career

bpholt's picture

Starting Something New

Tomorrow is my first day at Dwolla! After a couple weeks off for Christmas and New Years, I’m excited to get started and learn more about what I’ve gotten myself into. I know Dwolla is a United States-only e-commerce company that provides an online payment system and mobile payments network (thanks, Wikipedia), and I’ve been a customer for a couple years now. I know many of the people I’ll be working with. I don’t yet know specifically what I’ll be working on, and of course there are the typical new workplace concerns regarding the culture and whether the chairs are comfy.

December 23, 2014 was my last day at John Deere. It was a little scary leaving Deere: I’d worked there full-time since graduating from college in 2005, and even spent my summers and winter breaks there as an intern since graduating high school in 2001. I spent time with nine different groups in various roles of increasing responsibilty, writing code in Java, SAS, ABAP, Puppet, JavaScript, Bash scripting, VBA, various JCL/mainframe tooling (as far as I know, Dwolla has no mainframes…), and HTML (and probably some I’m forgetting).

I visited Mexico, Germany, and India on behalf of the company, extended those trips to visit Austria, Switzerland, Scotland, and the UAE, and lived in India for six months. (All my intercontinental travel was in business class, too.) Domestically, I visited New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Austin, Amarillo, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Fort Collins, Omaha, Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Atlanta, the Quad Cities (so many nights in Moline…), Waterloo/Cedar Falls, and several other small towns in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Texas. I regularly visited my alma mater, the University of Illinois, to recruit and present to students on behalf of the company. In India, I saw the Taj Mahal, the Amber Fort of Jaipur, the Ellora Caves, and the Qutb Minar. I spent time in the quaint German resort town of Bad Sooden-Allendorf, the metropolis of Frankfurt, and the university town of Kaiserslautern.

I directly supervised a handful of employees (Sadly, including having to fire one.), managed the work of several offshore teams, and provided architectural direction for projects with hundreds of developers. I represented the company publicly to the press and industry standards groups, and I even met with senior leadership and a member of the Board of Directors. I worked with great people, including some who are now among my best friends, and had some amazing opportunities.

Lots of people have asked me why I left Deere. There wasn’t any one reason, nor was it really driven by the idea of leaving. My friend Jared Dellitt has been encouraging me to make the leap for probably 18 months, and from what I’d heard from him and others that work there, this feels like a great opportunity to try something different, and above all, learn in a new environment. So I’m leaving something familiar for something unknown, in the hopes that I learn and grow (and thrive) in a new environment. Dwolla is a much smaller company—from 60,000 employees to 60—with a much greater focus on software and growth. It’s a startup that has been around for about four years, as opposed to an established manufacturing concern founded in 1837. I’ll be working with staff in Des Moines and San Francisco, potentially relocating to the Bay Area in a few months as well. I will meet a new circle of colleagues, and hopefully, through them, meet others in the broader community. I’ll be learning an entirely new technology stack, primarily Scala and C#. I can’t wait to get started!

bpholt's picture

Moving to Des Moines

I haven’t been able to say anything until recently, but I can now confirm that I accepted a new job as a Senior Software Developer (tech lead) at Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group in Urbandale, Iowa. I can’t say much about the actual job, but suffice it to say that I’m very excited about the position (although maybe a little less excited about moving to Des Moines). 

It was way back at the end of September when I interviewed for the position, and I knew that the other applicants were also very qualified. In fact, my good friend Jason VanGundy also applied for the job, so I was a little concerned about it being awkward if one of us got the job. Luckily, though, it turned out that the hiring manager actually needed two people, and we both were hired. Our mutual friend Matt Travi has been on the team for at least a year now, so it will be great working with those guys.

Living in Des Moines will be a change. I definitely won’t be able to make it to as many Illini basketball and football games, since the drive to Des Moines will add about six hours to the round trip. I’ll miss having Mom and Dad nearby, too. But I have family out there, too, and a number of friends, and Illinois looks pretty good in HD.

As I weighed the pros and cons of accepting the offer, I was pretty surprised as how hard it was to make the decision. I knew the position would be great but I just wasn’t sure I wanted to move. It occurred to me that I hadn’t struggled with a decision like that since deciding to go to Ireland in college, so hopefully this turns out just as well as that did.

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