We know that finding the right job in tech is crucial – especially to junior developers. Finding a job a gaining experience take time, and we wanted to give our tech community an inside look at a major tech employer in Savannah, SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). David Feld is the Senior Director of Interactive Operations at SCAD and he answered some of TechSAV’s questions about SCAD’s tech team, how they do things, the problems that they solve and advice. Read the interview below:
TechSAV: What are you looking for in a junior developer?
David Feld: Solid webdev fundamentals, a strong desire to learn, enthusiasm and a steady confidence when tackling new things. The rest is teachable.
TechSAV: What’s the team dynamic like at SCAD in your own team and between teams?
David Feld: I’m very proud of my Interactive Services co-workers. We’re a close-knit crew. We help each other out, share things we learn and are respectful. We have team leaders and degrees of seniority, but the day-to-day dynamic is relatively flat and collaborative. Everyone is approachable. Unlike so many other places I’ve worked, there’s no silo-ism. Some of that comes from our physical situation — the developers, designers and content managers all work in one open space — but mostly it’s because my co-workers are hard-working and generous with each other.
TechSAV: What does your tech stack look like?
David Feld: It’s evolving. We’ve worked with a traditional LAMP stack for a long time, but we’re migrating all our initiatives to a decoupled environment with a centralized CMS (Drupal) feeding content to a diverse range of platforms. For websites, the goal is to have the freedom to choose the right front end for each job, rather than forcing everything into an inflexible monolithic structure. So far, we’ve been gravitating toward React and Symfony for new and migrated initiatives.
TechSAV: What hard problems are you trying to solve?
David Feld: Our purview includes several dozen websites, as well as iOS and Android apps, digital signage, interactive kiosks, augmented reality, virtual reality, email marketing, social media, text messaging, and a variety of third-party services. We’re constantly building new things, so the challenge is to sustain and evolve the entire portfolio as we simultaneously tackle the Next Big Thing.
TechSAV: How can the local tech community help?
David Feld: Junior developers need mentors — not just to teach them how to code, but to help them learn professionalism, organization, soft skills, ethics and why it’s critically important to never stop learning.
TechSAV: Any other advice or thoughts you would like to give junior developers who are starting out?
- Code, code and code some more. If you have limited professional experience, help out on an open source project. Volunteer to code for a local non-profit website. Code personal projects. Code for your friend’s band’s website. Code an app about your cat. And put it all up on Github or Gitlab where hiring managers can see it.
- Don’t specialize too soon. Learn as much as you can about front-end, back-end and mobile development before making a decision to focus on one area.
- Don’t be a framework/language zealot. Today’s hotness is tomorrow’s punchline and being inflexible makes you a jerk.
- Your value to an organization goes beyond your ability to code. You need to know how to contribute in a team environment, collaborate, be flexible, be organized and communicate effectively. Always be courteous.
David Feld is senior director of interactive operations at SCAD. He has more than 20 years experience in online product development and journalism.