Get to Know Jake

Jake always had a passion for tech, whether that be playing video games or building computers, but started out his career as a therapist, then a visual and video production engineer for live music, touring with bands, before he transitioned to programming and finding his place here at Bixly.

Full Transcript Below:

Jake:

After working as a therapist for a while, I started touring with bands doing their live video shows.

Cris:

What’s your background, how’d you get in tech?

Jake:

It’s been kind of a long, strange journey. Also, I fell in love with Django. I love it as a framework. I love using Python.

Cris:

I know that there’s lots of people out there that are vying for top talent such as yourself, so what brought you to Bixly?

Cris:

Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Meet the Team here at Bixly. We have Jake joining us up today. Jake, where are you hailing from today because you were not in office?

Jake:

No, I’m all the way out here on the opposite side of the United States. I’m in Portland, Maine.

Cris:

Very nice. Very nice. So what brings you from Portland, Maine to Bixly? What’s your background, how’d you get in tech and what even got you into this space? Not even with Bixly, but just tech in general.

Jake:

Yeah, it’s been kind of a long, strange journey. I started out my career working as a therapist, and did that for quite a while in Denver, Colorado, and a little bit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as well. But tech’s always been a big part of my life. I’ve always been a big video gamer. I’ve messed around with computers a ton when I was really young, but never really pursued that as a career until I… After working as a therapist for a while, I started touring with bands doing their live video shows. And so for that, I was doing a lot of video editing. And then also for the live aspect of that was a lot of mixing analog equipment with digital equipment to just figure out exactly how it could make a very unique show. And in doing that, came across a lot of the tools that I would use would be open source software that I knew that you could program your own patches and everything to make the visuals that you had in your head.

Jake:

But that was… It seemed out of reach for a while until I really just started. And that got me interested in digging into programming and figuring out how that I can make my own things on a computer, whether that be visuals or my own web applications, whatever that might be. So that led me into joining a group online with an instructor who we just would meet six days a week, actually just going over programming concepts, whether that’s problem solving or specific array methods, things like that, or just talking about what it means to be a really good programmer and sharing that with people that were already in the industry and students like myself at the time were just getting into it. I think that’s really what led me to Bixly, was kind of just really digging into programming in that way. So yeah.

Cris:

Very cool. So when you’re doing these visuals and stuff back to the kind of the video, what were you programming that in? I mean, because obviously here at Bixly, you’re doing Python, Django doing some react stuff, but what were you programming for the actual visuals?

Jake:

Yeah. So I was using at the time Magic Music Visuals was the open source software. And while I didn’t need a lot of like programming skills for that, that was mostly just kind of setting up all the settings. And that was more on the hardware side was connecting that to different devices and figuring out how to make that work with analog equipment. But then that was done in a lot of different… I’d never really ended up digging into that. And that’s where one of the things I did a little bit of processing, which is Java based and that’s where, when I started messing around with processing, I said, “I feel like this is kind of a very surface level programming language.” And really wanted to dig into and that’s where I got into JavaScript and Python and a little bit of C and things like that. So yeah, it was more processing, but I always felt I could do a lot more with that. So yeah.

Cris:

So you’re dealing with hardware, doing the video visualization stuff, you start doing the coding kind of bootcamps and then it sounds like the cohort and so on and so forth. Now you’re out there and you’re looking for opportunities. What brought you to Bixly specifically? I know that there’s lots of people out there that are vying for top talent such as yourself. So what brought you to Bixly?

Jake:

The culture was the biggest thing. I did a lot of research into everywhere that I looked to pursue my new career and Bixly really stood out. It seemed like a very fun place to work. It seemed really collaborative from everybody that I talked to, from the videos that I watched and just everything that I read was it’s a really collaborative team. And I like to… I work a lot on my own, but it’s really nice to have a team around me that I can share my knowledge and that they can share theirs. And then also I fell in love with Django. I love it as a framework, I loved using Python. I learned most of my programming skills in Java Script, but then as soon as I touched by thought, I was like, “I feel like this is where I belong.” And at the time you guys were looking for a Django slash Python specialist. And I said, that’s, I want that.

