How I learned Software Engineering by starting a company while in college

Sam Borick is a Computer Scientist and Entrepreneur who loves solving problems and making computers do the hard work. Sam served as CTO of HungerPerks, an Akron area tech startup, where he built and maintained a mobile application. Sam holds a degree in Computer Science from The University of Akron.  Sam currently works as a freelance developer, leveraging his business experience to craft effective software.

I am an extraordinarily lucky individual. My main interest is crafting software that help people, and I happen to live in an economy where that is highly valued. But that doesn’t tell my whole story. How did I get here?

I recently graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from The University of Akron. While I was at UAkron I learned all about Computer Science as a science, but I was always left wanting for something more. I wanted to get practice at building something useful.

I started stirring around in the local entrepreneurship scene, first participating in a pitch competition, and continuing to stir around from there. I ended up meeting who would become my co-founders of HungerPerks.

By the time I entered my second semester as a junior, I found myself CTO and sole developer of HungerPerks.com, a brand new company that needed a product, and I was the only one who had any idea of how to build it.

HungerPerks was a mobile application for consumers that would let them take short surveys in exchange for getting free food. This would drive traffic to local restaurants, and hopefully earn us a good amount of money.

I know vaguely what we would need, a mobile app, a web app to manage stuff, and a server to tie it all together. However, I’d never really built any of these things, and certainly never got them to work together all at once.

So I dove in. I googled around, and tried to make good guesses on how to move forward. And I did- slowly, poorly, but I did. Two months later we had a thing. It looked really bad and barely worked, but it worked just well enough to launch.

And we kept going. I kept building new features, we kept talking to customers to see what they liked, what they didn’t like, and we kept pushing forward.

In the end, it didn’t pan out. We ran out of money and interest, and we all moved on to better things. I came out of that job with experience in Ionic2+, Golang, AWS, a deep understanding of how to build stuff that people want, and supporting applications in general.

Currently I work at a consulting company (which I also founded) building apps for people who need them. I didn’t really get my job, I built it.

I think a lot of people go into the world and try and find a how-to manual. Or they try and get everything they will need out of their university experience. I want to make it clear that the skills I needed aren’t taught inside universities’, they can really only be gotten by doing stuff.

If you want to get into writing software really well, go and write some software. You don’t need anyone’s permission, but if you want some, you have mine. Go, take whatever idea you have and build a bad version of it. Then make it better, and keep trying until it’s great.

I’ve realized that the formatting or length of your resume doesn’t really matter if there’s cool and useful stuff on it. Personally, I use Stack Overflow’s developer stories (mine is at https://stackoverflow.com/cv/borick) because it makes it easy to add something whenever I do something new. But the best resume advice I have is to try and construct your life so that you no longer need a resume. The side effect is that your resume will look awesome.

I love to chat with people about this kind of thing, so if you have any questions, please reach out to me on twitter @mibzman.  I also frequently write articles on medium, please consider checking them out at https://medium.com/@mibzman

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