Jess Richmond – JS & C# Developer, and Lover of Eats, Beats, and Bikes

What was the path that brought you to Revelry?

Pre-COVID I was working as an Art Department assistant in the New Orleans film industry. When I first entered the industry a few years ago, I didn’t think of myself as a creative person – which I chuckle at now – so I initially siloed myself into the more logistical / production side of things, but after being around the wildly talented people who were bringing these big ideas to life, I realized I wanted to be working directly with the folks who were calling those creative shots.

That’s what I did for a couple of years – jumping from gig to gig and working crazy hours. I was having a lot of fun, but it didn’t seem sustainable in the long run, and always in my back pocket was this idea that I could turn to software development as my Plan B. After all, I’ve been using computers since I was in kindergarten and spent so much time as a kid personalizing the HTML and CSS of my profiles on whatever social media platform was hot at the time.

So, when COVID rolled around and the film industry shut down, I quickly pivoted to going down that software engineering path. I enrolled in a local bootcamp called Operation Spark and spent roughly six months completing their immersive program. That wrapped up in November and then I immediately jumped into the job hunt which is always a scary thing, but especially in a time when the whole world’s in crisis. Funny enough, though, Revelry was the first company I applied to!

So what, what do you do at Revelry?

Here at Revelry, I am a software engineer. I’m currently on the LDH project which kind of sprouted up as a response to COVID. The project has multiple “tracks” and I’m helping setup a portal for the folks who are in charge of electronic lab reporting with the State of Louisiana’s Department of Health. The portal will be a tool for this group to access lab reports, as it relates to COVID, of course, but also as it relates to any sort of health testing that is going on in the state.

What is the tech stack being used?

We’re using C# and .NET, which is relatively unique for a Revelry project where the stack tends to be Elixir and Phoenix. I come from a JavaScript background and, prior to joining the LDH team, had no experience at all working with C# so I’ve been learning on the fly. Being pushed into new technology is definitely a humbling experience – especially when you were just starting to feel pretty good about your knowledge of another technology – but it’s a good reminder to always return to channeling that beginner’s mind.

What stood out about your decision that drove your decision to join the company?

I really liked that Revelry is New Orleans based.  As I get older, I’m realizing I am more rooted in the New Orleans community than I thought I would ever be.  I feel like young people who are not from major cities often buy into this narrative that you need to leave home and forge your path elsewhere in order to be successful, so I thought I would be gone by now, but I’m realizing that New Orleans is great and I love the people and my community here so why would I leave!!? Revelry is also very values-centered, which I love, and their values happen to align with mine so that, plus being here in town, is what sold me. 

Also, Rev’s design thinking process is the jam and as someone who recognizes the importance of creativity, collaboration, and intuition, I love being able to witness that day in and day out. One of the first questions that I asked in my interview process was asking how engineers fit into the design process and I learned that here at Revelry, everyone’s work on a project is pretty intertwined. Sure enough, in my first couple of weeks of working on LDH, I was invited to participate in a Design Thinking mini sprint where I was able to share some ideas & hear the ideas of others, and the whole experience helped me better understand where the work we do as engineers starts.

So what what is your favorite Slack channel at Revelry?

In the internal Slack, #watercooler is my fav, especially during All Hands, Revelry’s weekly company meeting. I’m such a chatty person and am really missing the little interactions and small talk of having meetings in a physical space (something I’m sure a lot of us took for granted in the Before Times!). It’s hard to replicate that in Zoom meetings, but following along in #watercooler to see what sort of comments and jokes folks are making gets the job done.

Revelry also has a public Slack, and I’m always checking out what people are saying in #revbeats or #reveats – music and food: two of my favorite things in this world.

If you could get up on a soapbox and talk about anything, what would it be?

Currently: how important it is to be physically active, the cultural significance of Tik Tok, what a wonderful tool the Internet can be, and how our prison systems continue to fail everyone.

Oh, and I’m also always down to ramble about the best places to get coffee in New Orleans: Hey Cafe for good community & delicious ethically sourced and locally roasted beans, Park Island Brew if you are in my neighborhood (Fairgrounds what’s up!), The Station if you are about to either hop on or hop off the City Park Ave I-10 exit and need fuel in the form of caffeine and pastries, and Small Mart/Pond if you’ve got a whole weekend morning to hang out, people watch, and also want a bagel sandwich.

What non-digital product, could you not live with that?

My bike for sure you know. Pre-pandemic it was definitely the way to go to bars, to restaurants, to shows, to hang out etc, but even now, with nowhere really to go, it still feels really good to be able to whiz around the city on two wheels. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your physical health, it’s good for your mental health (as long as you don’t have to deal with drivers being jerks – three feet y’all!). New Orleans has also been doing a lot of work over the past few years to really expand the bike network across the city and make biking more safe, so I’m really excited about that.

So on the work-front what’s your programming language of choice?

At this point in my career I’ve only worked with Javascript and C#, but I think I’ll always hold Javascript near and dear to my heart because it was the first language I was ever super proficient in! I appreciate its flexibility and I have had a lot of fun writing programs in Javascript. At the same time though, I appreciate the structure of C# that comes with being strongly typed. It makes sense from a practical application standpoint, but has also made learning the language a bit easier too!

What’s your favorite lesser known technology to geek out about?

I’ve become a casual birder over the past couple of years, and Cornell University has an Ornithology Lab (called Merlin) that’s put out an amazing free bird identification mobile app and I love telling people about it. If there’s ever a bird that you see in the wild & need help ID’ing it, you just go into the app and put in where you saw it, when you saw it, and describe what it was doing and its colors and then a list of potential birds is delivered to you! It’s all pretty accurate and you can save all the birds you’ve spotted to a list, and I think it’s a pretty wholesome way to stay grounded in the physical environment.

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