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On the Record with Rose: Kevin Amrein

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Kevin has been working for Brightspot since August 2017

Rose went on the record with Kevin Amrein, a senior software engineer who started at Brightspot after graduating from James Madison University. Initially a back-end engineer working on the Brightspot platform, Kevin's role has expanded during his time at Brightspot to include working on sales demos and client projects. During the conversation, Kevin shares how these experiences have helped him grow as a developer and describes more about his recent work with Whole Foods.

You came to Brightspot after graduating from JMU? What attracted you to Brightspot initially?
The people I met at the JMU Career Fair drew me to Brightspot. The first person I spoke to was Paul Easterbrooks, who I knew from JMU. Paul sold me on the company and encouraged me to come for an interview. From my two previous internships, I had an idea of what I wanted in a company and when I came for my on-site interview Brightspot checked all of those boxes.

You have been traveling to Austin frequently and working closely with the team at Whole Foods. Can you tell me about that project and your role?
My involvement started with a few sales calls with Whole Foods when we were trying to get them as a client. After The Los Angeles Times launched, Dan Slaughter approached me and asked if I would go to Austin and oversee the Whole Foods relationship because they were going to be the first client to use GraphQL. I served as the primary developer for all of the Brightspot work and collaborated with Whole Foods developers to architect a non-traditional system that met all of their unique requirements.

How do you feel that you have grown as a developer since you started at Brightspot?
I have grown through the vast range of experiences I have been exposed to since starting at Brightspot. When I came here, I had an idea of what to expect, but it has far exceeded that notion. We solve different problems everyday and the diversity of those problems and the solutions they require have made me a better developer from when I started.

What inspired you to become a software engineer?
When I was young, my family always got Dell catalogs in the mail and I dreamed about having a flat screen monitor. My mom is also a developer, which exposed me to the field and helped give me the bug. I've always loved computers and new technologies, so from a pretty young age I knew this was what I wanted to do.

What traits are most important to making you successful at your job?
Perseverance and people skills. I won't give up on a problem until I solve it and I enjoy interacting with other people to make sure they are confident in the work I am doing.

I read that you were a teaching assistant while you were at JMU. How did that help you prepare you for your role at Brightspot?
As a TA, you need to look at someone's code that you've never seen and help them improve it. That experience has translated to work where I am regularly looking at other people's work for small fixes. Additionally, through my experience as a TA, I learned how to explain solutions to peers that helps them understand in a more meaningful and long-term way rather then simply giving them the answer.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
All the experiences I have had. When I started as a developer, I had no idea that I would work on sales pitches, develop solutions for marquee clients, or work directly on a platform. The breadth and depth of my experiences has been the best part.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I love sports! Golf and tennis are my favorite activities outside of the office.

If you could be any animal, which animal would you be, and why?
Probably a monkey. In the 4th grade, I had to write an essay on this exact question and I picked a monkey, so I'll stick with that.

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