Getting to Know our Apprentices

By: James Wilton, Software Engineering Apprentice

How did you get involved with Software Engineering?

My father worked for Packard Bell for most of the time I lived with him, so I was always playing around in DOS, building and upgrading our home system, adding a network connection for gaming, etc. But of course, I had to blaze my own trail and not follow blindly in his footsteps. When I chose a focus for my studies, I went to the complete other end of the spectrum. This focus lead me to join the California Army National Guard as a photojournalist, giving me a chance to see the world and meet interesting, diverse people and cultures. Once that stage of my life was over, I returned to school and finished out a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences.


During that time I took a few basic programing courses as electives, and in doing so I realized that I really really enjoyed the logical, pragmatic approach to problem solving that was involved. But the traditional university path to computer science was not for me. I looked into all the new coding/developer boot camps that had been popping up and found one in Chicago, a city I had always wanted to experience, for military veterans called Code Platoon. With that, my decision was made for me. I soon found out that the two worlds I had always thought to be disparate were in fact much more intertwined.


What qualifications are needed for a Software Engineer Apprentice?

An SE Apprentice and an SE have the same base qualification: a love of learning. The thing that breaks an apprentice away from the pack is when that desire becomes a passionate drive to make every opportunity one for learning. An apprentice’s day is spent taking apart every piece of the software engineering process, seeing what makes it tick and then taking that newly gained enlightenment and integrating it into his or her personal approach to development. When you have this much focus on learning and bettering yourself it doesn’t turn off at any point in the day. Everything you do becomes a moment to improve, a moment to learn about something around you. Another qualification that is just as important is the ability to accept that you don’t know everything and you will make mistakes. No one is perfect and as an apprentice you will be reminded of that often. But that’s part of the learning process. Mistakes are guide posts that point out places for improvement and growth and the whole reason you are going through an apprentice program is to do just that: grow.


What’s the best part of working at Enova?

The best part of working at Enova and what brought me to Enova is the apprenticeship program. This is my first job as a software engineer, and I am still very green — the chance to focus on learning not only coding in general but also on best practices and methodologies like behavior driven development and proper object-oriented design principles is an amazing opportunity for any new developer. I looked at quite a few companies and Enova’s onboarding program is the best out there. I also got a chance to meet and pair with many of the engineers at Enova during Code Platoon. The knowledge and guidance they had during the meet-ups, plus the welcoming attitude they and everyone we meet from the company during the entire program, made me want to be a part of the team.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Chicago and the great Ruby community I have found out here is still so new and exciting to me that I cannot think of a better place to be right now. But that seems like the easy way out so I will say that maybe splitting my time between a warmer island location during the colder months would be amazing. I do have California in my blood and I am not a fan of that white stuff that falls from the sky out here, or at least the temperature that causes it. I have had the chance to visit some amazing countries and places during my time in the military, including spending a few years in Hawaii and some time in South East Asia. But few places have had as much of an impact on me as Chicago has.


What are your top three desert island must-haves?

I am conflicted by my military training telling me to always be prepared, bringing a survival knife, first aid kit and something to insure clean water, and the nerd in me saying bring a ROBOT, a laptop and a solar generator! I guess it could be a survival robot…Swiss Army Bot! Plus, I feel like it would be a very lonely experience, and a robot would make for a much interesting conversation companion then a volleyball with a hand print.


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