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Developers don’t always start their careers with a traditional Computer Science degree. Nolan Seaton, a Senior Developer at Digital Telepathy, spent time learning both 3D modeling and graphic design before settling into his current role. Read our interview with Seaton to learn how he got into coding, what he loves about his job at an agency, and what he sees happening to technology in the future.  

When and how did you get started programming?

Coming out of high school, I was trying to find a career that would mix my artistic side with my passion for technology. I thought that was 3D modeling, but during my time in that program I found myself more drawn to Photoshop and Illustrator, so I switched tracks to graphic design. During my graphic design program, I was looking for ways to promote myself, and an online portfolio was a must. It was during this that I fell in love with development and started spending my free time learning different coding languages.

Tell us a little bit about your current role. What does a typical day look like for you?

My typical day as a Senior Developer at Digital Telepathy usually involves a lot of Rails/Javascript/CSS in a wide variety of client sites. I'm usually directly communicating with clients for around 1-2 hours a day through meetings and email. There are some coffee breaks and Mario Kart sprinkled in throughout the day too, both of which are a key part of my company’s culture. 

What are the unique challenges you face as a Senior Developer?

Technology moves fast, and it can be a challenge staying up to date on the hot new framework, but that is also a large part of the appeal for me.

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Tell us a bit about your previous roles and how they lead the path for where you are today.

My first role out of college was working in Chicago at a traditional midsize agency as a design/developer intern doing a lot of Flash-based sites and email campaigns. I bounced around to a couple more agencies in Chicago, sliding more into a development role and riding the rise and death of Flash. With the end of Flash looming, I transitioned into more Front-end development with some touchscreen kiosks and Adobe Air apps sprinkled in. In 2010, I decided to move back to San Diego and did the freelance thing for a while, building a lot of WordPress and Drupal sites through local agencies, but was always hesitant to jump back into the agency culture until I came across Digital Telepathy. They seemed to have found a way past a lot of the issues I saw with agency life and was immediately interested in joining the team. Now that I’m on board, I can say that I was right, it’s a unique company to work for, and I’m really enjoying it. 

What’s your favorite part of being a developer?

Making things, the mental gymnastics, and the satisfaction of building apps that improve a person's experience or make their life a little easier.

What has been your experience applying to jobs, interviewing, and working with recruiters?

I feel I have been pretty lucky with the connections I’ve made throughout my career, and a lot of those connections have influenced the moves I’ve made in my field. It’s been rare that I have applied to a place that I didn’t already know someone or worked with in the past, so it’s made the hiring process fairly low impact.

What’s something you wish employers knew about developers?

Developers have a lot to offer outside of the code. Bring them into your projects early and often. We spend a lot of time interfacing with apps and devices and can bring a lot of great ideas to the table.

Where do you see the world of technology in 10 years?

I’m starting to see a lot more developers with design experience and vice versa. I think this is going to greatly improve UX and lead us down more natural/analog interactions with technology. I think we are also going to see a lot more tech that is more collaborative as more and more people are turned off by the isolating nature of smartphones and online experiences.

You can keep up with Nolan on Instagram and learn more about Digital Telepathy on Twitter.

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