Developer. Illustrator. Doughnut Slayer.
These are but a few things that fully describe our beloved developer, Zarah Sikora. We almost said “battle ropes lord,” which is true but got voted down during a vigorous game of rock-paper- scissors.
Hailing from the South Shore hellscape that is Kingston Massachusetts, Zarah worked for a true variety of different organizations, including Harvard University and a Chinese MMORPG, before learning HTML/CSS on their own and then becoming a developer apprentice of ours. Since then, they’ve joined the full-time ranks of known and served a pivotal role crunching code for clients such as STANLEY™, Pan-Mass Challenge, and ThinkForward Financial.
We’ve awoken them from their vampiric slumber in order to answer some of these questions. These are their true stories.
Tell us about how you got your start?
I worked in academic research/writing for ages with full intention of going back to school and getting a Ph.D, but saw how ugly the tenure system could be and got turned off really fast. From there I was like, okay, now what? I like language learning, problem solving, and would love to do more visual work. Coding sat in the middle of those interests, so I gave it a shot and ended up really liking it.
What’s been the best project you’ve worked on at known so far?
My more recent work with the Pan-Mass Challenge has been super challenging and rewarding. We’re building on Hubspot, which is a new platform for me with different strengths and limitations than WordPress, along with very different syntax. I think the project has definitely made me more confident in my adaptability as a developer and I’m hype to keep expanding my horizons on future projects.
What can you tell us about your known DnD Character?
My DnD son Ven is a bitchy half-elf who can control people and things with his mind and wears a lot of Gucci shirts. He likes to shoplift petty items and is queasy at the sight of blood so really he isn’t a great candidate for adventure, but is slowly learning the ropes from Eric’s character. Key word: slowly.
Is there anything you find annoying/needs improvement about the process of web development?
I’ve noticed a number of agencies and companies I’ve interviewed with, freelanced with, or had friends work with try really hard to silo their designers and developers which to me seems very detrimental to the development process. Not only are they physically separated on different floors, but they’re also sort of encouraged to stay in their lane and not learn a ton about the processes on the other side. This results in a lack of understanding and empathy for other team members and what can be a very rocky collaboration process. When we understand the challenges our colleagues are facing, we can adjust our own practices to make things more efficient for everyone. I feel super lucky to not only be tight with the design team but also welcomed into design conversations – I’ve learned a lot that way and I know my work has benefitted, too!
What are some creative outlets you wouldn’t mind sharing with us plebs?
I’ve always been big into drawing but lost a lot of traction while in college because I didn’t have the time to practice so now I make it a priority and draw every week >:) (You can find me on Instagram @jellodemon) I’m mostly into drawing people but lately I’ve been doing some still life work too because who doesn’t like fruit? In the future I’d really love to learn how to screenprint. Language learning is another big creative outlet for me: I’m currently maintaining my Mandarin and getting a good foundation of Japanese grammar going with hopes of branching out into many more languages in the future.
Bottom 3 movies, any hot takes?
My pals will tell you I watch the same ~50 movies over and over and cry at Godzilla so I’m not sure how qualified I am to answer this question. I will say I really hate when a bunch of unrelated superheroes all get jammed into the same movie – it’s like mixing all the food in your fridge together and then trying to eat it.
An excerpt from the board game Above & Below) You stumble into an echoing, candle-lit chamber strewn thickly with spider silk. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the room also contains a large number of oversized spiders as well. But oddly enough, each spider in the room seems exceptionally well dressed, elegant even. Most are seated, while a few rest their abundant limbs on these silky strands. One spider coughs politely as if to suggest that you are interrupting something. One chair remains unoccupied.
What do you do?
100% befriend them. I’m always dressed for a spider dinner party.