Regardless of age, level of education, or experience, starting a new career can be daunting. Engine Digital attracts some of the best talent directly out of school, which forces many twenty-somethings to quickly adapt to the complex and ever-evolving world of digital strategy. From Creative and Technology to Content and UX, each of our practice groups are supported by these new team members, each playing an important role in our project work from kick-off through to final delivery. After a year of working at Engine Digital, we like to check in with our new hires for a Q&A session to help make their transition from student to professional as smooth as possible. We hope sharing these stories will help others about to embark on a new career.
This post is part of our Year One series, where we profile members of our team to find out what it’s like to get started in the digital agency business.
Meet Nikki Jones, Front-End Engineer.
Tell us about how you got into the web development field. Where did you go to school? What led you to pursue engineering as a career?
I majored in Visual Arts at the University of Victoria, spending the majority of my time in the sculpture studio. I’ve always been a very hands-on person, and I thought web design would bridge my love for creating into a practical career. After taking some new media classes at BCIT I realized that I did enjoy digital design, however the projects that I found challenging and most rewarding were all programming related. I chose to dive head first into the Technical Web Design program at BCIT, and fell in love with where design intersects with code.
How have the past 12 months shaped your perspective on building out web and mobile experiences?
Technology is interlaced within our every day, to a point where we rely on it–and with that comes immense responsibility. We can program beautiful interfaces and cutting edge experiences, however if they aren’t accessible or easy to use then we have essentially failed our job. Performance and accessibility is a necessity, and should be incorporated into everything we engineer. It’s exciting to be part of a time where we are future-proofing our digital experiences for more inclusive experiences.
Have you found your experience working in the digital agency environment to be different from what you thought it might be?
Working in an agency setting was a completely new experience for me. I had no idea what to expect, but there are some things I have noted over the past year:
- There’s an incredible amount of hardworking and talented people here, and we all push each other to produce great work.
- Being part of a smaller agency allows for the ability to work on several different projects, and increases learning opportunities. Everyday is exciting.
- Everyone has a unique background and set of experiences outside of their job title that they bring to the table.
- The fostering of growth and curiosity–we are constantly learning from each other, and with each other.
- There’s birthday cake and dogs. Automatic win.
What would you say have been the most important learnings from your time so far at Engine Digital?
My first year as a front-end developer at Engine Digital has been challenging, and exciting at the same time. Imposter syndrome is real, and it was tempting to fall into the trap of feeling like my skills were inadequate. During the first couple months I had to keep reminding myself that I was hired for a reason–I may not know what that is yet–but I’ve made it this far haven’t I? Coming out on the other end, these are some of my main takeaways:
- Always, always ask questions. Obvious, I know, but it’s a lot easier to just flat out ask what something is, and get a comprehensive answer, rather than secretly Googling it afterwards.
- Your opinion is valuable and worth sharing. Don’t be afraid to tell Design/UX what you think, a fresh set of eye’s can be very helpful.
- Stay focused–with the amount of new technologies, tools, and programming languages out there, it’s tempting to want to do everything. Learn a few things in depth, and get good at them, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
- Show your passion, and others will take notice. Some really great work can come out of experimenting in CodePen and collaborating with Design.
How have your skills and interests in engineering evolved over the past year?
Well, I still search Stack Overflow everyday; I think that will never change. Over the past year I’ve shifted toward more future oriented thinking. When I start on a project or feature there is always a level of brainstorming before I write any code. I frequently ask myself: ‘is this going to be reused somewhere?’ Or, ‘will the client want to repurpose this feature in the future?’
What would you say are the most important aspects of a great digital experience? What is necessary to achieve great work?
Great work is holistic, and is made for people. I believe that when everyone on the team (not just UX) takes ownership of producing the best possible experience for a user, that is when great digital experiences are made. Consistent refinement and rethinking is necessary from initial concept straight through to development.
Any closing thoughts?
Thank you to everyone on the Engine Digital team who has taken me under their wing, and has given me the opportunity and inspiration to keep developing my career. I’m looking forward to many more years to come.
We’re always on the lookout for great talent. See our current job openings.