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On the Record with Rose: Minnie Kwag

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Minnie has been working for Brightspot since July 2015.

This month, Rose went on the record with Minnie Kwag, a software engineer who started her career at Brightspot after graduating from UVA nearly five years ago and has contributed to a variety of projects during that time. Previously an engineer in client services, Minnie discusses her transition to the platform team and her responsibilities as a lead engineer. Beyond the workplace, Rose and Minnie discussed her passion for movies and the origin of her interest in web development growing up with Myspace.

How long have you been working for Brightspot? What brought you here?
I started working for Brightspot in the summer of 2015, so I've been here for about four and a half years. I connected with the company at a career fair at UVA, where I met Todd Loisel. I was looking for an opportunity to work in web application development and Brightspot caught my eye because it had interesting clients, was a smaller company where I could have more of an impact, and offered challenging, fast-paced projects.

For the past year, you have been working on the platform team as a lead engineer focusing on integrations. Can you tell me more about your role?
About a year ago, I stepped into the lead role. As a lead, my responsibilities are to maintain and deliver bug fixes, new features, and improvements to Brightspot. I also mentor team members to make sure they are engaged in the work they are doing and have the support they need to excel.

Prior to moving to the platform team, you were a software engineer in services building custom Brightspot solutions for many of our customers. What was the most memorable project you worked on?
One of the most memorable projects was actually one of the first I worked on! The project was with U.S. News & World Report. We created an external contributor portal, which allowed U.S. News clients to contract out to reporters, who used a separate site that integrated with Brightspot CMS. These contractors could write articles in a separate tool, which would ultimately wind up in Brightspot to take advantage of the same workflows and editorial tools. This project was really interesting because I was able to experience full-stack engineering while working alongside Aaliyah Goodman and Dan Slaughter.

What inspired you to become a software engineer?
To be honest, my interest began during the days of Myspace, using HMTL, CSS, and Javascript to create my own themes. That provided a small taste of learning about a whole new language of web development. Pursuing a degree in Computer Science at UVA really solidified that interest.

I read that you did an internship at Noblis, Can you tell me more about that experience?
During my summer internship, I worked with the health care department at Noblis on a solo project that consolidated big data sets of health care fraud and created a query system that allowed users to query for small samples of that data and receive visual representations.

In July 2018, you traveled to Seattle with 10 other Brightspot employees to volunteer for Special Olympics USA Games. What did you learn from that experience?
That was one of my favorite experiences since I started working at Brightspot! What I learned from going to Seattle is that the Special Olympics staff is incredibly dedicated to providing all of the athletes with a first-class experience. We met so many great people who worked tirelessly to ensure the Games ran smoothly. I also met so many amazing athletes and seeing them celebrate and uplift each other was very inspiring.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part of working for Brightspot?
The work is very interesting. We have so many projects in flight that I'm curious to learn more about. Additionally, the product itself is really interesting to work on and continues to move forward.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I like to watch movies, both at the theater and at home. I recently started doing [solidcore] and work out there regularly.

What was the last movie you saw? Would you recommend it?
The last movie I saw that I recommend is Parasite by Bong Joon Ho. Probably one of my top five movies, it swept the Oscars for a reason!

Where would you go in a time machine?
If I had a time machine, I would go further into the future instead of the past because I'm really curious about how things will continue to evolve.

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