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Pachi Parra Polywork interview

Developer Pachi Parra on balance, beating burnout by knowing when to say no

Pachi Parra (@pachicodes) is a developer, writer, and all-around multihyphenate who's built a personal brand by taking an authentic approach to engaging communities online (and off).

So naturally, Pachi was game for all the questions, including the pros and cons of creating technical content, embracing her growing personal brand, and bringing balance to her work and life to avoid burnout.

10 questions with: Developer & Content Creator Pachi Parra

More on Pachi's journey below. Bonus: get to know how she showcases her personal and professional accomplishments on Polywork here.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into coding/dev?

I was living in the U.S. (I am from Brazil) and working as a nanny for several years. When I started to get close to my 30s I needed a more solid career, something I could grow on. It was then that my older brother, a senior developer, told me to try programming.

2. You’ve been a prolific writer over the years – what led you to get into writing?

I have always loved to write, ever since I first started, really. Once I started learning how to code, I started writing about my journey and what I was learning. And I have been doing it for four years now.

Porque as pessoas estão desenvolvendo dentro de containers?
Esse artigo foi escrito com base no artigo Why are people developing inside containers? Escrito pela…

One of Pachi's bylines for DEV Community

3. The topics you cover are fairly technical — what’s been most challenging about writing for a wide dev audience on such complex topics?

The more technical my article is, the more I worry about people's opinions about it. I think my biggest challenge has been my imposter syndrome around it. Every time I post a technical article I sit waiting for someone to comment “it sucks” even though it’s never happened.

4. While there could be an argument that we’ve seen some advancement in growing the community of women who code, do you think there’s still progress to be made?

Oh yes, there is still a lot to be done! The number has grown, but it is still not nearly enough. Teaching women to code is not enough, we have to teach companies to have an inclusive space where these women can feel safe to grow in their careers. The same goes for writing about it. As I mentioned in the last question, it is scary to post technical articles, especially as a woman.

5. With good writing comes more attention, and the creation of what we call a “personal brand” these days. How have you thought about the “Pachi Parra brand” in recent years and its impact on your personal and professional journey?

It took me some time to understand that I am a brand. This is especially true in the field of Developer Relations where I work. My brand started before I realized that and now I just go with the flow.

An example is that my green hair is now part of it, it would be really weird if I dyed it another color haha (that is ok, because I love my green hair). However, I have started being more careful about the way I communicate on social media and on the things I advocate for. 

Some people don’t voice political opinions online, for example, but that is important, so my political stances became part of my brand. People who follow me know that.

6. Many of the developers in our community say that a big part of their online presence is a personal website. How has your site, and by extension, the presence you’ve built on Polywork, helped you build a more holistic and authentic online presence?

It is such a great help to have a space online to add all you have worked on, and have the freedom to customize that space the way you want! And Polywork has helped me to do just that.

7. How do you balance the personal as the professional?

In the beginning, I didn’t and the result was that burnout snuck up on me. Today I understand better what my body and mind need.

The first tip is to have a set time to start working and to stop. Working remotely it is easy to work an extra hour without realizing it! So it is all on my calendar. Also, lunch breaks! That must be on your calendar and you need to actually take it.

The most important thing for me was learning to say no. I am a writer and a public speaker, so often I would agree to more talks and articles than was healthy. When I started to prioritize and say no to some of these engagements, I got closer to that balance. Still not there though haha.

Pachi also posts content from her speaking engagements on her YouTube channel.

8. What have you learned along your personal and/or professional journey so far? Is there anything you’d do differently?

It doesn’t matter the area or product you are working on, in the end, everything is about people, so communication is key for good relationships, personal or professional.

With that in mind, maybe I would have invested more in learning about how to communicate better since high school.

9. Where do you find creativity/inspiration?

In the communities I belong to and their people. Just seeing what people are doing, and what problems they are trying to solve inspires me a lot to write content and more recently AI chatbots haha. If I have to write something and can’t come up with a topic, I will just chat with one of the tools we have available and I always have new ideas after.

10. Are there any “tools of the trade” (i.e., tech stack) you live by?

Can I say Polywork? Haha.

Nowadays, AI like I mentioned in the last question have been really saving me time. Also Grammarly. I type too fast and if I stop to fix each error as I type I will never get anything done, so Grammarly is my best friend.