Hiking enthusiast Rick Brooks sees programming as just another boulder to conquer. His determination to improve his craft is powering him through the completion of DigitalCrafts’ 16-week Full Stack Immersive program while he also finishes up a second bachelors degree in Graphic Design.
Brooks is looking for a company of any size that will provide mentorship and allow him to wear different hats, especially in opportunities where he can expand his knowledge in Java. Learn more below about Brooks’s hiking trails platform that lets you search for the best trails in your area, and what he’s looking for in his next gig.
What is your previous education?
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. I’m currently working on a second Bachelors from Full Sail University online, where in a year and a half I will have a Bachelors of Science in Graphic Design.
Why the interest in the technology field?
I’ve always had a fascination and appreciation for technology. I’ve enjoyed seeing the evolution of technology from when I was a kid until now. I got into this because I’ve always felt there was something more for me to do, and when I started coding I knew this was it. It’s a great balance of “ah yes, I totally nailed this!” vs. “well crap, I just stared at a screen for two hours to find I left off a semi-colon.” I love the good and the bad that comes with this and the fact that I can always continue to challenge myself, because the industry is always growing and you need to grow with and learn as you go.
What tech projects have you worked on?
I’ve completed two projects through my time here — R.A.D. Hiking as well as Trace & Find. R.A.D. Hiking lets users search for local trails in their area or where they will be traveling to. Trace & Find allows users to report lost items they find along the way and lets users search for an item that they lost. Both presented unique challenges in their own way, but it helped to firm up and bring together the concepts we were learning full circle. I’m looking forward to our next project that we will be building in React.
What tools are essential to you as a developer?
Definitely a text editor that you know and are comfortable with — for me that would be Visual Studio Code. Being comfortable in your text editor can alleviate some of the stresses that can occur. I’ll also say using resources like Stack Overflow or MDN have been crucial in my learning.
Lastly I’ll just say the person to your left and right. It’s rare that you will be working alone. Collaboration in this industry is a must and knowing when to ask for help makes all the difference.
How do you stay informed and on-top of emerging trends?
Reading articles through Medium and LinkedIn are one way to keep up to date with what’s out there and the new up-and-coming trends. I would like to attend more conferences as well for networking purposes. I also listen to podcasts on my way in each morning — currently listening to “Code Newbie” and “Front End Happy Hour.”
What are your best technical or creative skills?
I think a unique perspective I bring to this is my design eye that I’m developing as I go through my Graphic Design program. Basic things that I’m learning, like wire-framing and having an idea of how you want something to look, really help me to formulate a plan in my head and how I want this thing to work. Taking it a step further, I write in how I want my code to interact or things it should be doing in each wireframe or in-between like making an AJAX call.
So having that, along with my keen eye for detail, I feel helps me in my development.
What’s next on your list to learn?
Once I finish here at DigitalCrafts, my plan is start learning Java and Swift. Most of my focus will be going into Java as a wide variety of companies look for that. Ultimately, for the first year, I want to just be taking in as much as I can and then as I progress in development, learn more languages.
Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?
I’m actually open to any at the moment because there are unique things to learn by working with each size of company. Of course, working with a mid-size to larger company presents you with the opportunity to have that mentorship which is something to appreciate as a junior software engineer. I’m open to any opportunity that presents itself and focused more so on how my talents will be put to use once I’m there.