In this series, we shine a spotlight on the different DEV moderators — Trusted Members and Tag Mods — who help to make DEV a kind, helpful place. Aside from spreading good vibes and helping fellow community members, these folks also assist us with removing spam and keeping posts well organized by adding and removing tags as necessary amongst other things.
If you want to learn more about what these awesome folks do, I recommend checking out our Trusted Member and Tag Moderation guides. There is information about how to apply in both guides if you're interested in joining up as a moderator.
This month, we're featuring Jeff Jessie, a long-time moderator and member of the DEV Community. In this interview, Jeff talks about his move from the military into programming, how he balances being a dev with fatherhood, and the unique challenges of being a moderator for dev.to. I really appreciate all the hard work Jeff has contributed as a mod. His passion for coding and thoughtful attitude really shine through in the interview below. Thanks Jeff!
Alright, let's get into the interview with Jeff!
Michael Tharrington: Would you talk for a bit about your tech origin story — when you first got interested in software development and how you made the transition from the US Army into being an engineer at Accenture?
Jeff Jessie: My tech origin story is not too out of the ordinary from others. I got interested in software development after I was done with my Active Duty military commitment and had joined the Army Reserves. I was working as an installation technician for an internet provider and working really long hours in all weather elements. My body was beat up from both my military career and the job I was doing. This was roughly when all the online web development bootcamps started populating in social media feeds everywhere so I started looking into different programs and what it would take to learn things.
I started with learning Web Development basics while deployed in Cuba and picked up with a Bootcamp program shortly after returning that connected me with some like-minded military veterans and learned as much as I could. After finishing the “bootcamp” I was in no way job-ready at all and had picked up assisting beginners with a group called Junior Developers Group where we assist juniors in learning best practices and helping with coding. I kept learning on my own time while working full-time and got lucky to join in an apprenticeship program with Accenture.
I spent the first 6 months of that journey learning non-stop for Workday and ServiceNow platforms and going through courses. I joined on a really awesome project with ServiceNow and have been plugging along for a little over a year on the project and graduated the apprenticeship last November and took a full-time offer to stay on with Accenture in December. It has been an awesome experience and the company really fosters a great environment to work in. The journey continues every day as I am always learning something new from someone.
Michael: What’s the most challenging thing about moderating on DEV? And what’s the most rewarding thing about this work?
Jeff: The most challenging thing about moderating on DEV is trying to read things intentionally and understanding what the author is trying to get across. Sometimes it is easy to spot harmful material or spam and handle it as such. I try to do my best to highlight great articles where possible because I know how much work goes into writing on the platform. Another challenging thing is moderating the comments and the feedback being provided on articles. There isn’t a clear indication that someone is wrong or right so you have to read through and evaluate whether the comments are meant to be helpful or if they are being snarky and hateful towards the author in any way and handle those accordingly. I try my best to ensure that rude or innappropriate comments are removed or marked to be handled by the DEV team as much as possible because the environment should be a safe place for everyone to share their thoughts and opinions on tech and whatever else without the fear of being attacked.
Michael: Who are some of the technologists out there OR what are some of the projects you’re following, that inspire you and why?
Jeff: Wow, way too many to list if I am honest. I follow Brian Douglas (@bdougieyo) who is the main person of OpenSauced which encourages and provides a safe spot for people to learn about open source contributions. Bekah Hawrot Weigel (@bekahhw) as she is just an awesome person, who also is now working with Open Sauced but I know more from Virtual Coffee. Definitely Taylor Desseyn (@tdesseyn) who is a recruiter in the tech space. He hosts a couple podcasts as well as runs a Live on LinkedIn called Guidance Counselor 2.0 where he connects with hiring managers and tech people to share with the community things to help them grow and get into the industry. Taylor is truly a blessing to know and see his content. Just three great people who share so much with the community and foster really supportive environments to help others. I really am not following any projects lately as I have been head down with work but I would say that anything fostering DEI would be something I am 100% inspired by as well as anything Mental Health.
Michael: I know you’re a father, can you talk about how this has affected your life as a developer, the work you do as a mod, and your career in general? I’m wondering how it’s helped shape your unique perspective — if it’s brought challenges and/or strengthened your abilities and any thoughts you have on being a dad/dev.
Jeff: Being a father in and of itself is challenging enough, you are responsible for someone else 100%. Being a dad/dev is awesome. Fortunately for me the job I have allows me to work remotely so I get to spend more time with my kids and my wife. I take my daughters to school everyday and pick them up and work around that which is really awesome because I was never able to do that before. The challenge that comes with it is just prioritizing my work so that I can afford to step away during those times and not lose any productivity. That was one of the major things I learned stepping into this job was, a lot of learning how to prioritize things and organize better.
Being a dad/dev has definitely made my career journey more fun. I get to show my kids that you don’t have to stay in one career field forever, and that you can change and learn anything you put your mind to as long as you try your hardest. Definitely being the dad of two daughters has made the greatest impact because I am more in tune with the issues that women in general face in society, but also able to identify areas within my career and the work that I do where women are treated differently and being an ally to help support them. The main challenge that is has brought on is being more present and learning how to be that “stay at home” Dad. I was so used to being gone at an early hour and coming home late and not really being present all the time so adjusting to being around and handling more hands on with my kids was a learning curve because I had to adjust my way of doing things to account of each of my kids unique personalities. That definitely helps me as a mod on DEV because I am able to read through an article and then check an authors writing across multiple articles to see if the style is just their personality when checking content quality and how things are written.
Overall, moderating on the DEV platform has afforded me the opportunity to connect with some really awesome people that I probably never would have, and I have learned a lot more about content moderation and processes which overall is a great skill to have in this community because things get crazy in forums and being able to navigate that has been the greatest gift I have learned from working with the DEV team.
Thank y'all for reading. Stay tuned for future mod interviews in this series!