own way. That’s how it goes with a lot of things.
With Improvisation theatre you are a good counterexample to the clichéd developer nerd. Or are we misjudging the developer community?
I think you can easily become this reclusive nerd if you are a developer. If I don’t maintain social contacts for several weeks, I lack topics of conversation that I can talk about with normal people. And since I like the idea of exchanging ideas with others, I don’t always want people around me who don’t understand topics like new software trends. But fortunately I have colleagues in the company for that. You have to say consciously: today I’m going out to meet other people, otherwise its easy to slip into social isolation as a developer. For me it’s a conscious act of mine to go out and meet people. Even I develop a certain fear of talking to people if I don’t do that. (laughs) That happens very quickly!
You have worked as a DJ, graphic designer and photographer. A creative guy in a logical job – how does that fit?
It was a process. The original trigger for what I do now was when I saw the first part of Lord of the Rings in the cinema. I was 13 years old and played a lot of computer games. The game The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind was new and we started to make a mod for it, together with 50 people from all over Europe. We changed the game and built Lord of the Rings in Morrowind. That’s how I learned to cut videos, draw textures for the game and make music for the trailers. I deliberately left out programming in the beginning because I was afraid it would be too hard. At some point the project wouldn’t work without it so I had to write code myself. That was the beginning of everything.
To answer your question how this fits together with logical thinking: everything has been born out of necessity. I start to do things out of passion but also because there has always been a necessity.
Back then you were over 50 people, at Anexia you always work in teams. Is it important to you to work together?
That’s true. I like the feeling of having a team working together on a mission. Even if I have to go the first difficult step myself until I can inspire the others. I’ve been told that I want to get my head through the wall, but that’s what it takes. (laughs) Once the ball is rolling, I can get people excited and involved. It feels good when you suddenly become a team then.
I am very adaptable and enjoy meeting new people, no matter where they come from.
In your Middle-earth replica, you were a community that came together across Europe. Has the meaning of home importance to you?
I was born in Linz, Upper Austria. I have never had a connection to my homeland. My parents were self-employed, so I lived in Italy for 5-6 years, where I also went to elementary school. After that we lived in Villach, Salzburg and Linz. I always had to find new friends, so that was never an issue for me. I am very adaptable and enjoy meeting new people, no matter where they come from.
One final question: If someone wants to become an Autodidact, what do you recommend?
Be curious and try things out. (laughs) But don’t say: “that’s not for me, I’m not good” after two or three days of trying. It’s also helpful to have a passion. For me, Lord of the Rings was the passion par excellence at that time. It was very emotional with the pictures and the music. It’s a whole package that can ignite a lot of fire, in my case for over 20 years. You just have to work for the things you burn for. And don’t lose fun if it’s not that easy. And my advise for everyone: be open for all kinds of different things in your life to allow variety and diversion.
Are you a colourful bird like Sven who is passionate about new tasks? We don’t care if you dropped out of school or your life has other kinks: We are looking forward to your application, because we need unique people like Sven and you!