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On the Record with Rose: James Coutry

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James has been working for Brightspot since March 2011.

This week, Rose went on the record with software engineer and juggling extraordinaire, James Coutry. In his 6 years at Brightspot, formerly Perfect Sense, James has worked on some of Brightspot's highest profile projects including Bloomberg BNA, Scripps Networks, Coca-Cola, and Univision. Most recently, James has provided critical support to the development of Brightspot Express. During their conversation, Rose and James discuss the high stakes of this current work, as well as how James, a math major at Christopher Newport University, wound up in the field of software engineering.

How long have you worked for Brightspot?
I have been here for 6 years now. I was looking for something new and exciting after I moved back to the area after school.

I know you majored in math during college, what inspired you to become a software engineer?
Coming from math and physics, the thing that attracted me was the problem solving nature of software. Diving into problems, coming up with solutions, and constantly striving to make something better was very appealing to me.

You've been at Brightspot over 5 years. In that time, how you have seen Brightspot evolve? What has been the most significant change?
I have seen Brightspot evolve in a countless number of ways! One significant change that stands out to me is the addition of the model-view-view-model pattern (MVVM), this helps back-end developers work more efficiently with the front-end developers.

What traits or characteristics do you think help make someone successful as a software engineer?
An important characteristic is being humble. Even if you have a ton of experience, you always need to be open to the possibility that there can be a better way to do something.

Describe a uniquely challenging project you have worked on at Brightspot and how it helped you grown professionally?
It's actually my current project, Brightspot Express, because it's the first project that I have worked on where other projects will depend on my work. Thus, there is a lot more responsibility than I have had in the past, when an individual project was its own, isolated item.

What piece of advice would you give a recent graduate preparing to start his/her career in software engineering?
My advice would be to never to let things get ahead of you. Always keep up with with what's new, learn the latest technologies, and never be afraid to try something different.

Technology is always changing and evolving. How do you stay current on what's happening in your field?
I talk to a lot of my colleagues at work, I follow the news, and I like to keep up-to-date with all technology topics in physics, math, and computer science. I am constantly reading on the internet.

Besides the people what's your favorite part about working for Brightspot?
One of the most important things to me is learning, and I think Brightspot is an excellent environment where I can learn and grow constantly. I have been here for 6 years, and I still have the feeling that there are endless amounts that I can continue to learn.

What was the last movie you saw? Would you recommend it?
The last movie I saw was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and I watched it because my friends were shocked that I had not seen it. I thought it was pretty good. It's an older movie, but back in the day, it was cutting edge with its special effects. I recommend it, but I bet most people have probably seen it.

What was the last concert you attended? If you remember it well, what was the best song performed during the set?
I saw Ween in Charlottesville last Thursday. My favorite song they played was Your Party!

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I have a lot. I like to juggle, crochet, and skateboard. I like to play the piano, chess, and darts. I like to go to the gym. I pretty much like to do everything!

Who would win in a juggling contest? You or Cindy?
It's tough to say. It's awesome to have a fellow juggler in the work place! It has re-inspired me to start juggling. One of the things that got me into juggling is the fact that there are so many different styles of juggling and so many different props you can use to juggle. Cindy probably has the edge on me with more risky props like swords or fire juggling, but my specialty is siteswap juggling. Any juggling pattern with any number of props can be represented by a string of numbers!

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