Meet Brian Kowalski, one of our Senior Web Developers, who has been with us since 2019. In his role, he works on a US Army Project on their internal web-based interment management system.
Let's meet Brian and discuss his insights regarding the web development field of expertise.
Brian, can you tell us about your background and how you got into the field of web development like?
I enjoyed programming so much that I finally started a career in software development with a company that created library automation software […]
I have always enjoyed working with and for the military. As a kid going to air shows with my parents, then in the 1980's, as a member of the Air National Guard.
My jobs always included some form of programming. In the Air Guard, I worked on a parts inventory application. As a Production Manager in an architectural glass plant, I worked with a machine that ran on 'c' programs.
I enjoyed programming so much that I finally started a career in software development with a company that created library automation software. A big part of that was their web-based Interlibrary Loan Program. This is what started my path in web-based applications.
I rekindled my relationship with the military by taking a job with the US Coast Guard (USCG), where I worked for over 20 years, creating many web-based applications.
What are the essential skills for a Senior Web Developer to possess, and how do you ensure that you continue to develop these skills over time?
Web development requires knowledge of many technologies, not just at the browser level. To be a senior developer, you must know and understand technologies at every level of the 'stack', starting with databases.
Databases are the core of most applications. We take data from (or save to) the database, query, filter, and massage the data in the server side layer, then present it to the end user in the browser. So you need to understand the entire technology stack. Not just how to present the data to the user, which is what many young aspiring web developers concentrate on.
I have developed code in databases in the form of tables and stored procedures, code in Windows services to process live streams of data, including object positioning messages that were captured, correlated, and stored in a database to be later fetched via service layers, filtered thru security layers and finally presented to the user in a browser.
What do you appreciate about working at Pragmatics?
Pragmatics has several collaboration tools that make working remotely seamless […] has allowed me to work for a company that would otherwise require many hours a day in commute time.
After more than two decades with the USCG, I had the opportunity in 2019 to come to Pragmatics and work on a US Army project, on their internal web-based interment management system. The position was 100% remote even before anyone heard of COVID.
Pragmatics has several collaboration tools that make working remotely seamless. Working from home for Pragmatics has allowed me to work for a company that would otherwise require many hours a day in commute time. My entire team is working remotely, including members I have never personally met but I work with and collaborate with daily. From Northern Virginia to West Virginia to New York State to Colorado. It is important to realize we can work closely as a team even though we are geographically anything but close.
What best advice do you have for people who want to pursue a career in Web Development?
I imagine the best advice I could give anyone looking for a career in web development would be to not limit themselves to "web". Instead, be hungry to learn as many technologies as you can. But to set yourself apart, pay particular attention to your presentation in the UI.
Good developers will check all the boxes in the Acceptance Criteria. Great web developers will make the user experience more than what the customer had hoped for.
Outside work, how do you describe yourself?
I participate every year in fundraising month-long "ride" to raise money to fight kids cancer called "Great Cycle Challenge". I have ridden over 800 miles and raised over $5,500 in the GCC since 2016.
I love canoeing with my kids, grandkids, and family. Living 15 minutes from the Potomac river lets me take several day trips every summer. I also love bike riding, road, trail, and bikepacking for an overnighter on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or a week on the Great Allegheny Passage.
Road riding 500 miles across Iowa in the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is an amazing experience every bike enthusiast should do at least once in a lifetime.
I participate every year in a fundraising month-long "ride" to raise money to fight kids cancer called the "Great Cycle Challenge". I have ridden over 800 miles and raised over $5,500 in the GCC since 2016..