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Meet the Orbit Engineering Team: Alex Morton

March 21, 2022
Alex Morton
Software Engineer
Meet the Orbit Engineering Team: Alex Morton
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Welcome to the Meet the Orbit Engineering Team blog series! We're diving into learning about the awesome engineers at Orbit and what it's like to be a part of the team. Enjoy!

Today, we're chatting with Alex Morton, a software engineer on the team based in Toulouse, France.

Let’s start with two truths and a lie about yourself.

  1. I won a singing competition in 4th grade.
  2. I was born on Friday the 13th.
  3. I taught myself how to code.

Which statement was the lie above?

I was not born on Friday the 13th, but instead on Saturday the 14th! I think my mom tried to hold me in a bit longer because she didn't want me to be an unlucky baby.

Re: the singing competition, I'm definitely not a singer, but I *am* proud to have won an American Idol-themed birthday party by popular vote. Thanks early-2000's, Avril Lavigne, and No Doubt for the song choices!

Tell us about your path into tech and how you ended up at Orbit.

I've had quite a winding road into tech and where I am now. I'm originally from California, and I studied English Literature at university before moving to Toulouse, France to work as an au pair with a family. I wanted to try to stay and live in France, so then I ended up teaching English in a French high school for two years. Soon after, I realized I didn't want to teach so I landed my first 100% remote job with a great travel newsletter startup on the customer support team.

During my time at that startup, I started to take an interest in learning to code, so I started building basic websites using HTML, CSS, and eventually JavaScript. After a year and a half, I left and viewed "teaching myself to code" as my full-time job for all of 2020.

At the end of 2020, I met Nicolas on Twitter, and he introduced me to Orbit and what the team was up to. Long story short, after about a week and a half of meeting with Nicolas and the founders, Patrick and Josh, I found myself with a job offer in hand for my very first role as a software engineer! It was (and still is) one of the proudest moments of my life and career.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I try to make a to-do list for myself at the end of the previous workday so that I know where to focus my attention right when the day starts. In the morning, I'll catch up on Slack messages and take note of anything else that needs to be added to my to-do list. And then I'll get to work on my tasks and projects.

Since I'm located in France, my typical working hours are from 10am to 7pm to try to have some overlap with teammates in the US. 

It's difficult to describe a typical day because every day is so dynamic with so many different things I'm able to work on. Some days, I'm more heads-down in whatever coding task I have, while other days I'm also focused on documenting processes for the team to use or pitching fun ideas (like this blog series!).

What’s a feature or project you’re most proud of that you worked on in the past three months?

In-app notifications! A few months ago, we introduced notifications to the Orbit app, and it was such a huge learning experience for me to work deeply on a feature that spans all the way from an event happening (i.e. a workspace collaborator leaves a note on a member profile, or a user uploads a CSV file) to it successfully notifying the correct users on each of their accounts.

It was also a great deep-dive for me into the world of Turbo Frames and Turbo Streams. I feel like I've only scratched the surface and I'm super excited to learn more!

What’s your favorite thing about working at Orbit?

I'd say my favorite thing about working at Orbit (aside from our truly stellar team) is the flexibility to work the hours that suit us individually as well as the inherent trust from managers and the leadership team that goes with that flexibility.

I hate being micromanaged, and I've never once felt that at Orbit. If I'm not feeling so productive in the middle of the afternoon, there's no issue with taking a couple of hours off and instead working a bit longer into the evening when I'm feeling more productive and able to achieve that elusive sense of flow in my work!

Describe the type of person that would thrive as a member of Orbit’s engineering team.

I think the type of person that would be a great fit for our engineering team is someone who is very autonomous and a self-starter, but at the same time not afraid to reach out and ask for help or support when they need it.

At Orbit, we have a lot of freedom to work on the types of projects we want to work on within the realm of each of our teams, and it definitely benefits both the teammate and the rest of the team when they can harness that sense of initiative and ownership of their work.

What is your current favorite gem, library, tool, or anything else that helps you with your work? Why?

I mentioned it above, but I'm really into the turbo-rails gem right now. With my current work, we've been doing a lot with turbo frames and streams and there's just so much that can be achieved with both. 

I'm really looking forward to going deeper and hopefully being able to contribute to the community in some way or other.

Lastly, where can people find or connect with you online?

Find me on Twitter! @alexlsaltt

The latest buzz about Alex

We asked other Orbit engineers what it's like to work with Alex, and here are some of their responses:

Alex is open-minded and always makes herself available to pair-program, especially when I first joined the team. She usually suggests jumping on a call to walk through a demo of a feature and for pair-programming sessions. In addition to that, she is always available to help.

Mashkour Abdel Aziz , Software Engineer

Alex is a quick learner and great tutor, she goes from trying out a new thing to thoughtfully introducing it to the team and codebase in no time. So enthusiastic too—her curiosity knows no bounds!

Nicolas Goutay, Lead Software Engineer

It's been a while since I've worked directly with her, but I remember her attention to detail. It's one of the things I like the most about her.

Basile Barrincio, Lead Software Engineer

Like what you're reading and curious about joining the Orbit engineering team? 👇

💫  Orbit is Hiring Engineers in US/EMEA

Orbit helps grow and measure thousands of communities like Kubernetes and CircleCI. We're a remote-first company with a product-driven, empathetic engineering team that enjoys the occasional space pun! Check out our careers page for open opportunities.

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