What do the career path and day-in-the-life look for a Software Engineer at Cogito?
We connected with Jimmy Goddard to find out!
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I was born in Rahway, NJ. For much of my boyhood, I lived on the Jersey Shore. I moved to Miami, FL in 8th grade and attended high school down there. After high school, I moved up to Boston to attend college.
My father was a French and German teacher for high schoolers and middle schoolers. My mother was a Postmaster for the US Post Office.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I attended college briefly at Tufts University just out of high school and studied Physics and Chinese Language. I dropped out to learn more about myself and Boston midway through my sophomore year.
Shortly after dropping out I ended up working for Software, Tool & Die in Brookline, MA. They were the first ISP to offer Internet access to the public. I worked as a technical support engineer for five years before the market burst and broadband changed the access landscape. I found it difficult to find another job in the industry and went on to work for the White Horse Tavern in Allston, MA.
I worked nearly every job at the White Horse over 12 years -- food runner/busser, waiter, barback, bartender, shift manager, interim general manager, bar manager, you name it. I very much enjoyed the work for a long time, even once being featured as one of Boston’s most beloved bartenders in the Improper Bostonian magazine in 2009.
But I always yearned to return to the computer industry. Finally, in 2014 with a lot of support from my family and a great example from my twin brother, I returned to college to earn my undergraduate degree in Computer Science. A year after starting school back up I was hired by Cogito as a Software Engineer Co-op. I attended school at Boston University Metropolitan College at night and worked at Cogito full-time during the day. I finally graduated with top honors from BU in 2017. I am currently continuing this rigorous schedule pursuing my Master’s in Computer Science, also at BU Met. I will be graduating this coming May.
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
For sure, my perspective has been a great benefit to me. It allows me to stay balanced and focus on the things I love to do: write software; learn challenging, new things; and work closely with other people. It doesn’t hurt that I enjoy academics, specifically math and science. And all of the skills that I learned through many years of service are quite useful even though they were honed outside of the tech industry.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Software Engineer at Cogito?
My team and I are responsible for the main application sold by Cogito -- Dialog. We are responsible for taking the ideas and specifications given to use by the Product department and turning them into the beautiful, cutting edge applications that we sell to enterprise customers to make people’s lives better.
Any tips for someone considering a career in Engineering?
If you’re interested and have a passion for it, go for it! Especially if you have a unique way of thinking about solving problems. Software Engineering is a very broad field and requires a variety of different skills. Of course, a strong foundation in software design and languages is required. But you also need to be creative, be able to think abstractly and be capable of producing concrete results.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
I go for tea and decaf coffee.
What time do you get into the office?
Whenever my earliest meeting is scheduled, otherwise 10 AM.
What are three things that motivate you in your role?
I love solving problems.
I love writing software.
I love interacting with people smarter than I am.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
After logging in in the morning and checking mail, I begin the day with some team meetings. In the middle of the day, I spend as much time as I can at my desk coding and discussing technical stuff (that’s the technical term) with colleagues or video chat meetings. Later in the day, I might present at or attend architectural meetings to more broadly discuss concepts related to the work I’m doing.
What time do you head out of the office?
School days I have to be out with enough time to get to class, so about 5 PM.
On non-school days, often 6:30 PM but sometimes later
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I tend to shut it down completely unless there’s an extremely important issue that needs immediate attention and can’t be handled by someone else. I may still do some reading about or experimenting with some technology that I’m interested in, but tend to like to partition my work from my home life. It’s important to me to keep a good balance (mostly through playing some video games).
Any productivity hacks?
Get to the point where your development environment is like an extension of your body. I used Emacs for some 20 years and am heavily keyboard dependent. An interactive command-line is my second home. Both have served me well for a long time. Recently I’ve also found that I need to be deft with the mouse. Modern IDE’s are incredibly powerful pieces of software that can really boost your output.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
Slack, Gmail, and IntelliJ.
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
It still has to be finishing a really complex implementation of an audio visualization algorithm for our old Java desktop client a number of years ago. I fell flat on my face and spent nearly 12 hours for each of two days straight in the office working with the CTO to get it fixed so it could be delivered to customers. The experience taught me a lot about myself and about software development in general. And it was a damn good looking visualization that I got to port to our web application when we transitioned away from the Java client.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
I both admire and ask for professional advice from my teammates, my immediate manager, and family for sure.
Images courtesy of Cogito and Jimmy Goddard