Interview with Ryan Burney - The Man with Experience

Posted on September 16, 2015 by Abby. Tagged: interview


You can learn a lot from Ryan Burney.

A developer with 20 years of experience (remember Netscape?), he’s run his own digital agency, been an active freelancer, and worked internally at startups.

His specialty is Wordpress but as you’ll see in his answers to our questions, he has interesting views on interviewing and the tech scene generally.

When did you get interested in the tech scene?

I became interested in web design and development way back in 1996, when I taught myself HTML, learned to code by hand, and built a website for the (then) popular video game Duke Nukem 3D.

Have you had any big career changes? If so, what are a few helpful tips?

I've been fortunate enough to work for myself for the great majority of my career in the tech industry, but just recently went through a career change. I decided to move from working for myself (as a small business owner and taking on freelance projects) to working for a small startup. I had many other opportunities to make this transition, but ultimately decided to make the jump due to two main factors. One, the timing was right. I was tired of working alone and missed working with a team, and the offer came to me around the time I had this change of heart. Two, the company was a great cultural fit. I wouldn't have worked for anyone who offered anything less. My advice is (corny as it sounds) to follow your heart. If you want a change, don't be afraid to take it, and don't settle. Hold out for an opportunity that fits your worth, and it will come.

What tips do you have for others who are thinking of doing contract work?

If you haven't already begun, specialize. Get really good at one particular thing, and you will become the go-to person for that kind of work.

As a contractor, you probably have a lot of experience interviewing. Do you have any helpful insight that you have learned?

I've always found it helpful to go into an interview not needing the job. It removes a lot of pressure and allows you to be yourself. Also, know and believe that you are qualified for the position - it will come across in the interview and give the people on the other side of the table confidence that you are the right person for the job. (this should go without saying, but you should only be taking interview for jobs that you are truly qualified to do or that you could learn to do)

Where do you see the tech/programming industry going?

Towards automation and specialization. For example, coding custom WordPress templates used to be a special skill, but now it's become very commoditized and automated. Current and future programmers will need to learn how to specialize further, or build a business around automating something that is currently done by hand.

Anything else you want to add regarding consulting or technology in general?

It's been a blessing to have worked in this field for as long as I have. It's been good to me, and so has BW Bacon.