October 16, 2018

Career Path: Graham Bartlett, Senior Software Engineer at Renoviso

What does the career path and a day-in-the-life look like for a Senior Software Engineer at Renoviso?

We interviewed Graham Bartlett to learn more!

Career Path

Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work? What was your very first job (before any internships)?

I grew up in Brunswick, ME. My father ran the family landscaping business, and my mother was a social worker. Naturally, my first job was landscaping, mostly carrying heavy stuff, shoveling dirt, and getting bossed around by older family members. Suffice to say, I learned to take direction pretty well and how to get my hands dirty.

Where did you go to college and what did you study there?

I attended Assumption College in Worcester, MA. My main areas of study were International Economics and Classics with a focus on Latin. Oddly enough, I never took a single computer science or engineering class.

You started your career as a risk analyst, then changed direction to software engineering. What sparked your interest in building a career in software engineering?

As a risk analyst, I found there were a lot of daily tasks that could be automated. I didn’t know anything about writing code at the time, but I figured I could teach myself how to program and start expediting some of my day-to-day tasks. As I began to read programming books and websites, it was quite clear that there were a lot of similarities with some of the quantitative and language classes that I took in college. It took a few months before I felt even remotely comfortable writing code.

Word eventually got around to the engineering department that I was writing small programs, and they asked me if I wanted to join their team.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Senior Software Engineer at Renoviso?

Renoviso is a startup environment, so we all take on a lot of different responsibilities. Along with architecting our software, I also do my fair share of code reviews, mentor some of the younger engineers, and work closely with other departments to help define new product features and enhancements.

You’ve been at Renoviso for over three years. Can you share what the impact has been to your career regarding working at a high-growth, venture-backed company?

Working at Renoviso has been an amazing experience. I’ve been able to help build our stack from the ground up, and make architectural decisions that may not be afforded to me at a larger, more established company. On top of that, our team is fantastic! I get to work with and learn from some brilliant people. I’d say these two things have expedited my growth and knowledge of engineering and business.

Renoviso Team

Any tips for someone considering a career different from their major?

Just be a sponge and try to suck in all the information that you can. Utilize every resource available whether it’s coworkers, the internet, or even libraries. When I was learning how to write code, my main resource was my brother’s high school computer science book. I also wasn’t afraid to reach out to anyone willing to talk shop. Lastly, be confident in your abilities and be patient!

Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

I’m totally a coffee snob. I usually limit myself to two cups in the morning. In the afternoon and the evening, I tend to drink a lot of green tea.

What time do you get into the office?

I usually get in the office around 8:20 AM.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I start my day by checking my Slack and email messages to make sure there aren’t any overnight requests that I need to handle. After that, I’m usually heads-down writing code until lunch. Depending on the day, I may eat outside, but if I’m swamped with work I will eat at my desk. Once lunch is over, I tend to handle things like code reviews, QA, and pushing new features through our testing environment and to production. If I can get through those things, then I’ll write code for the rest of the day.

What time do you head out of the office?

I usually head out around 4:25 PM but will stay later if I need to get more things done. At Renoviso, we really try to make sure people avoid burnout and can enjoy themselves outside of work.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?

I try to shut it down completely but I always have my notifications on in case I need to hop online and handle production issues.

Any productivity hacks?

I try to heed the advice of the Maker v.s. Manager Scheduling model. In the morning, I’m heads-down writing feature code with my headphones on. After lunch, I usually answer emails, do code reviews, and help to make sure we are pushing items through our QA queue.

What are the three apps that you can’t live without?

MyFitnessPal, Venmo, and Slack.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

Rebuilding the whole Renoviso codebase from the ground up! It was a wonderful learning experience and by far the largest project I’ve worked on.

Graham at home show
Graham (right) at a trade show with the Renoviso team!

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with so many amazing people who I’d consider mentors and advisors. At Renoviso we have an open office space and an “open door” policy so I look to my teammates and the senior leadership here for guidance.

Outside of Renoviso, I still keep in touch with Alan Fitzgerald, Head of Engineering at CashStar. He stuck his neck out there for me and brought me onto the engineering team. Alan was instrumental in helping me get my software engineering career started, and I’m lucky to be able to call him my friend and mentor.

Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6