Podcast about transitioning from developer to PostgreSQL specialist, with Derk van Veen

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.

How do you feel when your day doesn’t go as planned? In this episode of the Path To Citus Con, the podcast for developers who love Postgres, guest Derk van Veen joins co-hosts Claire Giordano and Pino de Candia to talk about his journey from Java developer to Postgres specialist.


What makes you feel alive at work? Is it the routine tasks, the predictable outcomes, the stable environment? Or is it the unexpected challenges, the unknown variables, the chaotic situations? If you are like Derk (and I), you thrive on the latter. Maybe you love to jump on tough problems and find beautiful solutions—or maybe you enjoy the thrill of finding the root cause of a slow system or some faulty code. You don't just follow a recipe. You ask questions, explore options, and experiment with different strategies. How do you partition a table? Why do you partition a table? What are the trade-offs of each approach?

In this post, you’ll find some of our favorite episode highlights and quotes. You’ll find links to where you can subscribe and listen to past episodes of the podcast at the end of the post.



Figure 1: YouTube thumbnail for episode 12 of the Path To Citus Con, the podcast for developers who love Postgres, with (starting in the top left, listed clockwise) Derk van Veen, Claire Giordano, and Pino de Candia. The topic is “From developer to Postgres specialist.”

Highlights from the podcast episode with Derk van Veen


“It always is about the why. Why do you share this? Why do you have to tell this to this audience? Why do you have this slide? Why is this visual on your slide? It's always about the why. Every part of it.” – Derk van Veen

When talking about conferences and public speaking, Derk shares how to sell a story, meaning that every part of a presentation and what you say needs to be intentional. You need to understand why it is there and make sure it is there for the right reasons. The idea is to guide the audience along a straight line, a smooth path, without unnecessary distractions or deviations.


“Usually first my heart rate doubles and I'm like, all right, this is not good. And I try first to take a step back. Like, just walk down the stairs, one floor, get a cup of tea, take a few deep breaths, go back up and then just start slowly and methodically [tackling] the issue.” – Derk van Veen

When your heart starts racing, it's like your body's alarm system is kicking in. But instead of letting the panic take over, it's about taking control. Stepping back, even just for a moment, can work wonders and this is what Derk does when things aren’t going as planned. Sometimes a small break is all you need to hit the reset button. Then, when you're ready, tackle the problem one step at a time.


“So you can do all this development work. You can see whether it works out and you don't have to worry about breaking something because you're on your own fork.” – Derk van Veen

Forks are freedom. Derk discusses that at first, he saw forks as a waste of effort. However, through talking to colleagues and giving it a try, he realized that forking is not just a technical skill. It’s also a social one. It is a way of collaborating with other developers, sharing your ideas, and editing the code without breaking things for everyone else. It’s a way to contribute to the software and understand if what you are creating will work, be useful, and help others.


“[The slide] has to be very easy, easy to digest, easy to understand. The easier the better. It's a contribution to the story, to you as a presenter, to what you're trying to share with your audience. If you want to share bullet points with your audience, just send them an email.” – Derk van Veen

According to Derk, when it comes to your presentation slides, simplicity is your secret weapon. Think about it—your slides should practically speak for themselves. If they're too complicated, your audience might miss the point entirely. Keep it easy, digestible, and clear. Your slides aren't just background noise; they're an essential part of your storytelling.


Where to find Path To Citus Con podcast episodes (and transcripts)


You can listen to and find the show notes online for this From developer to Postgres specialist episode with Derk van Veen—and the transcript is online too.


Our next podcast episode will be recorded live:

  • Where: Microsoft Open Source Discord
  • When: Wed Mar 06 @ 10am PST | 1pm EST | 6pm UTC
  • Guest: with the amazing Arda Aytekin, to talk about
  • Topic: spinning up on Postgres & AI
  • Calendar invite: Mark your calendar to participate in the live text chat that happens in parallel to the live recording (we’re huge fans of social audio on Discord). All the instructions for joining the live show are in the cal invite.

You can find all the past episodes for the Path To Citus Con podcast on:

More useful links:


Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the episodes of the Path To Citus Con podcast and would love that you share it with friends and the database community. Rating and reviewing us on your favorite podcasting platform will also help others discover it.

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