Spotlight: Matt Robitaille

Welcome to the Anchour Spotlight series, where we interview the people behind our company and who are dedicated to telling the stories of businesses around the world.

Tell us a little about yourself.

MR: I'm 24-years-old. I was born in Missouri, but was raised in Jay, Maine for most of my life. I became interested in web development in my late high-school / early college years, mainly because I was a video game nerd. I spent a lot of time with technology and wanted to figure out how to do cool things myself. I knew that I wanted to pursue web development as a career when I was capable of getting a project completed from start to finish.

It's an awesome feeling to work on something challenging for so long, then have it just “click” and come to fruition. That feeling is why I continue to enjoy my job — the never-ending cycle of learning.

What’s the best part of your job?

MR: It's tough to narrow this down to just one aspect because there are so many, but I'll cheat and talk about the two best aspects of my job.

1. I get to work closely with the design team on projects. A lot of times, it seems like there is a major disconnect between a designer and a developer while working on a project at your typical web firm. At Anchour, there is a lot of back-and-forth that happens over the lifespan of a project. Sometimes, I’ll get a design and notice that something about it just feels “off”. Or it doesn’t work well when it is translated from design into code. Instead of trying to force it and have awkward implementation, I’ll offer my own suggestions, then discuss how we can provide a better solution: something that is simple for both design and development.

2. Is the expression of gratitude and satisfaction that we receive from our clients. It’s nice to know that our hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s also great to know that a client’s business is booming because of a solution that we crafted for them.

What’s the worst part of your job?

MR: The toughest part is often that cycle of continuous learning and staying up-to-date with rapidly-changing technologies. When I work a nine-hour day at the office, sometimes the last thing I want to do is go home to do more work and continue research on a specific framework or language.

Being the primary developer for Anchour means that a lot of work falls on my shoulders alone. I can't just clock out and go home for the night if there are too many upcoming deadlines. It ultimately comes down to there not being enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do.

It's easy to get stuck in a rut and just want to do my own thing — relax, play Xbox, watch Netflix. At that point, the struggle is finding inspiration, keeping that hunger for more knowledge going.

“Never be satisfied with ‘good enough’ when you could be great.”

Who inspires you?

MR: Oh man, I could write a list that would go on forever. There are so many people who inspire me. First off, I'd say everyone at Anchour inspires me. The passion they have for their craft drives me.

For people in the web development community, there are a good amount. I'd say one of the biggest inspirations to me as a developer is Jeffrey Way (@jeffrey_way). He teaches via a screencasting site, called Laracasts, that I use very frequently to learn about web development. I attribute his teaching and videos to a lot of my improvement as a developer.

Another person is Matt Stauffer (@stauffermatt). He runs a podcast called the Five Minute Geek Show, among other things. The guy is super smart, very active within the web development community and seems to be very humble and just an all-around nice person.

Choose one of your projects that defines your career thus far.

MR: The Anchour website is one of my most favorite projects I've worked on as of right now, but it never feels finished. We are always trying to improve the previous iteration. It was built on a system that we had never used before and also incorporates many moving parts into one package. I feel it is an embodiment of what a successful web project is: a great concept that is executed well.

What’s the biggest misconception people may have about your job or working at Anchour?

MR: I think people sometimes tend to underestimate the amount of work that goes into these projects. I don't just sit at my computer, type in a few lines of code and let the magic happen. There’s a lot of work that put in behind the scenes to constantly improve my craft.

Where do you see Anchour in 5 years?

MR: I see Anchour continuing to expand across all fronts, making a great impact on businesses and organizations not only in Maine, but across the globe.

So I hear you are quite the home-brewer.

MR: Not as much as I'd like to be, but yes, I do brew my own beer. Right now, I’m still in the beginning stages, but it’s a good time. My soon-to-be wife makes her own wine, too. Our plan is to have a room in our house dedicated to making beer and wine — we’ll call it our fermentation station.

What is the best beer you have brewed so far?

MR: It's a toss-up between the German Altbier — that I made for my very first brew — and the chocolate milk stout. The stout edges out the Altbier, though. It's perfect for the frigid winter days we've been having.

Any tips or advice you would like to share?

MR: Never stop learning. Never be satisfied with "good enough" when you could be great. At the same time, make sure you find a good balance of work-to-life commitments. Don't sweat the little things, get some exercise and work to live — don't live to work.

Ready to start a project?

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