Software Engineer Profile — Kyle Willard
You know I think that the human element tends to be missing from hiring at times, and I think a real introduction and background could be a good thing! Something to point to besides lines of code. I have done some profiles for a couple of my friends whom I have worked with, or learned with, and I wanted to take a minute to talk about me.
First and foremost I love the image above. I spent tons of time on that pier and beach during my two years in Las Angeles, and miss that beach pretty intensely. It was usually pretty empty for the most part, and had a chill, relaxing vibe to it. Hot sand, cool water, and awesome food just down the street. The only complaint? Good lord the parking, and traffic was a nightmare!
My name is Kyle Willard, and I have been a software engineer on my own since 2006 if we count WordPress and static HTML/CSS sites. I have produced a number of sites for friends, and family, and a couple that were production level for small businesses. I was the Assistant Project manager for BioContractors, and influenced the website for the program that I oversaw. https://dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/rethinkla/rethink/
As an assistant project manager I did more on the event coordination, and on site management at that time. I will also be clear that I had no access, or control of the codebase for this site. The site was just a piece of a very large pie that was my job description. It was one of my favorite job, and I worked for one of the most impactful people in my adult life. I was given responsibility, and taught how to leverage it to ensure that things got done rapidly, but effectively. I took that mindset to every job after regardless how large, or how small my sphere of responsibility was.
I spent a ton of time in sales in both Wireless Sales with a (formerly) Sprint Premium Retailer called Wireless Lifestyle, I was both a sales rep & a multi location Team Lead (manager) for OSL, and I also spent a number of years working for 2 different car dealerships. Honestly, I have to say that working at the car dealerships was beyond challenging, but really was some of the most fun that I had at a job.
I tended to be the point person for the used car dealership that I worked for, South Commercial Auto Sales, and worked with our site vendor CarsForSale.com to create the current iteration of their website. Again I was a translator between the needs of our company, and the vendor who coded the site, I was not the engineer on it. It was a ton of fun to do, and was actually a part of why I started to delve back into HTML/CSS going forward. https://www.southcommercialauto.net/
From there I ended up being one of two people to transform the face of the Oregon Vehicle Dealer Association website, and was the primary dealer facing administrator for right around 2 years. This website was the first major project that I had worked on, and while I was the front end person working on theming, pages, and content management, and ended up being the WordPress administrator for the time that I was there (and some after as a freelancer) I was not the engineer generating custom code for this site. You see I did a ton of the planning, design, and content management up until 2020 when I really started diving into programming languages. http://www.ordealers.net/
I was also a part of creating, and building a new curriculum, and worked with our government regulators to get, and keep our ability to teach continuing education, and licensed forms to our member dealers. It was a ton of work, but it was a great job working for amazing people who I still stay in contact with today.
That, in my opinion, was a different life. May of 2020 I had to make some life and career altering decisions, it was a crazy time for everyone, but I certainly hit a wall, and had to find a different path. That path was software engineering. Which initially I started to dive into with the intent of being a front end designer, but quickly realizing that there was so many amazing facets to the software engineering world that I just kept exploring. I think for me that is the highlight of this adventure. Time and again I keep finding things to learn, and explore. I decided that it might be wise to leverage the support and accountability that you would find in a more school system than being self taught.
Now I need to take a moment to address the fact that I have been highly, and outspokenly critical in regards to the school, and as someone who has done hiring I am aware that it can be a bit of a bad look. Here is the truth, LS is far different in the span of just a few months, and not in a good way. There are drastic, impactfully negative changes that have degraded both the integrity of the program, as well as the quality of life for the students, and as someone who firmly believes in leaving something better than you got it I have said something. What has not been really seen is the fact that I have addressed the issues directly with the school, with more recommendations than criticisms repeatedly, but after those have fallen on deaf ears, and watching so many people drop from the program, or redo portions of the program based upon the issues that could simply, quickly, and cheaply be addressed I finally reached out publicly to make it clearer that students (customers) need validation when there are issues. I am simply saying the quiet part out loud.
In truth in a work setting I am religious about using proper channels, and adhering to corporate structure, and culture. From my time in sales I was exposed to how critical culture really was. We are cogs in the machine, and it is critical to work in team environments 99% of the time, and when you do sometimes you need to be the person to step in to carry the load when others have problems, be it in a work setting, or a personal setting. We all go through things, to me working a few 90 hour weeks to ensure that things get done will be worthwhile in the long run. I would prefer not doing that as a norm, but sometimes you have to step into the suck.
What I like:
React.js & Redux — I love React. Facebook, and contributors have done such an amazing job with this library I cannot say enough good things. The idea of using HTML elements mixed with JS really changed the game. I remember the first time I touched react. It was mind-blowing. As cheesy as that sounds it was like opening the door to Narnia. Here was a whole different world to explore. Then adding a bit of spice with redux really got me going. My excitement level was pretty high at that point.
Sass/Material-UI/Styled Components — These are a few of my favorite UI libraries (CSS Pre-processor) to run. Material really made my day with the ability to rapidly add, and modify UI elements in such a clean, and effective way. Sass & Styled Components kind of changed things as well being able to use global variables, nesting, and mixins were certainly awesome.
Express/Node — Node is such a crazy thing. The mindset, and creativity that created the ability to use JS in the backend really changed the game. Ryan Dahl really reinvented the wheel with this one, but in such an awesome way. Then the humbleness to realize the mistakes, and go on to rebuild node into Deno! Ignore my moment of being a bit of a fanboy on this on.
Regardless I love Express and Node, and have dozens, if not hundreds of projects on my hard drive over the course of learning them.
MongoDB/Postgres — Now Databases are a bit hard for me, not because I do not understand them, but more the level of respect I have for relational databases vs non-relational databases. I really, really love using the entire MERN stack, but Postgres is certainly gaining my respect and admiration for being awesome.
TypeScript — If you thought that I went full fanboy with Node, let me tell you, and let others tell you how much I love using TS! This was such a huge game changer for me. The mindset of flipping the JS world on its head and typing it. The thousands of errors over my time using it that it has caught and prevented is nuts.
GraphQL/Apollo(Server & Client) — For me GQL was a bit of a gamechanger. I love GraphQL because it really just keeps things so clean, and organized, and makes the use of multiple APIs just that much easier.
There is obviously so much more, but I think we should talk about some soft skills.
I thrive in a team work setting, being able to rely on others, and them being able to rely on me. The ability to leverage a number of peoples backgrounds, and skillsets really creates new and innovative ways of doing things.
I understand, and have been working within timelines for a long while, and have a number of different ways that I keep myself, and my time organized, and efficient. Adapting to new ways of doing this is pretty simple at this point.
People. This seems like a pretty easy one. I worked customer facing positions for basically all of my adult life (and into my early teens), and have no issue working with basically anyone.
Work Ethic. This is a huge one for me. I have been working since I was 12 years old (Summers, with my dad). I have worked in car sales, which means if you want a paycheck 40+ is automatic (try 60+ if I am honest).
Lets end this with the obvious:
Thank you for the time, and I hope to hear from you soon!