Behind the Code: Q&A with senior developers Jacob, Kevin, and Kyle

Author information: Lily Veale , Senior Marketing Executive , Post information: , 5 min read ,
Related post categories: Wagtail , Culture ,

Over the last two years, our tech team has rapidly grown in size! I recently caught up with three of our Developers, Jacob, Kevin, and Kyle, to find out more about their careers, what it’s like to be part of our senior tech team, and their advice for other developers looking to apply to Torchbox.

Senior developers, Jacob Kevin and Kyle
Jacob, Kevin, and Kyle

Can you start by telling me about your career and when you started at Torchbox?

Jacob - I joined Torchbox four years ago after completing my master's in Physics. While pursuing a PhD, I realised my passion for coding and decided to shift my career focus. With a background in Python, I started as a Junior Developer four years ago and worked my way up to Senior Developer.

Kevin - I first discovered Torchbox six years ago through Drupal. Following a lengthy interview with the tech team in the beautiful Oxfordshire office, I had a call from co-founder Tom, who told me I’d got the job. I was so excited!

Kyle - I worked almost exclusively with Wagtail CMS for years before I looked at Torchbox. Similar to Google's marketing for Pixel phones, I thought to myself: "I specialise in this awesome piece of software, why not work for the company that made it?" I’ve been an advocate for Torchbox, the team and all of our incredible work ever since.

Tell me about your professional growth throughout your time at Torchbox.

Jacob - When I joined Torchbox, I was one of the first developers without a web background. Fortunately, I had Nick as my dedicated mentor who helped me learn Django and I eventually joined the core Wagtail team. Starting with minor tweaks, I quickly progressed to handling significant customisations for clients like Motley Fool. And within a year, I outgrew my junior role and began to move my way up the ranks.

I took part in Google Summer of Code on behalf of Wagtail to mentor students, an experience which enhanced my leadership skills and allowed me to contribute to larger Wagtail features and extensions. At the end of last year, I was promoted to Senior Developer and Wagtail Consultant.

Kevin - I initially joined as a midweight Drupal Developer. In fact, I’d not even seen Python until I started at Torchbox! After a year at Torchbox, Torchbox decided to transition away from Drupal and provided mentoring in Python and Wagtail. I embraced the opportunity because Python is such a transferable skill that I was excited to learn.

During my spare time, I taught myself Python with art and quickly developed my skills and knowledge. I progressed to leading projects and eventually earned a promotion to a senior role. Now, I lead projects, mentor other developers, and set in-house standards for all developers here.

Kyle - I took a slight demotion when joining Torchbox to plug some gaps in my knowledge/experience, which I was a little unsure about initially. But it turned out to be the best decision I could have made!

Since joining, I've been a part of the company's most significant projects, often those focusing on accessibility, government/public sector, and, of course, Wagtail, and helped to shape some outstanding teams, including the Torchbox Academy students.

While I write less code and focus more on supporting the team nowadays, I'm still responsible for the technical implementation of my projects and manage to mention accessibility in every other sentence.

What has been your standout client project and what did you learn during the work?

Jacob - It's so difficult to choose just one! The bulk of my experience has been on developing Wagtail and sponsored improvements for Motley Fool. It’s so exciting and has developed my skills exponentially.

I also have to mention our recent work with Wharton Interactive and its educational games platform. It’s so complex and every day we learn something new.

Kevin - I take immense pride in all our team's work, but as a lover of art, I particularly enjoyed collaborating with The Royal College of Art. The designs were incredible and we had a huge task to ensure we did them justice. It was a phased build that taught me a lot about hosting.

Another memorable project was working with NYPR which involved travelling to New York and embedding myself with their team to teach them Wagtail best practices. Despite the short timeframe, we developed such a close working relationship and I had great support from the team back in the UK. It’s a standout moment for me in my time here at Torchbox.

Kyle - I'm currently working with a large public sector organisation in the US to help re-platform their complex estate of 80+ websites using Wagtail as a data source. We're using cutting-edge tech to improve things across the board for all users which has included a lot of learning and upskilling across the team. It's also my first venture into using Wagtail as a headless CMS (i.e. decoupled from the frontend website, which fetches its data via API) which is a fantastic experience to contribute improvements upstream to multiple open-source packages.

Why is Torchbox such a great place to progress a career in tech?

Jacob - Torchbox is an amazing place to advance your tech career due to the opportunity to work on open-source projects and our commitment to open sourcing. Our work on Wagtail benefits the entire Wagtail community and it's so rewarding seeing the enthusiasm from the community through Slack and Twitter when we release a new feature.

Finally, the emphasis on mentorship and knowledge sharing has played a significant role in my growth at Torchbox and is a great way for junior developers to progress. Torchbox has always put support behind me both when I needed mentoring and when I wanted to become a mentor too.

Kevin - The team is definitely the most special thing about Torchbox. As someone who works remotely, the opportunity to meet new people and engage in social trips like our bi-annual ski trip has been incredible.

Torchbox demonstrates clear evidence of career progression for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Many developers at Torchbox come from different paths, yet we have all experienced similar growth. Sometimes, as a developer, you can feel stagnant in your career, but Torchbox's management has the best way of steering you towards the things you most enjoy. It’s a lot more than just a job.

Kyle - There isn't a single box Torchbox leaves unchecked when it comes to being a great place to progress in your career.

Some highlights include:

  • We're 100% employee-owned; we're in this together, look out for each other, and reap the benefits together
  • We’re a certified B Corp
  • We have the most brilliant minds and personalities - our team is incredibly talented, personable, and unique
  • We use the best tech, have an entire team dedicated to innovation, and safeguard time for you to work on your career growth
  • We passionately care about the work we do, the people we work with, and the planet we live on
  • We work with the best CMS there is!

Are you an enthusiastic Python and Django developer seeking a new opportunity? Whether you're ready to make a move now or want to be considered for future roles, we'd love to hear from you! Get in touch with our recruitment team at [email protected] and check out our careers page for more information.

Author information: Lily Veale , Senior Marketing Executive , Post information: , 5 min read ,
Related post categories: Wagtail , Culture ,