What is your name and job title? Matt Long, Information Technology Specialist – Application Developer; Denver Service Center Information Management Division.
What experience and education do you have? I have a bachelor of business administration in Managerial Sciences and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Upon graduating college, I joined the active duty Army and was stationed as an Air Defense Artillery - PATRIOT Missile operator overseas. After being discharged from active duty, I decided to follow my passion for working with computers. I accepted a position as an IT Specialist / Project Manager with the US Army Corps of Engineers and then later a position with the Veteran’s Affairs, National Surgery Office, to design and help build an organ transplant application used by physicians to submit veterans for an organ transplant.
What is a typical day like? Once the design for the application is finalized by the project owner and all of the tasks are outlined the work is mostly solitary. Most of the day you will find me plugged into my headphones and writing or testing computer code for desktop applications or web applications. I mostly work as a full-stack web developer which means I design and build everything from the relational database models (database administration), to the application back-end, and finally to the front-end of the application which provides users with an intuitive interface. The rest of my time is spent modifying and updating legacy applications.
What career advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar path?
I would encourage others that may have a passion for development to dig into some developer code samples that are offered for free from the Microsoft Developer Network. Pluralsight.com also offers some great free tutorials and instructor led classes that are fairly in-depth. Pursuing a degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering will help build a good foundation, but there really is no substitute for experience in this field. There are a lot of great developers out there that have broad technical experience and degrees in completely unrelated fields (myself included), but generally share a passion for being able to take something apart, figure out how it works, make it better, and rebuild it. They should also have a thirst for learning as the development field is changing every day and staying on top of the new technologies and languages is essential.
What is one of the bigger projects you are working on and what about that project might surprise people? I’m currently working on a project for the Technical Information Center. The project is a web application called eTIC and will have two versions: a public facing website and an internal version. The public facing website will present users with a mobile-friendly, Google-like search interface that will allow the general public, for the first time, to search through nearly 40,000 historical National Park images, drawings, documents, and photos. Users will be able to view, download, print, and share the information with others - all from within the application. The internal facing website will have all of the same features as the public facing website, but in addition, users will have access to over 400,000 records and the ability to purchase hard copies of the records through a shopping cart system.