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Interview with Featured Junior Developer, Tyler Brown 500 500 Jr.DevJobs Hunter Meyer Co-Founder & CEO Twitter LinkedIn CrunchBase Facebook Jr.DevJobs 2024 07/2015 en-US true Tyler Brown, Junior, Featured, Developers, Interview
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Tyler Brown

Featured Interview
Tell me a little about your life before attending Epicodus?

Before attending Epicodus, I had worked as a Bartender for multiple restaurants. I absolutely loved the communal / teamwork-promoting environment, and that translated beautifully into my career in Software Development.

What made you decide to learn to code?

I had always been infatuated with technology and how everything about it works. I had been building my own computers since I was 11, and tinkering with Myspace HTML / CSS since I knew what it actually was. After working in restaurants for 7 years, my friends all started to come out of college with CS degrees or starting their own development contracting companies. I eventually asked enough questions to annoy them into telling me more about actual software development, looked into formal education, and stumbled upon Epicodus!

What was the most challenging and rewarding aspect of learning to code?

Every day I get down to writing code, where I consistently learn every day, is the most challenging aspect of this career field, and thus the most beautiful. Coding is problem solving at it's most basic (in an albeit complicated manner), and I believe that all levels of successful software developers have an inherent primal drive to problem solve. The most rewarding aspect of learning to code is the knowledge that you completed something which is known to be astronomically difficult. It is absolutely true that anyone can learn to code, but it takes incredibly hard work and a dedication not known to most folks. Every day you stick with it is the most rewarding, because it is the most challenging day you'll face.

What is most memorable about your time at Epicodus?

The most memorable moments to me while going through bootcamp were the days with the most difficult workload. My pair programming partner and I would have our head in our hands, hair frazzled, and completely out of ideas, when we'd look around and see the entirety of the class in the same state. It was a comforting sight to see the rest of the class struggling as hard as us. The communal struggle through the difficulty of the course work lead to an unparalleled camaraderie.

Who has influenced you in your journey as a junior developer?

Aaron Swartz and Hampton Catlin both are my absolute heroes. Not only in how incredibly influential they were/are in the overall programming landscape, but how diligent they were/are with their activism. I use both Markdown and Sass on a daily basis, so their personal influence is felt in my career every day. Their political influence is still felt as well, with the freedom of knowledge and technology still a pressing matter today from Aaron, and with Gay Marriage just recently being federally legalized with the help of activists like Hampton.

Someone I have personally met that has influenced and really impressed me is Randall Hansen. He gave a talk at Epicodus regarding UX (User Experience Design), and his incredible depth of knowledge on the subject was flooring. He went into the history of impossibly small and subtle psychological things that please users, down to something so incredibly subtle like padding in text input boxes that I had always just accepted as a granted! He's a very intelligent developer, and if you can ever catch him giving a talk, I strongly suggest you attend.

What was the job hunt like? Can you share any tips for our readers?

The job hunt after Epicodus was absolutely nerve-wracking. No matter who you are, and whether you're a bootcamp graduate or a CS student, being released into the wild to prove yourself in a technical / production position is one of the most scary things you'll experience. The trick to that fear is to embrace it! Let it drive you to succeed and work hard rather than letting it loom over and intimidate you.

Another good tip I can give is talk to everyone. It doesn't matter if the company you're speaking to at a job fair is a website dedicated to hating kittens, talk to them. The experience of talking with others that are looking for technical employees will train you to further hone your interview skills. It's also beneficial to talk to employers who you find out that you don't want to work with, because that further defines what you do want out of your career!

That is great advice! Can you tell us about your first job as a developer?

I am currently working at Unigo Group as a Front End and Design Developer. It is a free online college resource used by college students to share info about their school and to find scholarships applicable to them. It is an absolutely fantastic place to start out my career, and I hope to stay here for a while.

I am a bit of a workaholic when it comes to my career, and Unigo perfectly caters to that by giving you as much work as you ask for. What's even more incredible is that, if they feel you are ambitious enough, they will give you projects in languages / environments that you are completely unfamiliar with. I am trying to be the best Junior Developer I can be, so I am currently trying to learn C# and ASP.NET MVC to be a more robust and thorough developer. C# is known as a very difficult high-level programming language, thus will take me a long time to even write "good" code. But, because of their greatly supportive environment and the surrounding Senior Developers that give me code reviews, I am on the fast track to understanding something so difficult.

What kind of projects do you work on at Unigo?

Right now I am working on a lightweight but customizable Javascript / jQuery plugin that will be a loan refinancing calculator. Like all products, this came about through necessity. I was in need of a robust yet customizable calculator that could even be possibly tooled for percentages. I may not have the most refined Google-fu in the world, but from my experience that type of calculator doesn't fully exist as a plugin yet. It should be done within a week or two, and I'm incredibly excited for my employers to utilize it in their Student Loan Refinancing program!

Lastly, what is your best advice to those just starting out as Junior Developers?

Immerse yourself in software development. And not just with actual development, too! Meetups are free, and they are absolutely great for not only networking with other developers of all skill levels, but some of them have fantastic insight and knowledge on certain technologies. They'll also give you early direction to awesome conferences too like EmberConf or Ruby on Ales, and highly productive startup weekends.

Another thing that wasn't emphasized much but is incredibly helpful is reading! In an age and career field so dominated by technology, reading a book on programming seems insanely counter-intuitive and dated, but it probably was one of the most dense educational endeavors that I embarked on outside of Epicodus. My personal favorite (because I love scripting languages in general) is the widely-renowned JavaScript: The Good Parts. Realistically, anything by O'Reilly is fantastic, but this book is especially great because it focuses on the productive and well-designed parts of a language that we all will use for the rest of our career, regardless of direction or path.