A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
Introducing, We are #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Daryl. Daryl Chymko is a platform engineer for Automattic. When he isn’t helping fortune 500 companies wield their WordPress websites, you’ll find Daryl trail running through the mountains or fostering Vernon’s growing tech ecosystem.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
When I moved here from Edmonton in 2005, there were a few of us who just started forming this community. Twitter was really huge for the community then. We used a hashtag to notify people of workshops around town being held by various individuals. When the existing community saw what we were doing with Geek Beers, they warmed up to us.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m the platform engineer, software developer, for a company called Automattic. They’re the company behind WordPress. We work with fortune 500 companies around the world to help them make use of WordPress in interesting and fun ways. Our company of over 1,000 works remotely—distributed around the world.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I’ve always been involved in computers. When I was 8 years old, I would teach myself coding. I’d copy the code from the book and try to build games. I had built this bulletin board system where people could call in and we’d just list whatever things they called in with. It got pretty popular. We ended trenching a ditch through our neighbour’s yard for a second phone line to support it.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
We need to keep moving and keep progressing. I took a risk going into web-based languages. It paid off, but the languages we use now aren’t going to be the language of technology in 5 years. When I went to the first Startup Weekend in Vancouver, I realized my web-based skills were becoming less and less important as things were moving into app development.
How do you like to give back or add value to the community?
Taking my experience in building a community in Kelowna translates well to building one in Vernon. Everything in Vernon was just one group. Now, as we grow, people are starting to find their own tribes. Holding Geek Beers is another way in which I give back. I also helped to create Startup Weekend here in Kelowna—it’s still going on today.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
I’d love to see more connections between UBC, the college and boot camps. Job postings are always looking for senior talent, but you need to be able to grow talent locally. We need companies who are willing to offer entry-level opportunities or hire junior talent, that will send senior talent to instruct classes and gain the interest of the students.
What is something that people don’t know about you?
If I wasn’t into tech, I’d be a pilot. I’ve flown 35 hours in a small plane in Edmonton. I was flying by myself when I was 16—I was trying to get my pilot’s license before my driver’s license. It ended up costing a lot of money, and I was 16. I was making minimum wage and just couldn’t afford it. I think it worked out better the way it did.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Or can share?
Knowing when is enough is an important thing, especially when trying to grow and hustle but you aren’t happy. I was pretty happy with where I was but I was always chasing money and a better position. You can’t get those younger years of your life back. It’s not about being complacent, it’s knowing that it doesn’t need to be the endless hamster wheel that people think it is.