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On the Record with Rose: Omavi Walker

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Omavi has been working for Brightspot since August 2016.

This week, Rose went on the record with Omavi Walker, a 2016 graduate of Virginia Tech who began his career as a software developer at Brightspot, formerly Perfect Sense, last summer. Omavi came to Brightspot with a strong front end background, but over the past year he has pushed himself to expand his skill set as a full stack developer. During their conversation, Rose and Omavi talk about this challenge, as well as Omavi's passion for jumping out of planes and his experience traveling to Austria in March 2017 as a volunteer at Special Olympics World Games.

You started at Brightspot after graduating from Virginia Tech last year. What convinced you come here and start your career? What have you learned in the past year?
When I started looking for jobs, I knew I wanted to be at a smaller company. I didn't want to go to a large company and get lost as a random cog in a big machine. I also wanted to learn of a lot of different aspects of development and pursue my interest in web development. So, when I found Brightspot at the career fair, it checked every box. Since coming here, I have learned a lot about front end development—HTML, CSS, and Java Script. I have also learned a lot about back end development and have improved my Java 8 skills. Beyond that, I've simply experienced what it's like to work at a web development company.

Can you tell me more about your role as a developer for Brightspot? What does a typical day look like?
We come in and start with our morning stand-ups to review the progress that we have made, clear up any blockers, and set project plans for the future. These daily check-ins make sure everyone is on the same page. Then, we begin our development, which involves lots of research and problem solving. I mostly do front end development, but occasionally I work on back end as well. With a year under my belt, It's getting to the point where some things are becoming second nature for me. I see problems and think "I have done this before," and know the best approach. But other times, I might not know where to start or feel that there is a better way to solve something that I've seen before and have to research to find the best way to attack the problem. This allows me to add more skills and knowledge to my tool box.

What is the current project you're working on? What is your role?
I am working on Johnson & Johnson as a front end developer.

What is your traits or characteristics do you think help make someone successful as a developer?
You need to always be willing to learn. You need to be able ask questions and set your ego aside. There are so many smart people surrounding us and everyone has a different tool set. If you are willing to ask questions you can learn a lot from your peers.

Are there any technologies you haven't had the chance to work with that you're excited about playing with in the future?
Yes, I think our new product, Brightspot Express, although it's still in it's early stages, is going to be a really cool product with many unique aspects. I attend front end meetings every other week and get to see the development happening around it. I am also currently mentoring an intern who is working on Express, so I get to play with it a little bit when I'm helping. I am really excited to work with these new tools because they have really improved since I started a year ago.

In March, you traveled to Austria with 10 other Brightspot employees to volunteer at Special Olympics World Games. What did you learn from that experience?
I was inspired. This event reminded me that with perseverance, any of us can accomplish outstanding feats.

What piece of advice would you give to a recent college graduate preparing to start his/her career?
Keep learning and be curious. Often, when I do research to solve a problem, I find other information that I wouldn't think was relevant to the situation. However, many times I find a use for what I thought was irrelevant information soon after stumbling upon it. Whenever you have that thought that you do not understand something ask questions, don't be quiet. If you are confused, then asking someone can save you a lot of time and broaden your knowledge base long term.

Besides the people, what's your favorite part about working for Brightspot?
We have a beautiful office and I love the free lunch. Mostly, however, I really like how much I can learn here. That's my favorite part. We have this giant library, where you can see everyone's favorite books. Reading the titles of those books is interesting, let alone actually digging into them. Also, at Brightspot, you can try new challenges. I came in specifically as a front end developer, but wanted to learn back end and grow my full stack skills. I asked for opportunities to try full stack projects, and was given assignments that have helped me learn. As long as we are willing to work hard, we have options to take on different challenges.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
Sky diving is my number one activity outside of the office. Since I was very small, I have dreamed about being able to fly. Although sky diving is not necessarily flying, it very much feels that way. I like to work my way up through different activities associated with skydiving such as sport parachuting, paragliding, wingsuiting, and going to the wind tunnel. I also like hiking, biking, and playing soccer. I just enjoy being outdoors and being active.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?
The last book I read was The Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation. It's a great book and I definitely recommend it!

If you could be any animal, which animal would you be, and why?
I would probably be a peregrine falcon because it goes with my sky diving interest. I would love to fly around the world and see different things. They can dive up to 240 mph. That's crazy!

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