One of the most interesting things about the Front End Development team is how dynamic they are, individually and as a group. Getting to know this group in a team interview was exciting, as they all come from different backgrounds and initial academic interests. Music, art, medicine…all were avenues that led each of them to their preferred and current career: software development.

Jay Hoots studied and performed music before taking online coding classes and networking. “I had some really smart, cool people help me out along the way.” Kyle Plaugher studied Animal Science before realizing that he preferred software development.  “I just had to take a look and figure out what I enjoyed doing. I was always on the computer, so I figured I’d give development a try.” Sidney Collins planned to major in English and go to law school, but changed plans when a professor approached her during the web design classes she took for fun. “I said, ‘Oh, you can make money doing that?'” Sanjeev Nayak went from pre-med, to law, to mechanical engineering, to computer science before settling on Computational Media, which was closer to an art degree. “I realized that I actually had to get a job, so I spent my last year of college learning web development.” Sam Green, Aerial’s Product Designer, studied fine arts before becoming interested in product design and changing his major to computer science. “My father introduced me to CS. I grew up with computers, taking them apart and putting them back together.”

The Front End Dev team were each drawn to programming and design at Aerial for a  specific reason: they’ve always wanted the space to create. For Jay, working at a startup wasn’t a goal, but he was never opposed to it.

“I’d rather work at a company where people are actually doing something interesting, and I can add to that with my own skills and learn at the same time.”

Sidney stresses the importance of a cultural fit when looking for work. There is often a danger within most businesses of merely being a cog in a machine. “Not all startups are created equal,” she says. “I don’t like working on projects if the quality doesn’t really matter.” Like Jay, Sanjeev hasn’t exclusively looked to work at startups, but prefers the culture because of how easy it is to learn new skills. “If there’s something that needs to be done and no one’s doing it, I’ll do it. It’s possible to do that at a startup and you can learn a lot that way.” Sam focuses on the visual design, sometimes using computer software, sometimes sketching on paper, and is supported by the development team during the problem-solving process.

“There’s a lot to learn and no shortage of challenges, but the dev team continuously supports and champions one another.”

The front end development world changes constantly. Sometimes there are daily, even hourly updates. Because of this, most of the team spends time outside of work learning new coding skills and styles to stay on top of their game, but still try to set aside time for their hobbies. Jay and Kyle love to play music and video games, when parenting doesn’t take up all of their time. Kyle is also learning Korean. Sidney writes as well as cosplays, having attended DragonCon for the past ten years. Sanjeev once hoped to be a film director, but has applied his 3D animation training to designing video games instead. Sam enjoys the outdoors, as well as painting and film photography.

Although the team members come from a variety of backgrounds and have a range of interests, I find it interesting that their artistic foundations tend to motivate them in their current work. The love of their work stems from the need to create. The love of the job comes from having the space to do so.

by Chisom Awachie


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