Employee Spotlight: Michael Wilson


Spotlight On:
Michael Wilson – Skateboarder, Programmer, and Unix Wizard

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Michael’s path to full-stack developer has been anything but traditional. He went from boot camp graduate, to apprentice, to a full-time developer in less than a year. He is a self-taught software development maverick with a skillset that seems to get larger every day. We’ve wanted to give him the spotlight for some time, so when the coding boot camp he graduated from moved in next door, we knew it was time.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a full-stack developer. That means I work on the user-facing application known as the front-end and the core application known as the backend. Although I was hired to work on the backend at first, I quickly ended up working full-stack. I’m a 100% homegrown self-taught programmer; software development has been my passion and hobby since I was eleven or twelve years old. I decided I wanted to get a development job, so I attended AcademyPGH – a coding boot camp to make connections, get something on my resume, and learn about the industry.

"I’m a 100% homegrown self-taught programmer; software development has been my passion and hobby since I was eleven or twelve years old."
- Michael Wilson

What brought you to fivestar*?

Michael at AcademySoon after graduating from Academy Pittsburgh, the instructor asked if I was interested in interviewing for an apprenticeship at a software company called fivestar*. I jumped at the opportunity and got the apprenticeship last June. I was brought on full-time just a few months later in September of 2018.

Describe your role as a Web Services Developer at fivestar*.

My responsibilities here are diverse. My role is heavily dependent on the project and other personnel assigned to it. I design database schemas, write code across four languages, two stacks, with a plethora of frameworks, and even do dev-ops for some projects on a variety of platforms. Much of the diversity stems from the different goals and needs of our projects, combined with the skill sets of the other developers on the team. In essence, I see my role as a swiss-army knife.

What is the most impactful project you’ve been a part of at fivestar*?

I was instrumental in the development of the Genelex Self-Service Portal. I wrote most of the backend and even had the opportunity to make a few architectural decisions.

The self-service portal became a fast-growing application where patients could complete an online profile and receive recommendations for pharmacogenetic testing, which resulted in further guidance related to the interactions between their genetics and prescribed medications.

What is your favorite thing about fivestar*?

Riverfront cleanup

My favorite thing about fivestar* is that every day is different and the diversity of my responsibilities is really rewarding.  For example, in one day I have gone from working on a Ruby on Rails project to maintaining ASP.NET web forms to writing SQL scripts to working on an angular app before updating its .NET Core API. Of course, it can make context switching a delicate game, but I like games.

The challenges don’t end with our different projects, it is also challenging to efficiently write in multiple paradigms. My JavaScript leans on the functional side but I’m more object-oriented and imperative with C#, and of course, Ruby on Rails doesn’t allow for any dissent in its application structure.

What is an interesting fact about yourself?

I’m a hardcore Gnu+Linux enthusiast.

AcademyPGH is a Bootcamp for web development serving under-represented groups in technology. AcademyPGH cohorts are 12 weeks long and take members from zero programming knowledge to ready for entry-level developer jobs.

academypgh.com | @academypgh


About the Author: Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is a full-stack developer at fivestar*. He began his development journey at the age of 11 and has taught himself everything he knows. He is a life-long learner and his passion for development has lead him to become an expert across a wide variety of languages and platforms.

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