Daylight News

An interview with Daylight’s Epicodus interns

There often comes a time in one’s professional career when you need to make a change. Whether a setback or an opportunity, changing your professional path might require learning new skills and when that happens, and your calling comes with the requirement of building your coding chops, Epicodus is there to help. Daylight is excited to welcome two interns over the next weeks from Epicodus – Benjamin Seaver and David Quisenberry (seen above left to right). They’ll be working on some exciting projects while they’re here, so we wanted to take a minute to share their stories about joining Epicodus and what inspires them. But first…

What is Epicodus?

Since its first class of eight students in 2013, Epicodus has been helping people gain the critical programming skills and confidence to get ahead in today’s job marketplace. The vocational school founded by Michael Kaiser-Nyman offers full-time courses in a variety of programming languages, career preparation and concludes with a five-week internship. In total students receive 800 hours of classroom time, 80 hours of career guidance and 150 hours of internship learning. This year, Daylight welcomed David and Benjamin from the 2017 class. Here is their interview.

What was your experience before joining the Epicodus program?
David: Professionally, I had a career as a financial advisor. I helped individuals and families with their investments, financial planning, and wealth management. I was active in the Portland community serving in leadership roles on the boards of The Dougy Center, a nonprofit which helps children and their families have community support after losing a loved one, and City Club of Portland, which engages the Portland community in volunteer-driven public policy research and civic events.

I had some coding experience with HTML, C, and Pascal in high school, Java, and C++ in college, and a year of self-learning in Python and Java right before Epicodus started.

Benjamin: I had a career in software development where my last position lasted 20 years writing and customizing what is still the top rated software in Anatomic Pathology – Cerner CoPathPlus.  Besides writing robust code that runs for years, I’m especially proud of being a father and providing for children. They are now independent. I served as a volunteer Firefighter / EMT for nine years in a rural community. My EMT certification is still valid, and my Firefighter certification does not expire. I certified in Massage Therapy. I introduced sailing to the general public at Community Boating in Boston. I also trained and served as a volunteer mediator. I did all of the above while maintaining a rating of “Highly Valued” as a full-time senior software engineer.

How did you end up joining the program, what prompted a change to that professional trajectory?

David: In 2016 after about ten years in the financial service industry, I knew I wanted to transition into development work. I had been teaching my daughters and their friends how to build and program Lego Mindstorm robots and make video games using Unity3D and found myself wanting to create more and more. I started teaching myself in my free time how to code and realized if I ever was going to make a career of it and have coding be more than a hobby I would need to get substantially more projects under my belt and grow my programming fundamentals. After looking at a number of the programs, Epicodus stood out because of their project-based curriculum, pair-programming and mentorship components.

Benjamin: I am eager to work with current web and software development technology.  Epicodus has an elegant education design, where students primarily learn by pair programming on projects four days a week. The internship is part of the educational plan and the total cost for six months is very affordable.

What are you excited to learn from Epicodus?

David: I love learning new languages, so I was excited to get my hands on PHP and javascript.  Modern development is a lot different than the coding I grew up on in the late 90’s. It was great to get lots of hands on experience with git commands, testing, MVC’s, templating, build runners, etc. I also enjoyed the opportunity to pair program and learn how to talk about code.

Benjamin: I am excited to learn and follow collaborative development workflows that involve Git, the experience of doing a variety of coding challenges in JavaScript and PHP, introductions to some JavaScript front end technologies like Angular2 and Ember and backend technologies like Silex, testing technology like PHPUnit and templating like Twig. Frankly, I have found PHP and Twig quite satisfying!

What are you excited about working on during your time with Daylight?
David: There are two main projects I’m focused on at Daylight. The first was a side project using an open-source content management system (CMS) called Google Drive CMS which was in an early stage of development. Ben and I worked on making the CMS more robust for how Daylight thought it might be useful in creating simple websites and internal tracking. With Drive CMS (a.k.a. project codename “Ichabod”) a user can create the information for a site using Google sheets, tabs, and docs. The CMS is headless which means you can code up your front-end with whatever tools you feel best can accomplish the job. With our side project, I took the opportunity to learn Vue.js for one version of the front-end.

The second project I’ve been working on is hacking our foosball table using Arduino. Currently, I am wiring buttons, a wifi shield, and a RFID reader to allow Daylighters to log in and track their foosball playing. The end goal is to have a website showing the current game in progress and bring in stats of teams and players from previous games. Maybe you’ll be able to see it at foos.bydaylight.com if I’m lucky. 

A person is working on a foosball table

Benjamin: Extending Google Drive CMS has been a fantastic project. The utility of this for small and prototype websites is very exciting. It also looks like it could be adapted to streamline Daylight’s collaboration with clients. It is also a blast to tackle the PHP / Silex / Twig side to consume the data output from Google Drive CMS. This is promising for providing rich functionality with very little code. I can see reusing the Twig templates and migrating data when the customer is ready to move to an industrial strength CMS like FUEL CMS or Craft CMS.

What are your goals after Epicodus?

David:

  • Keep learning (JS frameworks, Continuous Deployment, DevOps/Containerization,  Security)
  • Deepen my stack (right now I have breadth)
  • Maintain youthful exuberance and love of learning
  • Continue to find and cultivate mentorship opportunities
  • Create and deliver talks at meetups (getting your first dev job, job hunt as online dating, leveraging social media, etc.)
  • And find the unicorn of a junior level developer job :)

Benjamin: My goal is to contribute to new products and services as a software developer. I look forward to the collegiality of the workplace and the twin satisfactions of doing valued work and covering new territory.

On the lighter side, tell us a little about yourselves

David: I’m a spy nerd. I love reading spy novels, books on tradecraft, history of intelligence figures and operations. I have a video game work-in-progress called Case Officer I’m building in Unity and Fungus where you the player are tasked with collection requirements from HQ and must create and maintain a network of agents to accomplish these demands. The purpose of the gameplay is to expose kids / young adults to the intel collection process and the moral decisions of human intelligence gathering.

Benjamin: I love to walk the trails around my home, smell the flowers and cool forest air with my wife Cindy and our dog Jaxon. I also very much enjoy driving the safety boat at the Willamette Sailing Club and am looking forward to tearing around the Willamette River on Lasers on hot summer evenings. Finally, almost any time celebrating the day with a local West Coast style IPA.

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