Hey, John 👋 Nice to meet you! Do you want to give a quick introduction to yourself and your role at Crisp?

Hi 🙂 I’ve worked in electronics / software engineering for around 25 years and I joined Crisp’s Engineering team as a Software Engineer in late 2019. The nature of Crisp’s business and associated social media platforms means the products we build and maintain must constantly adapt to changes in technology, scale and the how social media platforms are used (and abused).

In the Engineering team we build new products and features that extract, analyse and filter content from social media platforms and present potentially problematic content to our analysts. Delivering these features presents our talented Engineering team with some unique engineering challenges!

How did you find moving from a junior level to becoming a senior dev? From both a personal and professional perspective.

It’s challenging and there’s a lot to learn but I have found that this continues throughout your career. As a junior it can be frustrating to come up against problems that are apparently either insurmountable or take enormous efforts to overcome - this can be more acute if you are working in very small teams, or alone. The best suggestion I can give is to find a bright and energetic team or community that works on interesting products - you will learn a lot very quickly!

Do you have any standout tips/tricks to help those looking to take the next step in their career ladder? 

Remember you are generally creating a product for end users. It’s good to geek out with technology and build your knowledge but it’s very important to understand what the products you are building can and should deliver for your users. This will give you a proper perspective on where you (and the team around you) should focus your efforts.

Do you think a degree is necessary to become a developer nowadays? Would you still choose the route of university if you were starting your journey into tech now?

It’s definitely not necessary but some degree course topics that may not be immediately obvious when learning software development are generally valuable (e.g. technical topics like managing concurrency and distributed systems and ‘soft’ aspects such as ethics in engineering). I personally took software engineering modules with The Open University while working in the electronics sector. If I was starting again and had the luxury of committing to full time education I would take a full time software engineering degree but otherwise I would still pursue the same career with part time learning and gaining practical experience with contributions to open source projects.

What are some key pieces of advice you would give to anyone looking to become a developer, whether they’re a teenager or a career switcher later in life?

I always consider myself lucky to have chosen a career that allows for a lot of creativity. You can build ‘things’ with few raw materials - generally just needing a few tools: a computer and some freely available development software. Whenever learning, I would always recommend practising what you are learning - whether writing a few lines of code that prints a result or building a modest application or web site.

Even after working in this sector for a couple of decades, I still find the best (and most fun) way to build my confidence with a new technology or technique is to try it out for myself.

How does Crisp support you in your role to bring the best version of yourself every day?

The nature of the problems we solve at Crisp are novel and often technically challenging. 

This in itself makes for interesting technical challenges and Crisp supports its Engineers in material ways (e.g. excellent physical environment, the tools to do your job, flexible working etc) but the most important aspects for me are:

  1. The fostering of an open and inclusive team culture
  2. The quality of the individuals on the team

This allows the teams to use their ingenuity and creativity in building the solutions the business needs.

If you like the sound of Crisp and their core values, check out their open opportunities on Haystack.

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