Dragos Nedelcu

Senior Developer & Co-founder at theSeniorDev

Hey, I am Dragos. 

I am a self-taught Software Developer turned mentor.

My background is in Aerospace Engineering, but I started coding as soon as I finished my studies. Nowadays, I work mostly with JavaScript and its frameworks. 

You can speak to me in English 🇬🇧, Spanish 🇪🇸, Romanian 🇷🇴, and a tiny bit of German 🇩🇪.

After a difficult journey to the Senior level, I co-founded the SeniorDev with my brother Bogdan.

Here, we help other developers get their careers to the next level with less trouble. 

A little bit more about myself… 

I was born in a small village in the center of Romania.

I got my first computer at about 11 and spent most of my time playing video games. Around that time, I wrote my first line of code in Pascal. 

If you had asked me back then, I would probably have told you I didn’t want to become a programmer.

Code seemed very dry to me.

After my programming classes ended, I wouldn’t touch programming until my early twenties.

When I was about 14 years old, my family moved to Spain because of my father’s job. It was a huge culture shock for all of us but also one of personal growth.

I love Spanish culture and food, by the way. Maybe we will get the chance to share a paella one day :) 

At that point, I wanted to become a doctor.

That’s what every Romanian family wants their kids to become. 

But just before finishing high school, I thought Medicine might not be for me.

I wanted a job that allowed me to build big things and travel the world, and engineering seemed like a far better choice. 

After Googling what Engineering Degree pays the most (yes, that’s how I picked my Bachelor’s, lol), I bumped into Aerospace Engineering.

Airplanes seemed complicated, but the whole thing sounded cool, so I signed up. I moved to Madrid, where my university was located. 

This turned out to be kind of a mistake.

Besides being intense, I found Aerospace Engineering to be dull at the same time.

We were still calculating most stuff by hand. We did a bit of coding with Matlab but no proper programming. 

At the same time, it felt like the world we live in is digitizing fast, and how could I call myself an Engineer without being able to code?

In my second year of university, I got a summer job with a lot of free time, and that’s when I started learning JavaScript.

After finishing my studies, I jumped from job to job, all of which involved some kind of coding. Sometimes, it was Python, and other times, it was JavaScript or PHP.

I also did quite a bit of SEO. I also touched just a bit of React back then. It was 2015, and it just got released. Only a few companies were using it. 

At that time, Madrid was becoming small, and my dream of “traveling the world” was vanishing. It was again time to move.

In 2027, I moved to Berlin. My brother Bogdan, who was already there, helped me with everything, including finding a new job. 

It turned out my skills were pretty basic for the Berlin market. I came from agencies building websites, and most companies here were building their own software. 

After some initial promotions, my developer career started to get stuck.

I became “the React developer” on my team.

Fast-forward two years, and not much happened.

I didn’t really like the job I was working at.

The management was unprofessional, and we weren’t too focused on best practices, and we paid the price for it. Night deployments and working over the weekend were common. 

During this time, I also acquired some very bad habits like eating fast food, drinking way too much (I mean, it is Germany, you know), and watching trash TV (instead of studying new things).

Me totally burnt out, with no clear goals, no focus, working hard and achieving very little.

I tried several ways to change my situation

On the weekends, I took online courses, worked on side projects, and attended hackathons. But nothing seemed to work.

Sure, I did get better. But not better enough to pass interviews for one of the tech companies I dreamed of working for. 

Winning a hackathon in 2018 at IdeaLab in Vallendar, Germany. We poured a few nights into getting Alexa to connect to our api, but it worked.

That’s when I met my first mentor.
He introduced me to the concept of “professional software engineering.” He also recommended books, connected me with different people, and helped me define a path forward.

Meeting one of my heroes, Dan Abramov at WeAreDevelopers.

Those were some of the best times in my development career.
Soon, things started to change.
I got a new job as a front-end developer for a much better company. I also got another job teaching code at a Boot Camp.
On the weekends, I started mentoring developers from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping them get jobs.

Having a cup of mulled wine the first batch of students at the ESMT Coding Bootcamp. 

That’s how the idea for theSeniorDev started.
Yes, I worked a lot back then, but I also had tons of fun, so it was worth it!
At about that time, I also started posting lessons I learned on LinkedIn and realized that so many other developers were struggling with the same issues.
Meanwhile, I was about to receive a big promotion at my job (think Staff Engineer level), but my little mentoring side project was growing. After a long chat with my family and mentors, I decided to jump into the water.
In 2020, just after the COVID pandemic hit, I quit my job to mentor and coach developers full-time, and CodeWithDragos started.
When my first students started coming in, between technical training and coaching, I could barely breathe. That’s when my brother Bogdan, who was already at the Engineering Manager level, offered to help me out.
He joined the team, and things started to grow.

Bogdan joins the team and theSeniorDev.com is born.

Our students keep on getting amazing results. As the COVID pandemic eases down we start holding in-person get togethers. We expand to the US and Canada. 

This was our first Berlin in-person get-together. COVID was still going strong. Only a few people made it. We had an amazing time anyway!

It’s been a few years since then. In the meantime, we moved to the SeniorDev, and built yet another program, Software Excellence. The rest is history.

Looking sharp at one of our yearly in-person get-togethers in London. 

Now, over 250+ software developers worldwide have gone through our programs. Many are far beyond Senior, becoming Tech Leads and Principal Engineers.

It’s been a hell of a ride, and I look forward to much more.

If you want to connect with me, you can do so on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. Also, if you are a JavaScript developer looking for a more efficient way to improve your skills, check out our YouTube channel.

Finally, if you want Bogdan and me to personally help you reach the next level, book a chat with me here, and let’s get to know each other!

P.S. As for hobbies, when not mentoring our students, I like to go to the gym, cook healthy food, travel whenever I can, act on stage, play pool with my friends, write on our blog, and read. Sounds like a lot? Well, I don’t watch the news and don’t watch a lot of Netflix, which gives me plenty of time to do all that stuff.