Welcome to Hearsay Social’s “Superhero Spotlight” series, in which we highlight one employee at the company that drives our engineering, customer success, marketing, sales, and operations. These are the faces of Hearsay Social!
For this “PyCon Edition” of the Superhero Spotlight we spoke with Hearsay Social software engineer Scott Lobdell, who is presenting at PyCon 2014 Montréal, a Python community conference, on one the coolest programming projects we’ve ever seen: Programming an Autonomous 20 Foot Blimp with Python.
Be sure to check out his session and join Hearsay Social for other activities at PyCon!
Title: Software Engineer
Time at Hearsay Social: Nearly 1 year
What did you do before coming to Hearsay Social?
I was in the Army for 5 years, so this is actually my first civilian job. Before coming here, I was a signal officer in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan once.
That’s a big shift. What attracted you to Hearsay Social?
When I went to apply for a job, I wanted to be a software engineer, so I did a shotgun blast of applying to companies. But on paper I looked like a risky hire, so most technical recruiters wouldn’t even look at me. But Hearsay Social actually took the time to interview me. Once they made an offer, I accepted.
What were the reasons you looked risky on paper?
I didn’t have any experience. I’d never been a software engineer before. I respected Hearsay Social a lot because they actually took a second to test me, essentially.
Were you programming before you went to the Army?
I was a computer science major in college at West Point, and I programmed on the side–just for fun–my entire time in the Army. Although I didn’t actually program in the Army, I was in the most technical branch of the army. Programming is what I’m passionate about.
So what does your typical day look like at Hearsay Social?
When I come in the morning depends on how late I stayed the night prior. I work on something that I want to finish or something I think is cool, so I’ve stayed as late as midnight. Typical day for me is mostly programming, problem solving, working on a project–given the amount of things that there are to do, it’s always been a project of my choosing. Very rarely am I specifically told what I need to do.
What do you love the most about working here?
There are a ton of perks. Probably the best thing is that this is the smartest group of people I’ve ever worked with. I’ve made more friends here in two weeks than in the past five years. I get paid to do something that I love. I really enjoy programming, which is why I work long hours. Another unique thing is the sports we play on the side, like volleyball and a little flag football.
Is there any specific accomplishment you’re proud of from the past year?
My proudest one so far is the “suggested time to post.” [Ed. note: “Suggested time to post” is a unique feature in Hearsay Social that recommends to you the most ideal time of day to schedule your post.] It’s neat because it’s fairly subtle: all the hard work is done in the backend to ultimately deliver you a single tool tip, which I think is kind of cool. It works by leveraging all the data that Hearsay Social has already collected, doing a little analyzing, and pushing it towards the user. It’s personalized, so it’s different per user. The reason I did that was I wanted to know the answer to that question myself. It became useful to others.
What’s your best advice for job seekers?
There’s a lot of value in showing initiative yourself, whether that’s maintaining your own blog or your own application. That creates value no matter what, whether it gets you hired or not.
Time for the fun questions! What’s your favorite snack?
I eat more beef jerky than anybody else here.
Last Action Hero. It’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where the whole thing is a parody to other action movies, so it’s just over-the-top ridiculousness the whole time.
Favorite color? #111
Do you have a superpower? I can fuse two hydrogen atoms to create helium.
Favorite song to DJ on the office Sonos?
Nobody likes my music, so I generally wait for everyone to leave before I start DJing, but it’s all heavy metal.
Who is your role model, and why?
I had an influential mentor in the army, who was an infantry officer with a PhD in computer science. He was committed to the idea of a warrior-scholar. He was extremely smart and one of the most athletic and strongest people I’ve ever met, and he was a badass infantry dude. He just had an unbreakable work ethic. Those are the traits I respect in the professional realm.
Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, learn more about what it’s like working at Hearsay Social. Oh, and check out Scott’s autonomous 20-foot blimp below. It will be making an appearance at PyCon in April.