You Ask, We Answer
The Tech Academy reached out to our CEO, Jonathon Hensley, and asked, What do you look for in a software developer? So, on a summery Friday this June, our crew of Emergies walked across downtown for pizza and talking tech.
Front-End Developer, Brenna Switzer discovered an ancient tome of knowledge – The 3rd Edition of the Dummies’ Guide to The Internet For Dummies. (Disclaimer: She wanted to, but did not take it.)
You can watch the entire presentation here: Tech Talk: Jonathon Hensley or read through the highlights of his transcript below.
Introducing: Emerge CEO/Chief Creative Officer, Jonathon Hensley:
Origin Story aka “How to become a CEO of a Digital Experience Agency”
To start, I’ll just give you a little bit of background on myself and Emerge. I grew up in Silicon Valley, which gave me the opportunity to be in an environment teaming with technology. We had ample access to user groups and communities around Apple and HP Technology which were writing early software. Basically, I’ve been building computers and writing software since I was about seven years old.
Discover the Who, Rather than What
So, I asked the group to take a step back with me, a giant leap really, to understand what I look for in a developer. We begin with the history of engineering, for a wide-angle of context. The inventions and feats of engineering that have shaped who we are today has formed a culture experiencing digital transformation at an unprecedented pace of change… going from the invention of the wheel in 3500 BC to modern supercomputers in your pocket.
I see the people of Emerge from the context of greatness. I spend more time working than at home, or anywhere else, and what is absolutely critical is that I enjoy the company of the people at work. For me, that is what makes Emerge very special.
The reason I go so far back into the context of the dawn of time, is the way I see it – innovation, technology, developers, engineers, have done amazing things for a long, long time. However.
We’re obsessed with big ideas as a culture today, and we idolize their champions, for me personally, I idolize the makers.
That’s the difference for me. Code does not change the world or make things happen, makers change the world and make things happen. And developers are the modern artists and makers of our time. That’s you guys. So, that gives you a little bit of context of how I think about what a developer is.
Going Beyond the Job Description
Now let’s talk about what I look for in a developer. I want to provide a little context — Anyone can start off with skills. They are table stakes. So, it’s important that you have a wide breadth of understanding of the technologies that you’re interested in. Whether that is front-end based technology, server side application based technologies, data infrastructure, whatever it may be, it’s all fantastic, but simply prerequisites to the game if you want to be a developer.
So, what I want to talk about, given that as a CEO, I’m not the tech guy anymore… rather than talk about technology, I’ll talk about the other skills, that I think, are equally important to the core skills of being able to do the work.
Four Key Skills for Software Developers: Beyond the Basics
- Striving for excellence. Quality is absolutely mission critical in this business. A lot of technology is being built as a disposable asset these days. DIY website platforms come and go. But when I look at what a developer is doing, they’re bringing in the ability to solve a problem, thinking about performance: scalability, compatibility, future-proofing the technology, and even security. So it’s a different lens on what excellence looks like.
- Always being curious. What that boils down to is embracing change. Technology is moving quickly all the time, and we’re dealing with rapid change in evolution. And as developers, many times there are a lot of variables that you do not control. Whether it be the technology, Apple comes up with an update to IOS, you know, Chrome has an update that comes up, whatever you just built, breaks.
- Thirst for Learning. This is understanding how to develop mastery, whether it be around a specific technology, or a solution that is in place, or a product that you might be working on, or an integration point. Integration issues are rampant now, with an unprecedented set of legacy technologies that have been opened up over the last decade, but they’re now out of date and needing massive innovation or modernization to take place. The ability to work across the spectrum of technology, willing to learn and embrace both legacy and new technologies and understand how you build those bridges, is going to be an incredibly powerful skill. This ability to think as an integrator, and not building always from the ground up, is also a mission-critical skill. It gives you a new path to think about how you solve the problem and it will be a huge skill to serve you and any company that you’re working with.
- Excellent communication. Being able to engage a client, whether it’s externally or internally, is critical. There’s the technology that you might be building – which to most people is completely invisible. This is complex stuff, most people don’t understand it yet, and the majority of what you create while you’re developing is unseen. So how do you communicate the value of that? Explaining how it works — that is critical to your success. We always look for people who can be client facing.
We reject the old idea of just gathering a bunch of engineers and throwing them in a dark corner, they’ll code away with their headphones on and the clients never had to talk to them.
It should be exactly the opposite.
You should be comfortable having that conversation because you’re the authority. You understand the technology you’re working on it, you’re building it, you create it, you know the quirks of the platform that you’re working through. That is invaluable information, insight to your team, and to the client. And so, knowing that you have that opportunity and that ability is a huge asset.
So, to bring it all together, finding the culture fit is important. A place where you feel that you’re supported and your talents are embraced and you can be pushed to be better. I think that is always something that we strive for at Emerge. I’m extremely proud of our incredible team — all self starters, who push themselves to exceed expectations. I feel very fortunate to have that opportunity.
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Thank you to the Tech Academy for hosting Emerge Interactive at your Tech Talk!
The Tech Academy is a licensed career school located in Portland, Oregon where students learn to code. During their coding classes on the Software Developer Boot Camp, students study computer programming and web development. The curriculum is available online, so the course can be studied from anywhere in the world. Students can take the program in classrooms located in downtown Portland or online from anywhere on the planet – The Tech Academy has local students in Portland and remote students that study from home across the United States, in Europe, etc.
Learn more: https://www.learncodinganywhere.com