Our next interviewee won not one but TWO awards at our annual Holiday party this year! He’s the company-voted winner of the “Always Got Your Back” award, and the “It’s Your Business” award to celebrate his demonstrated empathy for his coworkers and outstanding ownership with his work. Both empathy and ownership are 2/3s of Demac’s company values , making this Demacian a highly-prized team member.
Name: Devan Hurst
Role: Workarea Software Developer
Time served at Demac: 1 year, 9 months
1. How did you find Demac or how did Demac find you?
I was first introduced through Bitmaker, a web development bootcamp I took part in that partners with Demac. After graduating, I stepped away from web development to look into chatbots and wrote a bot that could play Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes with me. One of my classmates sent a gameplay video I recorded to his friend who worked at Demac at the time, they called me in for an interview, and the rest is history.
2. What’s your work-day beverage of choice? What’s your Friday afternoon beverage of choice?
A software developer is just a machine that converts coffee into code. I take it black. If I need some “inspiration,” sipping on tequila does the job.
3. How would you explain your job/role to a 5 year old?
I make websites that let you buy things.
4. How do you explain what you do to your parents?
I make websites that let you buy things. Yes, it’s safe to use your credit card online. Yes, you can still return things if you don’t like them.
5. Demac is a flexible workplace….what hours of the day (or night!) do you prefer to work or get your best work done?
The earlier I start, the better. I’m definitely at my best if I’m at work by 8am. If I’m working from home, I typically start at 7.
6. What did you study in school? Is it relevant to what you do now?
I specialized in psycholinguistics at University of Toronto studying how the human brain processes language. It’s not terribly relevant to the work I do right now, but I find that linguistics and software development require similar ways of thinking. I did take just shy of a minor in computer science as well, so that has certainly helped.
7.What song are you loving at the moment to listen to while you work? (or which was the last song played on your Spotify?)
When I work I have trouble listening to anything with English lyrics, so I lean towards instrumental, typically electronic and ambient in some way. (I’m no good at identifying genre.) M|O|O|N is great for that.
8. What meme/gif/video makes you laugh the most?
That changes with the tides, but this one comes to mind.
9. What’s your favourite site to buy from? / Which eCommerce site do you think is amazing?
(Don’t say Amazon. Don’t say Amazon.) My favourite site to buy from is Monoprice for its sheer practicality and value. Anyone who buys an HDMI cable anywhere else is a sucker; Just make sure you buy in bulk, their shipping charges hurt. But, Monoprice doesn’t blow my socks off; Redbubble does. They do custom-printed merch that’s all user-uploaded. Since anyone can upload a design, the size of their selection is unlike any other. I doubt that the auto-generated product thumbnails are going to blow any customers away, but as a developer I’m totally impressed by that feature.
10. How do you balance work and life? / What do you like to do after you leave the office?
I’ve been watching quiz shows and playing trivia games since I can remember, so I go to pub quizzes pretty frequently, at least once a week – every Wednesday at Sneaky Dee’s. I also take part in an online trivia league called LearnedLeague. Anyone who’s anyone in the trivia world plays… also anyone who’s no one, like myself.
11. What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
I’m really into watching UK quiz and panel shows. We don’t really use the phrase “panel show” in North America anymore; think of them like game shows where comedians play for points and win nothing but the pride of having the cleverest jokes. That said, there’s one called Taskmaster that everyone should give a shot.
12. What do you love about working at Demac?
Everyone that works at Demac has each other’s back, and I appreciate that more than anything. Whenever I need help, there’s no shortage of raised hands.
13. Do you live Demac’s values in your everyday life? (Empathy, Creativity, Ownership)
At the very least, I can say that I try to live by all these values. I think everybody does. Let’s talk ownership, though; that’s the one I still try to be mindful of. I try to make sure that everyone knows when I’ve screwed up. I could just as well hide my mistakes and try to fix them myself — or worse, try to assign blame — but publicizing my failures always leads to quicker resolutions. Sharing my mistakes also strengthens the memory of them happening at all, so I’m less likely to repeat them. Making a habit of it hurts at first, but it’s one of the best habits I made as a junior developer.
14. What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to shopping online/in stores/etc.
When you’re running an online business, your shipping time quotes better be correct. The only thing that drives me to shop in-person nowadays is being able to receive the product instantly. If a site promises one-week delivery, but delivers in two, I won’t be back.
15. What have you done at Demac that you’re most proud of?
It isn’t much, but early on in 2016 when I first started here I worked on an integration with a third-party loyalty card program. It was actually the first time I’d worked in-depth with an external API. It ended up becoming my own task and, while I’m sure I’d design it much better today, I’m still rather proud of it. (It’s that, or when David Philip and I hosted a pub quiz in the office. Good times.)