Tech Spotlight: Dane Schoonover
Dane Schoonover is a talented Software Developer Consultant with a deep appreciation of tech, software writing, and, like any other Seattlie-ite – coffee! Dane is originally from the “South”, as he says it, growing up and spending much of his life in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia. He studied Mechanical Engineering and Military Science at the University of Alabama, Huntsville as well as Computer Science from at Oregon State University. Dane also served in the military in Korea in operations!
While Dane has experienced many different places in the world, he really enjoys Washington for “the best coffee he’s ever had at a local coffee shop where he lives”, the epic terrain, climate, people, and the booming tech scene.
We chatted with Dane about software development, success and obstacles, and who inspires him.
Describe a day in the life of a Software Developer Consultant.
Each day typically starts off with continuing work from the day before or picking up new work from a "backlog". The backlog is basically a detailed to-do list that serves as the source of truth for developer priorities. For our daily stand-up, the team meets at 10 a.m., and literally stands up while having the meeting. I'm not certain why we actually stand up. I think at some point a joke was made and it just stuck. Normally the last person to stand up is given the honor of speaking first. Those not at the office join in via Google Hangouts - free VTC! Each engineer takes a few minutes to explain what they worked on the day before, what they are working on that day, and any potential issues they are facing. Issues are usually discussed, and if more time is necessary, a break out meeting takes place after stand-up. The weather and traffic are most likely discussed as well. After that, the rest of the day involves code code code, and the occasional meeting with other colleagues or clients.
What is your favorite part about working in software development?
My favorite part is working with new technology. I get a lot of satisfaction from building things that offer value, and new tech is almost always involved in achieving that. New tech also broadens my knowledge and thus my ability to problem solve. Programmer memes are a close second as a favorite!
Tell us a bit about your experience in the military in Korea.
Korea was my first assignment and definitely my favorite. It was also my first time away from the United States. While I was there, I worked in operations in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that borders North and South Korea. Our main job was to provide security to any non-Koreans that visited the DMZ. This included everyone from tourists, to foreign heads of state and even the US President! It was very exciting and quite a privilege to serve there. We worked alongside the South Korean military as well as many other nations, sharing hard work, knowledge, traditions and of course lots of Soju (a clear, colorless distilled beverage that is usually consumed “neat”, its alcohol content varies from about 16.8% to 53%!!!). I have many fond memories from my time there.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your time working in technology?
Technology documentation. Learning technology from its documentation is part of the job, and almost a daily occurrence. It may come as a surprise, but documentation can be incomplete and difficult to understand at times. There is even an industry that is built on filling in the gaps and improving upon tech docs.
What piece of advice would you want to give to young professionals?
If you haven't already, become a learning machine. Bake it into your being. Learn things today so you can solve tomorrow's problem. It is important for success in software development.
What are a few of your hobbies that you enjoy outside of work?
It may sound strange, but I spend a lot of time writing software outside work. It's a real pleasure to build things that other people need or want. My latest passion is a web-teleconferencing app that students around the U.S. are using to compete in debate competitions. This particular app is transforming a sport that is traditionally exclusive and expensive, into one that is inclusive and affordable. Outside of that, I spend my spare time helping build the local tech scene and trying to break personal fitness records.
How do you define success?
Success in software is a moving target. It is a combination of working optimally, making good decisions faster, learning constantly and sharing the knowledge gained with both colleagues and the software community. Maintaining this trajectory has borne a lot of fruit for me both in career development and happiness.
Who inspires you?
Elon Musk. He's a human with a purpose and consistently pushes the frontiers of tech, innovation and the human mind. Can't wait to buy a ticket to Mars one day!