October 18, 2021

6 Questions With Noah Harris: Memorable Projects, That Special Thing About Teaching, Disney +, and More


Felipe Espinosa

We might be just a bit biased – but we believe there are so many great things about the Nexient culture  it can be difficult to showcase them all. Take our team -- We have so many extraordinary, talented, and interesting tech professionals we want to celebrate every one of them, every day.


… Which brings us to our newest blog feature: Six questions with Nexient teammates who you really need to meet. In this series, we’ll be interviewing some of the amazing individuals behind our mission of developing innovative custom software people love to use.


Let’s welcome our first interviewee, Noah Harris. Noah was actually one of the first people I talked to when I got to Nexient, and he has some great insights and stories to share.


Give us a a quick summary of what you do at Nexient and how you got here


I am currently a Sr. Developer II and Tech Lead at Nexient.


In summer 2019, my wife and I decided to move from South Carolina to Ann Arbor, looking for a new adventure. I was in my search for a new job, and after six months of sending out job applications, resumes, and cover letters—I found what I now consider my unicorn: Nexient.


Here, I work managing the development team in my project, making sure that things are progressing smoothly and ensuring that the project is delivered in a cohesive and timely manner. Teaching other developers to effectively navigate the app development process at an enterprise level is also a big part of my daily responsibilities. Oh, and unsurprisingly, I code too.


What has been your favorite project since joining Nexient?


That’s a tough question because all my projects have had pieces or elements that were super cool and really fulfilling to me.


But I think, overall, my favorite project was the second project I was on. It was a full-stack app where I was familiar with only about 20% of the tech stack going in. I knew the language, and the Database, but I mostly got to work with things I had never used before, like GraphQL andNestJS. This was also my first React project, though with a React-Native background, it wasn’t too tough of a transition.


So, you can say this project really stood out because I liked the team—both my fellow developers and management. Secondly, the tech stack was modern and sexy, and I am all for learning new things. Finally, I felt like I really got to contribute to a large part of it, and I had the flexibility and freedom to implement my parts of the project how I wanted, as long as they fell in the same patterns as the rest of the app.


For me, this experience was special because I got to grow and learn so much, both personally and in the spirit of teamwork.


What's a work moment that made you think, "Wow, I love my job so damn much!"?


In my case, I tend to find myself saying and thinking that I love my job so much when I am teaching and guiding other professionals. My father always said that all the males in my family were either teachers or preachers. And as a kid, I always rolled my eyes and said,“Yeah, sure.”


But it turns out that I do enjoy teaching, and I love working with the developers at Nexient because there is a heavy and intensive learning side to the community here: Everybody wants to learn. And since I am someone who loves to teach—it all works really well together.


More specifically, I enjoy taking teams through the different phases of the team development cycle: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. I love taking a team from that primary phase, where you first get together and don’t know each other; everyone is super excited for what’s coming but scattered in different directions—all the way to the final phase where every team member is working together seamlessly.


All the goals are in alignment, and the whole team is pushing in the same direction. I'm even getting chills while talking about it because it just gets me so pumped. I find there are few professional experiences so enjoyable as working on and with a high-performing team.


What advice would you give other Jr. developers who want to get to the level you’re at?


I have two pieces of advice that are like my go-to answers for this question.


The first one is that you have to read and study with diligence and dedication. Read tech blogs, books, and watch videos; consume all the information you can. The bottom line is that you need to start challenging your understanding of development.


One of my uncles’ favorite sayings is, “The map is not the territory.” In other words, your perspective and what you see is only one version of reality, and that is not the whole picture. You need to gain knowledge from many different sources to build a perspective of what it means to be a developer because there is a lot more to it than just writing code.


My second answer to this question is that you have to have pet projects. The difference between a good developer and a great developer usually comes down to the fact that great developers tend to have personal projects. They work nights and even during the weekends on these projects.


I am definitely not saying that you need to grind Leet Code for hours and hours. Nobody likes to do that. But find an open-source or a project that you're passionate about and start working on it. The idea is that this approach gives you extra hours, extra exposure, extra practice, and extra perspective to build and refine routines and patterns that you find to be effective that you can take back to your professional setting.


There is this theory that says that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. So, if you have personal projects, you're going to hit those 10,000 hours of developing much faster than if you're just doing your professional work. When you find something you’re passionate about, the time just melts away.


What professional challenges are you most looking forward in the next 12 months?


I recently got a career coach who specializes in sales and management. And right now, I am very interested in pursuing those two areas.


And please don't get me wrong, I absolutely love programming. However life is short, or so I'm told, and there are many other things that I want to explore and learn that aren't development-based.


At this point in my life, I kind of feel likeI've “mastered” developing. I'm definitely not saying that I know everything, that would be an asinine assertion. But, I know enough to say that I've mastered it at a level that I am comfortable with. So, in the next 12 months, my goal is to start transitioning out of development and into management, or sales, or both.


Now, I am not completely unfamiliar with the world of sales and management. Before coming to Nexient, I was in the world of startups and small businesses. I even had my own tech company and got to see how much work there is to do: from client acquisition all the way to marketing, sales, development, QA, and everything else. So, I like to think I have some understanding of what it is that I am getting into.


I have also met with some of the Nexient leadership folks just to talk to them. They’re also humans, so it’s not like they’re unreachable. So, I like to sit and have lunch with them and talk about how they got to where they are – simply to broaden my perspective.


Sure, I am a bit nervous. I mean, it's safe to say that I am leaving my comfort zone, which can make anybody feel that way. But I like to think of this feeling of nervousness as a different way of feeling excited about things. So, I am excited to move on. I am excited to learn how to effectively network, sell, and manage. I am excited to fall on my face and learn a whole new set of skills that are way outside my wheelhouse.


What’s a fun fact about you?


I'm so bad at these things that I almost called my mom to ask her for a fun fact about me.


Anyway, what I came up with is that I mainly use my Disney+ subscription to continuously learn and develop my fluency in German. Since I was a kid, I have always had a fascination for the German culture and language. So, now, I am watching those old Disney movies from my childhood in an effort to further my German skills.


“6 Questions With” is a Nexient blog series that spotlights some of our best and most talented team members who are doing great work. Keep an eye out for our next feature to learn more about the #NexientTeam!

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