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Mobile App Expert Answers DCCCD Faculty and Student Questions

This article appeared in an August 2016 issue of the student newsletter.  

By Marielle McGregor

Are you preparing to enter the world of mobile apps?  

A career in software development requires a lot more than technical know-how. Studios and agencies alike are looking to hire programmers with both hard and soft skills. A passion to learn is also key. 

I recently sat down with Julian Placino, recruiting lead at Bottle Rocket Studios. Placino answered some of our students' and faculty members' top questions surrounding employment in this lucrative, growing field. 

His biggest piece of employment advice: Create an app and get it in the store.

Where is the demand greater for developers – programming for IOS or Android?
"At Bottle Rocket we have about 100 software engineers, and it splits pretty evenly down the middle. There is a need for both. We like folks to be a master of their craft, so there is not a lot of crossing over between disciplines." 

Is it common for your employees to develop for both? Which languages typically pair with each?
"iOS is written in [the language of] Objective C, which is basically C++. There is a new language called Swift which is making its way into our production code. For Android, it is Java development." 

What internships does Bottle Rocket offer to programming students or recent grads?  
"We have a very popular internship program, and we go on to hire almost 80% of our interns. The season begins in June, and we employ three iOS interns and three Android interns. We don't advertise these paid internships extensively, but rather we input interested programmers into a database when we get pinged. Most of our interns have apps in the App store already. An app is like an artist's portfolio. This is stronger than a certification or degree for us. A real passion for coding is also essential. We look for the people who have their own real development." 

How important are the soft skills in landing (and maintaining) a job as a software developer?  
"Soft skills are critical. Engineers have a stereotype of not having soft skills. But at Bottle Rocket we have a very collaborative environment. Engineers often work in teams … with designers, quality assurance specialists, project managers. It is important to have empathy and the ability to work in a team." 

Should professors continue placing emphasis on group-oriented projects?
"It really depends on what the project is, but in most instances I think it certainly helps. I have been in IT recruiting the past 10 years. Again, working in teams is critical. Engineers do not work alone. You are always part of some type of development team." 

If you were going to take a series of programming courses, what stands out?
"A lot of CS students start with C++ and Java. These languages have historically served as a good programming foundation for engineers." 

Mobile app companies tend to have a fun, relaxed work environment. What should programmers wear to a job interview?
"This really depends on the environment. To be safe, it makes sense to dress business professional or at least business casual if you are unaware of the dress protocol. However, you can always ask the individual who invited you to the interview what the appropriate dress is." 

How important is Java script in your development process? If so, what libraries are you using?
"At Bottle Rocket Studios we do have a few front-end developers. We use angular and Knode JS as well as J-QUERY." 

Do you prefer developers have knowledge of Objective C or Swift, or possibly both?  
“Both. Although most of our production code is Objective-C, Swift is definitely a language that is up and coming.” 

Is Bottle Rocket Studios primarily interested in hiring developers for games, social apps or business apps?  
"We typically don’t hire developers for specific projects. As long as candidates are capable and passionate, we can train them to work on just about anything." 

Is a formal computer science degree preferred/required?  
"No, it is not required. But computer science definitely does breed computer science. Nothing beats prior experience though. Get internships, work for free, get your code out there and understand what it is like to work for a software development team." 

You are known for your community involvement and college boot camps. Would Bottle Rocket be interested in visiting DCCCD next?  
"Yes, we are pretty active in the community. We just did our first boot camp at Texas A&M, and we've done one at UTD and UNT. "

Note: Since this spring interview, Bottle Rocket apps is now working with Brookhaven College to offer a Boot Camp for students this fall.

Go Further

Curious what coding is exactly? Check out this past article from our student newsletter, “Programming: What It Is and Why Anyone Can Do It.

The colleges of DCCCD offer credit classes, certificates and degrees that can help you build your coding skills.