Built to Last: Naomi Dennis Develops a Brighter Future through Software

A little over a year into her career as a software developer, New York City-based Naomi Dennis felt herself longing for projects that placed a higher priority on the quality and longevity of her work. Despite working on rewarding humanitarian projects and an interesting home improvement startup, she wasn’t writing software that was meant to last.

Naomi
Name: Naomi Dennis
Location: New York City
Time at 8th Light: 2 years
Time in the industry: 3.5 years

“The biggest pain point was code stability,” Naomi said. “I had heard about good software design very briefly before 8th Light, as well as testing. But, I hadn’t really implemented code with SOLID principles, or worked on a team that took testing seriously.”

Naomi’s pain points are familiar to many software professionals. “Those startup projects were all about getting to the next build to show investors,” she said. “It is understandable, but it gets tiring after a while.”

After hearing about 8th Light at a networking event, she applied to the apprenticeship program and began focusing on building software that will endure.

From Startup Code Sprints to Large-Scale Connections

From her first day, Naomi says she felt a difference in working as an 8th Light software crafter. For her initial project, she joined a team building a distributed web application that handles live video conferencing, limited social networking, and appointment scheduling for doctors and surgeons from around the world to collaborate. When the team discussed the system architecture during a meeting, she remembers talking about “request and response middleware and how we wanted to separate the data layers and the repository layers without depending on TypeORM.” This conversation helped Naomi unlock a new way of thinking about code. “This was incredibly eye-opening, because I had heard of the different layers, but I never connected what it would look like if we actually had to compartmentalize it in code without relying on a third-party library or framework.”

Naomi already had developed the skills required to dive into a codebase and deliver quality solutions. She had experience developing a production-ready backend and data queries while working for a startup that matches contractors with requests for work. She also had extensive frontend experience while helping a nonprofit build websites for humanitarian projects. But it wasn’t until she joined 8th Light that she began to make more large-scale connections across different abstractions and layers in software systems. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is to look at software as a series of behaviors separate from the language, rather than trying to figure out what every little line of code means.

Naomi has felt a difference in how she writes code. “I think I actually deliver code a bit slower than I used to, but once the code is written it’s easy to change and doesn’t break easily,” she explained. “Before 8th Light, I could write code quickly, but identifying errors and expanding the functionality of the code took a lot of time. Since working at 8th Light, I don’t really feel the pressure to deliver everything super quickly, but I do feel pressure to deliver quality code, write tests (or convince the client it’s a good idea to add tests), to point out areas where the team could improve, and to mentor those that seem inexperienced.

Career Growth in Cybersecurity

Empowered by the new breadth of her perspective, Naomi now sees a clearer path toward achieving her goal of becoming specialized in cybersecurity.

“My interest in cybersecurity sparked years ago,” she said. “I started learning more about it in high school by experimenting with things I found on the forum of hackthissite.org.” It was there where she learned about penetration testing and reverse engineering, and began pursuing cybersecurity more seriously. “Because of its range, I was unsure where to start. In college, I started learning more about cryptography and really basic ways to find vulnerabilities in certain systems, such as networks.”

This year, Naomi has her dedicated Learning and Development time to work toward short-term goals, like earning the Network+ certification. Although her long-term goals are still undefined, she knows there are opportunities within 8th Light to continue growing her skills. “I’m hoping to get more involved in internal community groups, like the cloud engineering guild and the security Slack channel,” she said.

Passion for Video Games and the Outdoors

Outside of 8th Light, Naomi is interested in the video game industry. “As I’ve gotten older, it’s become less about playing the video games, and more about keeping up with industry news, and studying their animations, engines, and mechanics.”

Over the past year, she’s also spent more time outdoors. “Currently, I’ve gotten into bouldering, hiking, and running. In October 2021, I actually ran my first 5k!” she said. “I’m looking forward to this winter. I had gotten into snowboarding the winter before the pandemic and couldn’t do it last year.”

Learn more about Careers at 8th Light.

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