How did you enter this career?
About 13-14 year ago, during the last couple of years in my previous job as a Graphic Designer, I came to the realization that the print was a quickly dying medium. If I wanted to continue to evolve as a professional, I needed to transition into something else that I was interested in. I had done some design work for websites, and had been assisting with some basic HTML and CSS, so I naturally chose to teach myself as much as I could about web development.
Where else have you worked?
I spent a bit of time in Toronto working as a paid intern just before graduating college in 2000, and realized Toronto was not for me. I moved to Ottawa in hopes of finding work, but also knowing there were over a dozen of my hometown friends living here which I thought would help make things easier. What I didn’t know at the time was that getting a design job in Ottawa was nearly impossible as most companies hired firms from Toronto.
After jumping from short term contract to short term contract, I finally got an opportunity at a permanent position with University Affairs, a magazine published by Universities Canada (formerly the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada). I worked with a fantastic group of people there for nearly 10 years before making the difficult decision to give up a permanent position, and take a 1 year term position at Carleton.
What are some of the technologies you have used along the way?
Someone once told me there’s an old myth that says it takes over 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. If that’s the case, then you could probably consider me a WordPress expert. I’ve been using WordPress for well over 10 years now, and would consider my skills to be very strong in PHP and CSS. I am currently planning on making significant improvements to my skills and knowledge with ES6, React, and have a personal interest in things such as Gatsby and Laravel.
What are the best things about your job?
This team. I’m willing to bet that you won’t find a better group of people. I consider them friends just as much as I do colleagues, and each and every one of them has had some sort of impact on my life, both inside and outside of work life. The work is fun, exciting, and always interesting, but the people make it all that much better.
Do you have some exciting projects you are working on right now?
At Carleton I’m heavily involved in the cutheme project, acting as the project manager, and one of several developers. I have also been heavily involved with the RDS project (Ravens Design System), helping steer the direction of our custom block and grid system that we hope others in the university community can start to leverage for their own website and application work.
In the last year or so, I’ve had an interest in giving back to the WordPress community. I’ve learned so much from it in the last 10+ years, but have never given back anything significant. I’m currently working on some open source projects on Github that I feel could have value to the community. One of the bigger ones being a multi tenant application configuration for WordPress, which is explained in the readme of the Github repo.
Outside of Carleton I have a couple of contract projects for custom WordPress sites, but I plan on stepping away from working at home once I wrap them up, as I want to get back to other personal interests of mine that have taken a back seat in recent years.
What music are you listening at the moment?
Since August 30th, 95% of the time it’s TOOL that is blasting in my ears. The other 5% might be Alter Bridge, Smashing Pumpkins, or Glorious Sons. Usually I’m a bit all over the place, mostly preferring heavy metal, or alternative. I’ll give just about anything a chance, with the exception of country, and dance/electronic.
What are you reading at the moment?
Tutorials and documentation. Right now I’m so focused on work and evolving my skillset, that reading a real book has not happened in a while. Ok, let’s be honest here, I rarely read books these days.
What do you do outside of work to amuse yourself?
Sadly, at this very moment I would say building WordPress sites. But as mentioned above, I plan to step away from that very soon, and turn my interests to other hobbies, such as playing guitar and getting back into writing music (an old high school hobby of mine). I also enjoy movies and tv series, and I’m far behind on all the great content offered by Netflix and Prime Video.
Playing video games has always been one of my biggest hobbies, going back to the days of the NES system, and my first experience with Final Fantasy. I’m an RPG nerd who is planning on diving deep into one when winter comes. I’ve also started going to the gym, as I would like to lose some weight and get back into shape, with a goal of joining a basketball rec league here at Carleton – I played at the highest level in high school, and represented my hometown in the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter games in 1994.
What exciting plans do you have coming up in the next year?
Learning to be an even better father than I was the year before. I don’t think I’ll ever finish learning, and I’ll never stop trying to be better.
There are a few projects I’d like to tackle in the next year around my house. We need to upgrade our storage area, it’s absolutely unreal how much stuff accumulates when you have 2 small kids … We also need to rebuild half of our front lawn, poorly laid river stone is nearly impossible to maintain when kids take up most of your free time. Neither tasks sound overly exciting, but I have an interest in woodworking, and some new tools from Christmas past that I’m excited to use on a couple of projects.