Q&A with our newest Software Consultant, Alex Hoopes
Alex candidly shares his experience and a sneak peek behind the scenes into what its really like to be a Consultant at HSTK (Haystack).
“it was immediately apparent that everyone was genuinely interested in me as a person”
Can you tell us a little about your background?
“I graduated in 2018 with a degree in Computer Science. My first job out of college was with a huge company working as an Automation Engineer working on internal-facing applications to help drive efficiency within the organization on a large team. After that I transitioned over to a large marketing firm working full stack on both front end and back end. I had to work within a specific tech stack due to a legacy product that the company had no interest in upgrading or evolving, so I didn’t feel like I was growing as a developer. All of which led me to Haystack.
Outside of work I like taking my dog out, hiking around Phoenix, and games of all sorts; board, video, you name it and I like it. I’m also a movie buff and recently married.”
What were your first 90 days like?
“Actually, one of the coolest things happened before I even started. My wedding date was approaching around the same time as my proposed start date, and Haystack was happy to push back my start date. Most companies would have needed me to start right away with no thought to my life outside of work.
On day 1 my laptop arrived at 9am, smooth. Then I had one-on-ones with everyone on the team and it was immediately apparent that everyone was genuinely interested in me as a person. For the next few days I worked to set up my development environment the way I like it. The entire onboarding process was smooth and fast, and I jumped right into projects. At past companies the onboarding involved a lot of “thumb-twiddling” waiting for work, but not here! My first project kicked off immediately working on the back end of a mobile app for a healthcare startup. The whole team was quick to respond to any questions I had and lend a hand. Never once did I feel like asking questions was annoying anyone, people genuinely wanted to help me succeed. As the lead Software Consultant on the healthcare mobile app my first 90 days was all about meeting with clients and other partners and working on the project. Never once was I told “this is the tech stack you will use”, I had the freedom to choose what worked best for the project and gained deep experience much faster than I would have at a larger company.”
Tell us about you typical day?
“I wake up at 7am, take my dog to the dog park and have breakfast. Every morning we have stand-up with the whole team (we span 3 US time zones) for a half hour. Every day there are 1 to 2 short 30 minute or less meetings, but other than that I’m left to focus on development. I stop around noon for lunch and to walk the dog at leisure. We have the freedom to work a flexible schedule as we need, so some days I’ll take a longer walk or run an errand. After lunch break I get back to the project until I come to a logical stopping point. We aren’t expected to work outside of business hours, but sometimes I’m grooving and I’ll work later. On Tuesdays I work with the team at a local co-working space. This is optional but everyone does it anyway; I love seeing the team in person and getting away from the house for a day each week. We do a happy hour after work as a team.”
What do you want prospective developers to know about Haystack?
“Professionally, as a smaller company you’re forced to grow and take on more than you would at a larger corporate environment. You’re encouraged to experiment and learn. I have bi-weekly one-on-one’s with my manager to discuss my short and long term career goals, they’re very committed to helping me grow. As a Software Consultant there is more emphasis on client-facing communication. I love that it cuts out the middleman – you get to hear directly from the customers about the problems you’re solving and their ideas. A lot gets lost in translation in traditional client communication structures, and the whole development process is a lot more collaborative and outcomes-driven versus just being assigned specific tasks from an invisible pipeline. I love being able to work with the context shared directly from the client, and I think it creates better outcomes for everyone.
Personally, being here is tremendously confidence-building thanks to the team that props you up and supports you day in and day out. And unlimited PTO meant I’m able to take my honeymoon sooner because I’m not waiting to “bank” my hours in advance and wait, which my wife and I really appreciate! And the flexible schedule allowed me to support a family member in need. Everyone on the team gets along really well, and we have fun at work but definitely get the job done. I’m really happy here and looking forward to continuing to grow within the company.”