Jake:

But at the same time, again, doing my research into Bixly, I knew that I would have a lot of opportunity to expand my skills in front-end languages and working with even CSS and HTML, digging more into Django and Python. It’s something new every day. And I feel very supported when it is something that I don’t understand. I have a great team around me that helps me. And also just the support to say, “Let’s figure this out. I know that you can do it might take a little bit, but let’s just get this done.” And that’s what keeps me excited about work every day is the possibility that there might be something completely new that I get to learn. And that was evident from the first time that I met anybody at Bixly so.

Cris:

Very cool. Obviously, as an agency here, we work with lots of different projects. There’s always new emergent technologies. What, for you, kind of makes you excited in the tech space right now? Is it some new language that you’re looking into? Is it a particular tech stack? What exactly excites you, Jake? What are you excited for in tech right now?

Jake:

A lot Of things that… Like I mentioned before, it excites me that tech is always growing and always changing and so I get to learn something new all the time and that’s just, it keeps things from getting stale and excites me a lot. Specifically, I’ve had my eye on VR for quite a while. Working as a therapist, I always wanted to incorporate VR into my therapy practice doing visuals. I was like, “There’s just endless opportunities for VR in that field.” And then just playing silly games with my friends. I’ve spent a lot of time just experimenting with different VR games and just VR capacities. And I would love to really dig into that field. I think it’s exciting. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It’s just getting better and better as we go here. And I feel like it’s in its infancy. So I really hope to just grow with that. So yeah.

Cris:

Totally. I mean, we’ve even seen over the last few years, more of an interest with clients coming in, wanting to talk about more visualization, augmented reality type stuff, and allowing what computers do best and what artificial intelligence does best to kind of start taking over some pieces of the project and allowing for more of that to be integrated and less having to have a human, obviously do all this decision making. So it’s definitely changing. It’s definitely growing and there’s so much both on the business side, but also on the entertainment side that I am definitely excited about. Outside of coding, virtual reality, all of this kind of stuff. What else do you find yourself doing when you’re not in front of a computer terminal? What kind of makes you tick? What are you passionate about?

Jake:

Yeah. Outside of like the visuals, I mean, visuals, I just, I tinker around with those as much as possible, but then again, yes, I do need to tear myself away from a screen sometimes. And I did move to Maine from Colorado where I did a lot of hiking and I have always enjoyed that a ton. So it’s been… There’s a lot of… It’s a very different landscape out here and it’s really fun to get out and do camping and hiking and even swimming now that I’m near the ocean for the first time in my life. So it’s getting out into the nature of Maine and New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, this whole area. It’s a beautiful area and there’s endless opportunity to just get out into nature there. And I think that is important to kind of spend my weekends away from computer and just refresh myself. So yeah.

Cris:

Very cool. So how far are you from a beach right now?

Jake:

I’m about a two to three minute walk from the bay, but I wouldn’t go swimming there. So it would be maybe a five to 10 minute drive out to the closest beach. We just found a beautiful beach just outside of Portland last weekend, actually that we want to explore because it’s got a lot of trails and then a beautiful beach and that’s 15 minutes away. So yeah, coming from Colorado and Wisconsin never really been this close to the ocean and it’s exciting. So yeah.

Cris:

That’s very cool. And it’s been fun obviously over the years as a company, we’ve been able to do more remote based work and allow people that are even looking to travel for some extended amount of time and kind of get that respite that you need from again, being in front of a computer monitor, it actually happens. So it’s great to have people like yourself, Jake, that obviously a part of our team, but actually co located somewhere else. So appreciate it. I think hopefully this gave everyone a real glimpse into who you are, what makes you tick and obviously why you’re such a great asset to Bixly. So I appreciate your time, Jake and I look forward to whatever the next bit of a business venture that comes our way and an area of opportunity where we can stretch your development skills and help you grow. Cool.

Jake:

Yeah. Thank you. It’s been great. I love the whole team and meeting everybody, so yeah. Thank you.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Meet the Bixly Team. And I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jake a little bit better. One of our backend specialists, who’s continuing to grow his skills in the front end as well. And don’t forget to check out the special links that we have for you in the description down below. You can find a link to our free custom software guide, which will walk you through the steps of getting through planning your own custom app idea, whether that be for web or mobile or both, whatever your solution might look like. You can also check out our website, bixly.com. And at the very top of our website, there’s a button that says validate your app idea. If you click that, you can schedule a free meeting with Cris, 60 minutes, to talk about your app idea and we’ll point you in the right direction. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.