What it Takes to Be a Senior PHP Developer

Being a Senior PHP developer with over eight years of experience as a software engineer is not the only Riste Risafov is one of the best programmers in Cosmic Development who has become an important family member throughout the years. As a Senior PHP developer, Riste is primarily writing and reviewing code, but he also participates in the regular company’s R&D meetings where the implementation of new technologies is discussed.

We wanted to discover more about his success at Cosmic Development, so we decided to ask him about his personal experience with the company and to share his Cosmic journey. Moreover, we were curious about what it takes to be a Senior PHP Developer and what are the key steps in such a career. Read the interview below if you are also interested in discovering more about Riste’s professional and personal accomplishments.

When did you join the Cosmic Development family and what was for you the biggest challenge at the very beginning?

My Cosmic experience began in 2015 when I joined the family as a PHP developer. But first, let me give you a little background about my previous position which I held for four and a half years. It required building a programming department from zero mostly. That refers to buying hardware, setting up the servers, programming, etc. So the biggest challenge when I joined Cosmic Development, almost five years ago, was the teamwork, or in other words: changing my mindset to get used to working as part of a team instead of doing everything on my own like with the previous job. Furthermore, another important challenge was the social aspect, the period until I got to know all of my new colleagues, the company’s culture, the time needed until I built new friendships and so on.

Riste Risafov Senior PHP Developer
Riste Risafov in action

Being a part of a team of developers can be demanding but also very rewarding. Could you tell us how do you manage to overcome stressful situations?

To overcome every situation, taking a small break is essential for me. The next step is to explain the problem step by step in detail, like a scheme, and the resolution shows by itself. It’s similar to the “rubber duck debugging” when you try to explain the problem to someone who doesn’t have any programming experience. You must have a deep understanding of the problem so you can explain it with simple words. This insight may help anyone to avoid stress and to contribute to the team.

If you were to offer a piece of advice to your less-experienced colleagues, what would it be?

According to my personal opinion, there are three things that younger and less-experienced colleagues should know and those are the following:

  • Always be informed of the new things in your field of expertise. Make sure to read, follow, share trending news in your sector
  • Do not be afraid to ask your colleagues if you get stuck with some tasks.
  • Always leave your work at your desk. Home is the place where you should not bring your work, no matter what task you have and how important it is.
R&D meeting in Cosmic
Riste Risafov (second from the left) at one of Cosmic’s regular R&D Meetings

As a Senior PHP Developer, you probably have several websites you read on a daily basis. What would be the top five websites of your choice?

The most important website for PHP developers is probably php.net. When working as a beginner or even as a Senior PHP developer, I believe that this is a must website for reference. It’s impossible to remember everything. Then there is developer.wordpress.org which I used mostly in the time when I worked for LittleThings and AFV, two websites that are built on WordPress.

For the times when you are in a hurry and don’t want to reinvent the wheel, stackoverflow.com is a lifesaver. But be careful and make sure you don’t fall for the copy/paste trap because it can create a lot of problems later on.

Then there are laravel.com for the Laravel framework, freek.dev covers general PHP, Laravel, and JavaScript. Another website that has a lot of good posts on various topics and not only about programming subjects is dev.to.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment so far?

When working on a project to which you are so dedicated and pay so much attention it is hard to name just one. Each project demands a different skill set to build new things. To name some of them: LittleThings, AFV, and the current one, Rumble.

What is your greatest achievement in your personal life outside of work?

That’s easy, my baby boy. It is just amazing how he sees the world and gets happy even to the smallest and ordinary things. So, I can proudly say that he is my greatest achievement in life.

Meeting in Cosmic with colleagues
Riste at a meeting with his colleagues

Can you give our readers advice on how to be more productive at work?

Make sure to develop a work routine, rank your tasks according to their level of priority, and most importantly make sure to create a task schedule for the day and stick to it. But remember to take regular breaks (something I’m not doing well 🙂 ) and stay hydrated. In other words, learn how to create work-life balance and you notice a great change in your level of productivity.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love traveling to new places around the world. That is my definition of fun. I wish I could have time to travel every month to places I have never been to before. In the meantime, I have a “to-do” list of all the beautiful places in Macedonia that I never visited in my life. The list for exploring the beauties that Macedonia has to offer is getting shorter, so I will have to start making new plans and “to-do” lists.


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