Managing Director of Engineering on Why He Hires SDG Grads

December 3rd, 2019

Lauren Mabra

Marketing Coordinator @ Suncoast Developers Guild

Meet Jason Fraley, Kin’s managing director of engineering. He's a 30-year information technology veteran and for the first half of his career, he built global-scale systems for GTE / Verizon and Oracle / Sun Microsystems. In the last 15 years, Jason has been architecting scalable software systems as well as building and talented teams of engineers across an array of industry verticals.

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Q: * You’ve been connected with some of the SDG team members for more than 10 years! Can you talk about some of the connections that you’ve made and knowledge that you’ve gained through them/through Meetups? *

A: I have been friends with Jason and Gavin from SDG for over 10 years. I first got connected with them through the Tampa Ruby Brigade Meetup and since then, I have seen both of them lead the Tampa Bay community through other Meetups. Their leadership and “always mentoring” attitude have helped shape many careers of people they have come in contact with. I take that attitude into my work with my teams, too – every conversation can be an opportunity to support learning and growth.

Q: When asked why you support SDG for the community spotlight you were featured in, you responded with: “It's such a great lift to our community, and building up the tech scene in St. Pete” which is an awesome answer. Can you expand on this a little more?

A: When Jason Perry and his team started SDG, I knew right away they found their true calling. They have a great reputation around town as thoughtful community leaders, and SDG made that official. Their local reputation has only improved over the years. I hear more and more people talk about SDG – “the local code school” – in social and professional circles.

Q: Why do you choose to hire SDG grads?

A: It’s the same reason I would trust any professional with something I care about: they have the right training, attitude, and experience. Let's just say that I knew a trusted car mechanic who always treated me fairly and I always had great experiences working with them. If that mechanic started training an apprentice and sharing their seemingly endless depth of knowledge, I would feel much better about that person working on my car than some stranger with a toolbox.

In other words, I know SDG is teaching students valuable programming skills and building a proper foundation. Their grads walk out with the right mindset to level up.

Q: Is there anything distinct that you’ve noticed about the SDG grads that you hire?

I have hired three Suncoast Developers Guild graduates, and a common trait they share is a sense of doing things the “right” way. Often I see the code they write and when I ask them why they didn’t take a common shortcut with the implementation that might have saved a bit of time, they consistently respond, “That's the way I was taught.” I admire that they trust their training and prioritize doing things properly.

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Q:*Does your company offer mentoring for the grads that get hired?

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A: Yes. For grads to find the greatest amount of success, mentoring in some form is a requirement in my book. The tricky part is striking a balance – you don’t want to overwhelm your senior developers. I found the best luck with a mixture of senior-lead paring, production support exposure, and non-work related continuing education activities.

Q: Some companies only want senior developers. Would you suggest that they try to hire juniors? Why or why not?

A: In my experience, a balanced team that includes senior-level developers, architects, mid-level developers, and juniors makes the most sense for productivity and team velocity. Moving the mentoring and pairing focus around the team really helps with morale and ultimately levels up the juniors faster.

Q: What would you say to a company who’s looking to hire graduates from us? What kind of advice would you give them to make the process smooth and effective?

A: Culture fit is the most important. Make sure an applicant gets how your company works and is excited about building software to solve the problems your company needs to solve!

Related blogs to check out 5 Ways Supporting Your Local Code School Grows Your Business Microsoft MVP on Why He Supports Code Schools How New Tech Talent Generates Growth in the Tampa Bay Economy


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