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Q&A with Senior React Developer, Jean-Marc McGhee

Waracle
9th August 2021
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https://waracle.com/blog/web/qa-with-senior-react-developer-jean-marc-mcghee/

Hi Jean-Marc, to kick things off, tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! I am Jean-Marc McGhee, a Senior React Developer here at Waracle.

As a JavaScript/Typescript Developer for five years, I’ve been on all sides of the development stack including the creation of APIs, database scripting with PostgreSQL, integrations with IoT devices and Cloud solutions using AWS. My development experience has been in a variety of sectors such as recruitment, health tech, financial services and digital marketing.

What do you do at Waracle?

I develop front end solutions for clients using Typescript and React. Currently, I am working with Sainsbury’s Bank and Argos for an upcoming credit product. 

What aspects of your new role do you enjoy most?

I’m really enjoying working with a good team of peers and collaborating to create good code patterns. I also like the amount of autonomy I am given doing remote work and the good work culture. 

How did you find the recruitment and onboarding process at Waracle?

I found the interview process quick, the code test was fun to do and Waracle was quick to come back with a response. Onboarding was very well organised and the team was really helpful if I had any questions.

Having initially studied Biological Sciences, what sparked your drive to become a software engineer?

After my course, I realized that while learning and studying about the inner workings and building blocks of life was interesting, there was always something missing in the discipline of Biology for me. 

Since I now had time to do some self-discovery, I tried a few things to figure out what I wanted to do. 

I did some voluntary non-profit work, became a chef for a small time and after going through a few other options nothing seemed to fit.  

Then back in 2015, I went to a website workshop and soon realised I really enjoyed creating things through code. This gave me the motivation to go to a code boot camp at General Assembly in London and make it a career. The rest is history.

As a full-stack engineer, what layer of the solution stack interests you most and why?

While I am interested in things like streaming servers and APIs in the backend, if I had to choose, it would be the front end layer of the solution stack. My reason is that you can see your work alive in front of you and with how powerful packages like react-three-fibre are, you can be very creative and make some amazing things.

Can you tell us about your favourite project that you have worked on?

In my job at Silver Arrow Systems, I worked on a Kiosk solution that worked with client-facing software written in React and worked on AWS cloud architecture to print new or lost bank debit cards with a QR code generated by a PWA written in Ionic React. 

What I loved about the project was I was given a lot of room to innovate software on all layers of the solution, had a good team and worked with a variety of IoT devices such as dynamic LED lighting and a specialized QR scanner.

What has been your biggest career challenge and success so far?

My biggest challenge was that at one of my previous jobs where we had to have a PWA demo app completed within a week to be completed before it was shown to a client to demo our Kiosk, that would have taken a month to do. It took a lot of hard work but I had completed the majority of that application by myself (75%+ of the app) and coordinated the rest of the work being finished by the two remote junior developers within the deadline.

My biggest success I would say is the culmination of all my hard work that has allowed me to advance from a Junior Developer to a Senior Developer within two and half years. 

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in software development?

If you have little to no experience in programming, I would recommend doing some tutorials on a site like https://www.freecodecamp.org/ and learn the basics.

If you have some programming experience and want to brush up on your problem solving, I would recommend https://www.codewars.com/.

Then build things with those skills! Doesn’t matter what it is but it should be something that helps you learn something new or addresses a personal need. It also helps build a portfolio if you are looking for your first job.

Outside of work, what is your favourite way to spend your free time?

Hard to say! I can’t choose one so I’ll give you three of them:

  • I am a big believer in continuous learning so I always have an audiobook or a youtube video on a new topic or cooking recipe in the background.
  • Mentoring new programmers on the weekends.
  • I picked up playing the piano for a New Year’s resolution and have been really enjoying it.

Where do you see yourself over the next few years?

Looking forward to continuing to create front end solutions for interesting clients and hopefully, going on to lead development in them in the process.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions Jean-Marc, it is very much appreciated. 

At Waracle, we pride ourselves on hiring the best talent possible and are truly dedicated to building a thriving company culture. If you’d like to join our brilliant team, check out our careers page for current vacancies.