JAMES BENJAMIN YOUNG

I grew up around tech -- my dad is an IT security consultant, so my academic interests always gravitated toward math and science. Accordingly, I was pre-med at Pepperdine University; however, despite my interest in medicine as a field of study, as graduation approached I found myself becoming increasingly disinterested in pursuing it as a career. Around this time my interest in tech peaked. I became fascinated with Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, and the first code I ever wrote was for cryptocurrency miners. While I could not yet appreciate these elegant lines of code, it was satisfying to engage in this world a little more fully. I began dreaming about a career as a programmer and concurrently regretting my college major. Since then, I have had several diverse work experiences. I quickly excelled in each of them, which illuminated a few key qualities in myself that facilitated these successes. Foremost, I am an extremely quick learner, with an aptness for teaching a newly acquired skill to others. I am an instinctive problem solver, and ancillary to my logical disposition is a refined creativity, which consistently distinguishes my work.

I made a resolution this year to find my vocation, and within days I saw an ad for App Academy’s prep course. I viewed this as a singular opportunity to get my foot in the door of the tech industry and quickly applied. This course both imparted the fundamentals to me, and substantiated my notion that programming might be a great fit for me as a career. Subsequently, I enrolled in Thinkful’s full-stack web development program. The next four months flew by, and I cannot believe how much I’ve learned. At the start, I was just trying to soak up all of this new information, but then about halfway through everything clicked. My ‘break’ week, following week eight, was spent coding around the clock -- I built three full-stack apps before classes resumed. From that point on, I coded about twelve hours every day and always had a side project. I became increasingly fulfilled by my work and began experiencing firsthand the old adage, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

My greatest accomplishment was during week thirteen, when I independently built a backgammon game, against my mentor’s advice, who thought it would be out of scope for the five-day project. Not only was this inherently challenging, but I wrote the backend in Python, which I’d never used previously. I vividly remember feeling exceptionally focused and comfortable coding that week. Additionally, my capstone project, “Code Up”, was an extremely rewarding experience. I took the lead on the project since it originated from one of my proposals, serving as the project manager for a team of four. Relative to previous weeks, I coded far less, instead spending most days assisting a teammate with their code. This was a valuable opportunity to exercise my leadership and teaching skills in the context of programming. Also, I recognized that one of my strengths as a programmer is my ability to clearly visualize the big picture of an app from early on, and understand how it will all connect together, even if it’s unclear what the individual pieces will look like just yet. I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished, as this was far more complex than anything we’d built previously, with extensive features and delicate socket handling.

In sum, despite the relatively short timeline of my coding career, I believe that my academic background in the hard-sciences and my other life experiences have been preparing me for this career for some time -- laying out the groundwork on which I was able to quickly develop a formidable generalist programming ability. I absolutely love coding, and it has truly become the primary focus of my time and energy. I am ecstatic about starting a career as a software engineer and continuing to improve my programming skills.

A PROGRAMMING COMMUNITY, LEARNING TOGETHER - OCT. 2016


'Your programming questions answered in real-time by knowledgeable peers in a 1-on-1 chat room setting, seamlessly integrated with a collaborative code editor.'

I conceptualized this project and led a team of four as the Project Manager to build this site in three weeks.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Router), Firepad.io, ES6, LESS

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, Socket.io, PostgreSQL, Knex.js

Partners: Alex Bang, Sean Jun, & Joe Seago

A MULTI-PLAYER BACKGAMMON GAME - SEPT. 2016


'Outwit your opponent in one of the world's oldest dice games.'

I built the initial version of this project in a week, by myself, with Python 3 & Flask (this was the first time I had ever used Python). I then spent a few more days re-writing the backend in Node.js and implementing Socket.io.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Router), ES6, LESS

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, Socket.io, MongoDB, Mongoose


Original version:

A LANGUAGE-LEARNING TOOL - AUG. 2016


A 'spaced-repetition' app, parodying the popular language-learning software, Rosetta Stone®, and featuring the fictional language, 'Dothraki', from the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones.

I built this project with a partner in a week, using paired-programming. I went back alone a few weeks later to re-write the backend, making some crucial bug-fixes and implementing Socket.io.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Router), LESS

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, Socket.io, MongoDB, Mongoose

Partner: Alex Bang

A RESPONSIVE & WEB-SAFE EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN - SEPT. 2016


This was a side project I made for my girlfriend as an advertisement for her property listing.

Building this proved to be far more challenging than I anticipated, as I had to forget everything I knew about styling HTML content to create an elegant and responsive design without media queries, using only inline-styles.


Built with: HTML5 & CSS3

A DYNAMIC WEBSITE FOR AN IT SECURITY STARTUP - AUG. 2016


This was a side project I did for my dad's startup, The OpenICSTM Project.

Building this project enhanced my UI/UX design competency and my understanding of frontend routing. It also provided me with the opportunity to use some new technologies, such as 'react-router-scroll'.


Built with: React (+ Router, Scroll) & LESS

A DATABASE OF U.S. CASINOS AND POKER TOURNAMENTS - JULY 2016


'Use our real-time search to quickly navigate through U.S. casinos to find their contact information and the details of their daily poker tournament schedules'

This was the first full-stack app I built independently, as a side project, during the 'break week' of the Thinkful course. I gained a much clearer understanding of APIs and the way the frontend and backend interact. The casinos in the database are comprehensive and all of their contact information has been added; however, only about 10% of the tournaments have been input at this point.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Thunk, Router)

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, PostgreSQL, Knex.js, Google Places API

AN ONLINE VERSION OF THE HASBRO GAME - SEPT. 2016


'Join your friends in the classic strategy game, Connect Four®.'

This project was started by one of my classmates. He wrote the majority of the code and then I took over for a couple days to rewrite part of the backend and implement Socket.io. This was the first time I'd used Socket.io, and it was a great learning experience, giving me a much better understanding of how the server interacts with clients and how information can be selectively sent back to certain connections.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Router), ES6, LESS

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, Socket.io, MongoDB, Mongoose

Partner: Robby Kim

A FOUR-PLAYER CARD GAME - SEPT. 2016


'Try your hand at this addictive card game, also known as "Big Two". This is a "shedding game" with the object of getting rid of all of your cards first. It uses poker hand rankings to determine hand strength, and deuces play high.'

I started this project and wrote the majority of the code in 3 days, and then switched off with one of my classmates, who finished up the gameplay logic and tied up some loose ends.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Thunk), LESS

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, Deck of Cards API

Partner: Robby Kim

A TIMED TARGET GAME - JULY 2016


'Play "The Ultimate Tile Destroyer" -- break randomly-generated tiles and compete for the high-score.'

This was the first full-stack app I built, working in a group of three. I wrote the backend, set up the database, and made the connection of the backend and frontend.


Frontend: React.js (+ Redux, Thunk), LESS

Backend: Node.js, Express.js, PostgreSQL, Knex.js

Partners: Alex Bang & Eric Snell

A SINGLE-PLAYER GUESSING GAME - JULY 2016


'Guess the random number between one and one-hundred, using the provided feedback to gauge your next guess.'

While the logic behind this game is fairly simple, it was a personal achievement because it was the first project that I built with React. It was also the first one I really made my own, as I built the thermometer, which graphically displays how close the user is to the correct answer.


Built with: React.js (+ Redux)

Partner: Sierra Gregg