Kristina Durivage

Below is an email interview I conducted with Kristina Durivage. Kristina is a well known engineer, hardware hacker and speaker both in Minnesota and across the country. You can find more information about her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit of your background as a developer?  
    1. When did you start? 
      My dad bought me a domain name in high school. I had a pretty bad (by today’s standards) digital camera, and wanted somewhere to put pictures of me and my friends, so I built a website for that. I also would edit blog templates and try to get commenting systems to work so I could be an Online Teen before it was cool. 
    2. What was your first language? 
      Standard HTML when Microsoft frontpage wouldn’t let me click and drag. Old school stuff!

  2. What is your primary area of focus in software development?
    I was a full stack dev for the first few years of my career, but ended up doing more and more front end work with different job changes.

    1. What is your language/framework of choice?
      Javascript, and focusing on React as the framework.

  3. What are the tools you use most during your day?
    VS Code, Sublime Text, Tower

  4. What made you decide to focus on frontend development as a career?
    I really liked thinking through problems as a user, and trying to translate a task to something that would be as simple for a user to do as possible. I loved the position where I knew the technical problem from a developer’s standpoint, but could think about it from a UX/end user standpoint, and solve for the middle part. It also lets me think creatively about problems outside of the ones I’ve given – if I know what data a company has, what would it take to make that useful to ourselves and others? Focusing on the front-end lets me think creatively from a technical background, and I really enjoy that.

  5. As a frontend developer, what is the highlight of the job?
    I love the satisfaction seeing the end user directly interfacing with your work. At Target I work on an internal tool, so we have meetings where the Product Owner goes over features with a subset of our users, and seeing excited reactions over something I built is amazing.

  6. What is the single most unexpected part of your job?
    There are, without fail, a million ways to express the same thing. Even coming into a conversation thinking you’re being super clear, it’s always a lot of work getting everyone on the same page. Every time, I find a new way to realize communication is hard. 

  7. What is the part of your job you enjoy the least?
    Responding to unexpected stress. It generally means decisions will be rushed and less informed, which leads to a worse solution, which in turn can lead to other issues down the road. 

  8. Outside of work, you’ve done a number of hardware related projects, can you tell us about those?
    It started with my dad asking me if I had ever considered putting lights in clothing, and led to a few projects where I had lights in clothing that would receive messages from the internet. I’ve put lights in quite a few objects since then that can communicate with the internet, and it’s been a really fun area to learn new skills.

  9. Would you say that being in Minnesota has helped or hindered your career?
    It goes both ways – Minnesota is a bit slower to adopt new technology, which can slow your career if you want to specialize in something considered untested by the industry. However, overall the tech scene here is incredible and there are always plenty of opportunities to do anything you want, even if it doesn’t translate into a usable job skill immediately.

  10. What is the best piece of advice you can offer a new software engineer, or anyone interested in getting into software development?
    Accept frustration as part of the universal learning experience. As a beginner, it’s really easy to not understand something and take that as a block on moving forward. It’s also really easy to look at everything that’s out there for software and feel overwhelmed. Compounding all of that, it’s also-also really easy to look at experienced developers and feel like they have all the answers. Experienced developers aren’t experienced in the breadth and depth of what’s out there for software. They found something to focus on, and were frustrated every day as they learned.. And most likely still deal with frustration every day. New devs: Keep in mind you aren’t just frustrated learning a new skill, you’re navigating what skills are important, which is extremely hard to do without experience. Give yourself a break, reach out for help, and know it gets better.

  11. Any Minnesota tech organizations you’d like to call out that people may be interested in learning more about?
    Javascript MN ( is still doing virtual events, and is a great organization!

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