Employee Spotlight: 12 Questions with Developer Jacob Howard


Next up in our employee spotlight series is one of our longest standing employees, developer Jacob Howard! Jacob is a coding master and we’re very lucky to have him on the team (because besides the technical expertise, he’s also hilarious). Let’s learn more about Jacob and our software development!

How long have you worked at Verikai?

I’ve been at Verikai since July of 2019, so a year and 9 months! Time flies when you’re having fun!

Where did you grow up and where are you based now?

I grew up in Little Rock, AR, and although I started at Verikai in San Antonio, TX, I’m back in Little Rock.

What brought you to the company?

I was a contractor looking for clients who needed a software engineer, and I stumbled upon Verikai’s position on Stack Overflow. I did some research on the mission of the company, the two brilliant co-founders, and their vision to change the way health insurance is written with behavioral-based, machine learning models. So I applied. I didn’t think anything would come of it, then next thing I know I am on a plane to San Francisco to meet the team. The rest, as they say, is history!

What does your job entail? Can you take us through a day in the life at Verikai?

I’m a full stack software engineer, meaning I write the computer instructions for both the front end (the pretty part of the app that users interface with) and the back end (the behind the scenes work that make the front end make sense).

My main focus at Verikai is web application development. I write the front end and application-specific back end code for all of our user web applications.

My routine is pretty consistent. I grab a soda, set up a dog bed at my feet (for my two beagles to be foot-warmers for the morning), and I start going through tasks I need to accomplish that day. I pow-wow with my leader about priorities, make considerations about the best most optimal user experience my code can give while being as secure as possible, and then I hit the ground running!

What do you like most about your job and working at Verikai?

Firstly, family! Working remotely has its perks, but it also has the downside of not getting frequent face-to-face, in-person interaction. But the Verikai family is an ever-growing community full of smart people who are learning each other and becoming more tight-knit by the day. Between game nights and happy hours, it’s hard not to get attached to this exceptional team!

Secondly, impact! I’m helping to build product from the ground up with an innovative team. My team gives me the product details and design, and I get to build it, making important decisions that affect whether or not the app is snappy and user-friendly. That level of impact means I not only get to take pride in my work, I’m required to take pride in my work.

While you don’t interact directly with our customers, they use the product you create. What is most important to you in creating great customer experience? 

We have a fantastic product team that considers users’ experiences with our products, including how our apps will behave and how they can best serve our users. My main job in executing the product team’s vision is app efficiency, security, and cleanliness. If the user can walk away from the app saying something like, “That’s pretty, and I like how this is laid out,” that credit goes to Verikai’s exceptional product team. If I create the build the app right, it’ll feel snappy, and it’ll spotlight the product for what it is! But if I build it wrong, it’ll feel clunky, and our product could be lost in the weeds. I see the impact that the scope of my work has, and I enjoy getting the opportunity to effectively make that happen!

Can you tell us about what are the latest and greatest tools or technology you use to make Verikai products cutting-edge?

We use React.js, which is a modern, popular open-source coding library that Facebook came up with for creating web apps. React makes it painless to create interactive user interfaces. It gives us the capability to spin up finely-tuned custom applications that make Verikai’s products exactly what we need them to be.

Now a few fun ones…

What do you like to do in your free time during Covid, and non-Covid?

Rocket League, the world’s most addicting video game I refuse to put down (regardless of the fact I’m not getting better at it). It’s cars that can fly mixed with soccer. And the different skills you can develop in the game are pretty limitless, so I love that when I get on, I can try to get better at something new every time.

Tell us about your scariest or craziest experience?

Back when it was the tallest rollercoaster in the world, I rode the tallest rollercoaster in the world at Cedar Point! And I rode it to face and overcome my fear or rollercoasters in general!

If you had to choose a trade or skill that you don’t currently possess to turn into a profession, what would it be and why? (ideas can be chef, baker, mechanic, electrician, magician, carpenter, woodworker, painter)

A cardiologist would be cool! I had a family member who had a heart scare, and I remember the cardiologist who came out and informed us on the situation. That cardiologist was on his A-game. He knew exactly what he was talking about, had seen this 100 times before, and could walk us laymen through exactly what the problem was and the solution he was going to implement. I just think it’d be so cool to be a confident subject-matter expert in something as impactful and delicate as a human heart!

The desert island question – What three things would you bring with you if you are trapped on a desert island with no electricity?

A case of Dr. Pepper, a massive stack of paper with a pen, and a cool sun hat. I’d live on the Dr. Pepper for as long as I can and just write novels all day until I die, but I’d die happy! Plus, at night, I’d get the most amazing view of the stars. Speaking from experience, I could really stretch out that Dr. Pepper!

What is your favorite plant or flower and why?

The Leyland Cypress tree! It grows about 4 feet a year, is evergreen, bushy, and a beautiful deep green. I live in the country, and I’m currently surrounding my property with the trees to block out the sound of the road and to enjoy the beautiful view along with some extra privacy!

If you’d like to learn more about Jacob, check him out on LinkedIn!

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