Nortal Spotlight: David Flegal

May 6, 2020

Our Nortal Spotlight series continues with an interview from David Flegal, one of our talented Software Developers. Read our interview with him below.

How did you get into software engineering?

“My dad is an electrical engineer so I grew up around computers. When I was younger my dad taught me how to use visual basic. My dad and I would make some games in visual basic and from there I started working on bigger games. When I got older I started using the unity game engine which progressed into web development because I didn’t want to be a professional game developer.”

What were the first technologies that you worked with when you got into software?

“As a hobbyist I was working with game development software. Professionally, I was teaching programming at elementary schools. The company I was working for at the time had me do some development for them where we used PHP and wordpress. That was the first professional stack that I used.”

Which technologies are your favorite to work with? Which ones are your least? 

“My favorite technologies to work with are Python and Django which is fortunate because those are in the project I am on now. I like Django because you can make things so fast. If you have an idea for a program or API, you are able to get a prototype up quickly while making development super easy. My least favorite would be Java because it feels like legacy technology that is stagnated.”

Can you walk us through a typical day on your current project?

“We have our daily stand up in the morning and then from there it’s grabbing a story off of JIRA and getting to work. For most of the stories, we need to have a pretty open dialogue with the San Francisco team we are working with. Throughout the day I am in meetings or talking with San Francisco colleagues; I really like meeting new team members and getting their opinions on programming. I love my manager, Neal Engel’s,  jokes.”

Which traits do you think are the most important for success in software consulting?

“Adaptability is not necessarily technology but things like project management and teams. You need to be able to read the room and get into the flow of other teams pretty often. That can be hard for people that are set in their ways. The low hanging fruit would be communication, especially right now. You are going to have to over communicate, especially with people that you don’t know and the developers of the client to establish good relationships in a short period of time. This allows people to feel more comfortable talking to you.”

What does an ideal project look like for you?

“The one I’m on is pretty close. We are using Django, which I really enjoy. I have great managers, Nathan and Neal – I love those guys. To make it better, I just wish that we could work sometimes in a physical space together.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? What is the most rewarding?

“The most rewarding is the people. I love working with the Nortal team – it’s great management through and through. There aren’t enough good things about how Nortal treats its employees. Working with the San Francisco team is really interesting.

The challenging aspect is communication in general with everyone in quarantine. You need to work in the domain space that you need to be in.”

What advice can you give to somebody looking to get started with their software engineering career? Looking into consulting?

“To get started in the software world, you are going to have to do some self practice for a bit. If you don’t have a degree you need to learn and build up your foundational skills all on your own. That comes with motivation and the drive to learn. There are a lot of ways to self educate. One thing is to realize that it’s fun. If you look at it like a job and means to an end then you will have a harder time than if you are passionate about.

I would recommend consulting because you get exposed to technologies in a much shorter period of time than if you were at a start-up or big corporation. Communication in consulting is important because you need to be able to express yourself. There is going to be constant change, so you need to roll with the punches. That comes back to adaptability and making the best of any situation.”

What has been your favorite project to work on so far?

“I’m on my second project at Nortal. My previous project was very fun because the team was fully staffed with the Nortal employees. It was almost like going to hang out in a room filled with computers and your friends.”

What’s your favorite Nortal memory?

“I will always remember my first Nortal Christmas party. I had been less than a week or two so I was pretty new. I will never forget that somebody suddenly came out of an office in an inflatable T-Rex costume. It was awesome! Now that I’ve been here I wouldn’t find it as surprising but it was hilarious.”

What are some successful strategies you are using to stay focused on projects while working remotely? 

“For me, there are a few things that work. It’s easier for me to get in the zone at home than in the office. However, I will sit at my desk for hours and often forget to take a break so I set timers to remind myself to get up. If you have the option to stand up while working then that really improves focus too.”

What’s your favorite hobby outside of work that you can still do inside?

“Game development is still a hobby that I enjoy. I also like to play board games with my wife, especially one called Quoridor because it’s perfect for two people. I’ve also been branching out my cooking skills with different recipes and learning all the ways I can exercise my dog inside.”

To learn more about David you can visit his LinkedIn. If you want to find out more about life at Nortal head to our website.

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