In this installment of Meet the Digitalians, I get to know Andrew Wardwell, one of our Boston office front end developers. In addition to being a talented artist and humble comedian, Andrew’s got wisdom to share on working remotely, being part of a team, and learning from your mistakes.
KM: How do you describe your job to other developers?
KM: How do you describe your job to your parents?
AW: The internet. I can’t explain. It is gainful employment.
AW: Well sometimes I explain that anything you actually see on the web—that’s what I do. And my mom can actually relate a bit. She’s interested in WordPress because her company uses it.
KM: What’s your favorite part of your role?
AW: While development can be very math oriented, I really like the visual aspects of it. Not just regurgitating designs, but finessing the visual elements of the front end scope into a good UI. I also like the types of applications I’m working on. In previous jobs I did mainly marketing websites. Now I’m building tools that people are using.
KM: What’s working at home like versus in the office?
AW: When I’m working at home I jump around a lot. I’ll spend the morning at a coffee shop, then midday at the library, then head home for lunch and do the rest of my work at home. The only people I’ll talk to are the barrista, the librarian, and then my wife. When I’m at the office, I spend the morning and afternoon all in one place, but the work is a lot more broken up, since I’m around everyone. I talk to a lot more people, so it’s more like spurts of work. That’s a good thing on some days, a bad thing on others. And which one I like better totally depends on the work I’m doing.
KM: What do you like most about working for JD?
AW: It feels much more like a team here. In previous jobs, I was more of a single entity. Here, I have the ability to work autonomously but at the same time interact with other developers. We’re always teaching and learning from each other which is great.
There’s also a high level of trust among clients, which makes them really pleasant to work with. And our Project Directors have some technical understanding that allows them to interpret for the client, which saves a lot of confusion and time.
KM: Okay let’s talk about these RADD facts. Why was your nickname Big England?
AW: I spent 3rd grade in England, so when I came back I had a late start in Little League. And I was a…portly young man.
KM: So…roller hockey? Talk to me.
AW: Yep so I never played hockey as a kid but I rollerbladed a lot. Then one day a friend invited me to a Bruins game, and during the game he was reminiscing about his hockey childhood. I guess it was his stories and his will to play hockey again that motivated me to start. So now I play pickup.
KM: Does anyone ever play with roller skates?
AW: I have a feeling that it’s taboo. But roller hockey does have a relatively secreted, unspoken following. So I’ll check it out. The only thing is, lateral movement is a little tough with roller skates…
KM: True story. That picture of you on roller blades. What’s that about?
AW: My friend was entering a video into a contest that we had at my school, and that was basically the climax of the story. There was a race, and, well, yea, it was fabricated. But it is close to how I feel about rollerblading.
KM: I’ll take it. Dumbledore?
AW: Well I like Harry Potter and Dumbledore is the governing wizard/mentor figure…I was struggling for a D, I must admit. I pushed it a little bit.
KM: When it comes to Dumbledore, you can’t go wrong…now what about doodling?
AW: I’ve always enjoyed drawing, and took classes in high school and college. I didn’t major it in it but I took enough courses to have been able to. It’s kind of an unconscious passion that I feel drawn to without much effort of will, I guess. Doodling is a very automatic process. You pick up a pen and paper, and it can be done without an end or a goal.
KM: I imagine this is very different from coding, yes?
AW: Yea. Coding is about fitting pieces together for the achievement of an overall goal. It’s a rewarding process, but it’s just cognitively different to engage in.
KM: What kind of music do you rock out to when you’re working?
AW: Lately I’ve been enjoying mixes…songs people have curated and combined into longer set of music. I’m usually pretty vehement about listening to a whole album, not just a single song. But even albums can be disjointed. So these mixes are great. There’s no ads or pauses and one song just flows into the next.
KM: What do you do on the weekends?
AW: Well there’s lots of cool stuff on the North Shore. It’s got a lot of great stuff for, I don’t know, things like, food, nature, excursions or something like that?
AW: Definitely wafting, definitely wandering. We know a lot of people in our town so we tend to bump into friends wherever we go.
KM: What’s a big mistake you made and how did you learn from it?
AW: Lots of mistakes as a developer come from just not knowing what you’re doing.
Just because something is close to the right code or solution doesn’t mean it is the right code or solution.
So there you have it. Some WordPress, working, wheels, wafting, and wizards, and you get a Wardwell!
Here’s some more of his work:
A Culture of Camaraderie
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Meet the Digitalians: Kim Bridge
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Get to Know: John Ediger
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