Interested in digital products? Want to get a feel for what a day in the life looks like on the Di team? You’ve come to the right place. Every quarter, we will be interviewing a member of our cohort for your reading pleasure. This time around, we are chatting with Vincent Wilson.
J: Hi there! Why don’t we start off by delving into what your role is at Differential.
V: I am a developer on the Crossroads team – I do full stack development but mostly end up working on back end stuff. Most recently I’ve been heavily on analytics integrations, so figuring out what data we need to get from our application. I guide a lot of the decision making on the back end of the app. I’ve also been working with David to help educate Differential about GraphQL and Apollo, which includes getting the team onboard with unifying what tech we use across the company so developers can move from team to team and see a consistent tech structure. Oh, and I try to design things sometimes but I’m awful at it.
J: How and when did you become interested in the kind of work you do?
V: Oh, wow. OK, so I think the earliest memory I have of programming is when I was 13 working on my algebra homework. I read something about Python somewhere and I went, “Huh – it would be a lot easier to solve these problems if I could program in Python.” The first program I coded solved my algebra homework for me. At that point I got a high off of telling computers what to do and seeing them execute those tasks. Since then I’ve always been fascinated by being able to control a computer with computer programming languages. It’s beautiful in a sense that coding is a combination of art and science – science when you instruct the computer and art when you make the code readable in such a way that it’s efficient but also easily understandable by people who read the programs after you.
J: How did your career path lead you to Differential?
V: I was working at a local Cincinnati startup for almost two years and was looking for something new and exciting. While I was at the previous company, I met someone at Differential. When I was ready for a change, I wrote him up. I talked to Tim and Colin and was immediately excited by the work at Differential and their eagerness to adopt new tech while also maintaining robust practices. Differential described themselves as leading edge versus bleeding edge, which I really liked. I was hooked and apparently did an OK job at impressing someone because I was offered a job.
J: Differential hires entrepreneurial minds to help solve the problems of intrapreneurs – what is your first memory of being entrepreneurial?
V: Oooh. Even after joining Di, I wasn’t necessarily explicitly entrepreneurial. I loved building projects for myself but they were almost always really goofy and not practical. But about a year ago, I started shopping on a website called Bid FTA and I knew a few friends who shopped there as well. What we realized quickly was that it was impossible to locate items consistently on their platform. Search tools were minimal or broken, their inventory was extremely large and the pace of inventory was fast. It was difficult to keep track of items. I put together a scraper and search engine for the Bid FTA platform for personal use. After using it for a few months, I realized that it had actual real value. I polished it up and launched it on the App Store and am currently looking into opportunities to grow it beyond Bid FTA.
J: What do you like (or love) about working here?
V: At all of the other places I’ve worked in the past, it’s been hit or miss with going into the office giving or taking away my energy. Normally I’d just work from home if I felt like it would be an energy drain. But at Di, if I’m having a rough day, it’s beneficial for me to come to the office. I absolutely love working with the people at Di. Above the tech and the projects, my favorite thing is the people I work with – their humbleness and their cheer and their ability to push through problems that seem insurmountable. You can tell people here believe employees and coworkers are #1. That’s a really cool core philosophy to see in a company.
J: Part of the Differential team is remote - in your experience, are there advantages and/or difficulties to remote teamwork?
V: Mhmm, so I’m a really distracting person. I have a tendency to distract both myself and everyone around me. So if I know I need to get a large block of non collaborative work done, it’s beneficial for me to work from home. So that’s an advantage. But I do enjoy going to the office for collaboration. I see no communication differences between working with local and remote employees. Either way, I can communicate with everyone and all of our meetings are on a video chat so I don’t have to make the choice of whether I work from home or not based on what meetings I have that day.
J: What’s streaming through your earbuds while you are working?
V: Either Radiohead or The Smiths, and always, always, always The Decemberists. Recently, some Cage the Elephant. If the day is really serene, I’ll put on some The War On Drugs but only their self titled album.
J: And last, but certainly not least - favorite coffee or lunch spot near the office?
V: Whatever I bring in my little tupperware because whatever I make at home is the best because I made it.