Tech Talent: This DigitalCrafts Grad Is Building a Social Network For Your Dog

Gerrit Van Leeuwen

Gerrit Van Leeuwen graduated from DigitalCrafts’ Full Stack Immersive Web Development on July 23. While his educational background was outside computer science (he holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa), he did have experience with programming just after college, having written Windows batch scripts while employed by Iowa Public Radio to automate broadcast engineering processes. 

Gerrit Van LeeuwenLeeuwen’s path to becoming a developer connects to culture. Calling himself “a curious person by nature,” he says he’s genuinely fascinated by machines humans interface with daily. He also loves to talk tech.

“There is no greater feeling than sharing what I recently learned with someone else and seeing their face light up when they grasp the concept,” he says. “Obtaining knowledge that allows me to solve a bug and then helping someone else understand the same coding problem are adrenaline rushes that keep me coming back to my code editor even after the longest of days.”

Find out more about why you should consider hiring Leeuwen, how he approaches the work of coding, and read about the social network for dogs he’s building below.


What startup/tech projects have you worked on?

At DigitalCrafts, I have worked on a range of projects with other coders in a remote, Agile development environment including a chat application and a customizable user dashboard.  For our capstone project, my team and I are building an app called SocialHound that we are branding “The social network for your pup.” The app will allow dog owners to connect, schedule playdates with compatible companions for their dogs, find dog walkers and sitters, and more. 


What tech/tools are essential to you as a developer?

Pair-programming has been an essential tool for me in this course.  Working with other coders has allowed me to learn how others approach problem-solving and think about code. I’ve picked up so many tips and tricks from classmates and we’ve learned from one another’s mistakes. Additionally, pair-programming requires that I explain my own code to someone else, which helps me to critically think about my code, and determine if a more elegant and less complex solution exists (which it always does). 


How do you stay informed & on-top of emerging trends?

I love podcasts such as Syntax, Shop Talk, and Base CS.  Podcasts are a great way to gain insight into the minds of some fantastic coders and tech enthusiasts and see how they view the world of development. and Medium are great resources for articles and blog posts, and I have filled my Twitter feed with the tweets of awesome developers who are always ready to share information about new technologies and offer opinions on emerging trends.

Gerrit Van Leeuwen


What are your best technical or creative skills?

Because I don’t have a formal Computer Science background, I am constantly striving to learn more about the science behind the technologies we use and understand the why as much as the how. Learning to think like a computer allows me to visualize the flow of data through a program, which helps when I’m writing code and thinking about the best way to approach a problem.  Creatively, I consider myself to be a sponge.  Inspiration comes from many sources, and so I am always on the lookout for new ideas.  I love reading code and looking through the dev tools on my favorite websites to gain new insight for all types of solutions, whether it’s learning to build more elegant APIs and databases, or designing aesthetically pleasing UIs.


What’s next on your list to learn?

I will continue to study the React ecosystem, and I also plan on revisiting Python. We built a solid foundation in Python at the beginning of the cohort and I want to continue to grow my skills in that language. I also want to learn Java because I am fascinated by the C-family languages, and I want to learn multithreading so I have multiple solutions in my toolkit for building a backend.


Why the interest in the technology field?

I love learning and I want to spend the rest of my career in an industry where I am constantly learning and growing. I never want to become stagnant. Tech is fascinating to me because there is so much depth to it and so many avenues to pursue; the industry is constantly evolving and producing new ideas and technologies. Learning more about programming, networking, operating systems, etc., is fun for me.


Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?

I am interested in working for any company that shares my values and that fosters a welcoming, positive community that is supportive of growth and development.  I want to work with people who are genuinely good people and who love what they do.  Culture and values are the most important qualities of a workplace for me.

Interested in looking at Gerrit’s credentials? Here you go! GitHubPortfolio, and LinkedIn.


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