Welcome to our continuing series of Code Project interviews in which we talk to developers about their backgrounds, projects, interests and pet peeves. In this installment we talk to Rachel Reese.
Who are you?
Hi! I’m Rachel Reese (@rachelreese, rachelree.se). After moving five times in the last 3 years, I have settled in to life in idyllic Burlington, VT, as a software engineer.
I’m working with MyWebGrocer, the largest provider of digital grocery solutions connecting consumers, grocery retailers, and CPG brands. Check out our site, I bet we handle someone near you. My team, the Plan2Gro team, covers circulars, coupons, shopping lists, recipes - everything you’d need to plan your shopping; and I personally have just begun a cleanup and rework of our recipes application. As someone who, you know, both eats and shops, jumping in and getting involved has been super easy and quite gratifying.
What do you do?
I have worked on all kinds of things. My first job out of college, I worked for a government contractor. I had 7 different versions of Netscape installed, and had to verify every single change in all of them. On the plus side, I worked on the Surgeon General’s site, as well as a couple much larger, health reference library sites, and we switched to ASP.NET as soon as it hit Beta 1.
I’ve worked on internal tools for one of Gannett’s newspapers in Arizona and for Massage Envy; on GoDaddy’s email marketing software; the user profile section of USAirways.com; Knight Trucking’s internal logistics app; and a couple different projects for MyWebGrocer already.
What is your development environment?
I began in college with basic HTML, Linux & C; my first job was Classic ASP, which quickly morphed into ASP.NET Beta 1.
I’ve spent most of my programming life working in ASP.NET C#, but I’ve got to delve into random side topics, like DB2 & RPG, Oracle Reporting, and SSRS.
For hardware, I bought a Mac about a year ago, set up Bootcamp, and upgraded to a 512 SSD hard drive. Love it.
F#! I’ve been playing with functional programming (mostly F#) for about a year. Since my first love was math, functional programming just makes a lot of sense.
I even recently started a functional user group in the Burlington, VT area just to connect with the other folks here, and learn more. I’ve been following along with a couple of the Coursera classes (currently Quantum Computing!) but I haven’t found the free time to properly finish one just yet.
What is your coding pet peeve?
Maybe not a coding pet peeve so much, but if you see me at a conference, please don’t ask me whose girlfriend I am.
How did you get started programming?
My first computer was a second-hand Apple IIc. I spent hours on that thing as a kid. We even had a 28k modem! We never ended up replacing it, so as I grew up, I just sort of used it less.
In the meantime, I had fallen pretty hard for math. When I went to college, I jumped right in, and declared a dual math & physics major my first semester. By the summer after my freshman year, I had an internship with the Super-K project (neutrino oscillation, anyone?).
My first day on the job, one of the post-docs sat me down with A Book on C, and announced that I had to learn to program first. To this day, this was one of my favorite jobs. I had about 15 grad students, post-docs, assistant professors, and professors who walked me through every chapter of that book. I stuck with the math & physics majors to graduate, but left school with a good grasp of code, and ended up employed as a software dev before I knew it.
I could spend hours gushing about the community. I have always been involved in some sort of community. In college, I helped start the Math club, and was an officer in the Physics group.
While I was at my first job, I sought out user groups, and forums (I briefly created a .NET user group in Maryland, before I moved to Phoenix), and it was through these experiences that I met the .NET greater community. I keep in touch mostly through Twitter these days (very active there), as well as attending every conference and code camp that I can reasonably get to.
Having an active network is huge, and I couldn’t live without ’em. I’ve also just started using Github. I’ve had an account for awhile, but mostly used it privately for source control. Displaying your code to the world is daunting!
What advice would you offer to an up-and-coming programmer?
How about three pieces?
Do what you love, don’t compromise, and learn as much as you can about everything. You never know when some seemingly esoteric bit of knowledge will save the day.