A passion for code

Staff profile: Lara Villavicencio

Lara Villavicencio loves dumplings, the TV sitcom Friends, and she has a passion for coding.

The 25-year-old, has been a web developer at Rocketspark since June, 2018. 

“I do both frontend and backend coding, but mostly I work on the frontend, which I enjoy the most because I like art. 

“You are kind of designing while developing. I also help out with bugs, bugs are those annoying things that can go wrong in the system and I help fix them. It’s all coding.”

Originally from the Philippines, Lara moved to Hamilton, New Zealand with her family when she was 13-years-old and she hasn’t looked back.

“I feel like it’s my home now. When I go back to the Philippines it feels different. My whole family is here, my brother, my parents, my uncle and aunty.”

Lara went to Hamilton Girls High School before going to the University of Waikato for four years where she gained her Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences. 

Lara has always loved the technical side to things, she said it runs in the family with her dad being an engineer. 

“I loved it at Uni, I got to meet a lot of people with the same interests and mindset as me, so that was really cool.”

At school Lara did a lot of art design, but not a lot of programming.

“I was going to study graphic design or architecture. But, when I applied for my degree, something changed and I decided to go for programming.

“One of my favourite subjects when I was at school was Digital Technology. I enjoyed learning things that can be done on the computer. I started coding when I was 12-years-old using Notepad. I studied HTML and CSS, the basic programming languages of web development, so I could customise my online profile on an old social media platform and that's where my passion sparked.

“I like solving problems. I think that’s one thing about web development, it’s really challenging and I like challenges, they motivate me.”

Lara acknowledged women were under represented in the coding world, but she said that never bothered her. 

“Coding is for everyone, it’s everywhere, the moment you wake up there’s an alarm going off, or when you text someone, that’s coding too.

“It’s fun seeing things that you make being used by other people. There’s a rewarding factor to it, which I really love. Seeing things transform just by typing code is awesome,” she said.

Before Lara started at Rocketspark she was working as a freelance graphic designer. 

“I started at Rocketspark part time originally, but eventually I went full time and dropped my freelance work.

“But I still do design when I can, and I do photography as well. I love to capture nature and people.”

Outside of work Lara loves spending time with her friends, hiking and taking photos.

“A lot of my friends are musical, and I play guitar and, kind of, sing as well so we often have jam sessions.”

Lara also enjoys an online game, she even joins in the weekly Counter Strike sessions Rocketspark has in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4pm and normally she’s the only chick game enough to take on the dudes. She definitely holds her own.

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