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From Baseball to Beacon: How a Sports Writer Became a Coder

In many ways, crafting a newspaper article is similar to coding a UI. Sound a little far fetched? Believe me. I’ve done both.

Yes, before I joined Beacon’s Glint team, I was a sportswriter for Newsday. I peered into my future back in 2017 and determined I would prefer a career in a growing industry rather than a shrinking one. Little did I know I would wind up working for a company poised to be an industry leader for years to come.

Many of my childhood dreams came true in my three years as a professional journalist. I interviewed MLB legends such as Mariano Rivera and Pete Rose. I got paid to write about college basketball -- something I had done as a hobby since high school. Seeing my byline in the newspaper never got old.

But for many reasons, I decided sports writing was not the long-term career I wanted. So I started teaching myself to code. I got hooked once I realized becoming a developer would not require sacrificing the creativity, precision, and attention to detail I had cultivated as a writer.

When writing a story, you usually have a space constraint -- a word count. You also often have a subject on which you’ve already written several times, such as a 1-0 soccer match or a high school pitcher throwing a shutout. Yet every story needs to be different. You have the same building blocks for each one -- the beginning, middle and end; the quotes; the statistics -- but you decide how to assemble the pieces to make a unique product.

Coding isn’t so different. At Beacon, the Glint team uses the popular frontend framework React to build our UIs. Just like a story, React provides building blocks. There are lifecycle methods that fire at different moments during a component’s time on the screen. There are properties, which you can pass to the component to change its appearance. But you decide how to make everything fit together -- and then how to beautify the product with a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS).

In a way, this same concept of taking typical building blocks and making a unique product applies to Beacon as well.

Other vendors sell trading and risk applications, for instance. However, Beacon is the only company that also provides clients access to source code, a developer platform, and infrastructure services, which enables them to fully own their technology stack.

Beacon has done a tremendous job assembling a team of talented developers. But what separates this company, in my opinion, is a top-down approach of evaluating prospective employees as people, too.

Many companies would never consider a software engineer application from a former sportswriter with a coding boot camp certificate instead of a CS degree. Beacon, on the other hand, came to Fullstack Academy’s networking day seeking boot camp graduates with diverse backgrounds like me and my Glint teammate Kevin Ho, a former professional dancer.

I know I’m a different breed of software engineer. Takes one to know one, I guess, because Beacon is different, too.


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