Get ready because this is going to be a good one. Samantha Campbell, based out of the Terminal Kitchener-Waterloo campus is a Frontend Developer at Bungalow, the Main Organizer for the Waterloo Region chapter of Girl Geek Dinners….and all this while seriously knowing her way around a craft store.
In this month’s Member Spotlight, Samantha shares what fuels her passion for frontend development, and how her creative hobbies keep her so balanced.
Terminal: Your career so far has been a really interesting one, from a large company like RIM to a few startups! Can you walk us through a bit of your journey?
Samantha: When I started at RIM it still had 16,000 employees. It was this massive ecosystem of people and because of that, there was a lot of process and rigidity to the workday. All that talent made it an amazing place for learning and finding mentors, but I quickly found that it was missing the close sense of community and the feeling that my daily contributions made a large impact.
After leaving RIM, I was splitting my time between going to school for Software Engineering Technology and work when I learned the real appeal of startups. There was flexibility in the hours, a sense of community, and I definitely felt my work was impactful. Although, nothing will test your skills like working for an early-stage startup — the experience taught me a lot quickly, and long-term importance of a good work/life balance.
Terminal: What was it about Bungalow’s vision that resonated with you made you want to join?
Samantha: I met with the team and immediately thought — this is really cool, and I know that I can help make it amazing. In particular, their technology stack which is a VueJS frontend and a Django backend really appealed to me and I had the marketing, brand, and user experience focus that would help complement the existing engineers. The team was insanely passionate and promoted values that were important to me: continual learning, humility, and community building.
Terminal: What’s something that your team accomplished that you are most proud of?
Samantha: When you create a company from the ground up, you put all focus on making things work to create an MVP (minimum viable product) to prove your idea before you put resources into building out a full solution. Bungalow had just passed that stage when I joined and had started on building the second iteration of their platform plus creating the first version of a mobile app. It’s an exciting time because you are trying to build something robust that will scale and be extendable with a lot of business logic. It required every single team member to pull off. It’s pretty fun to be there when the “switch” gets pulled.
Terminal: What’s it like to work in the KW Terminal Campus? What makes it unique from other workspaces you’ve been based out of?
The space is equal parts awesome and enabling. Location-wise, I love being in the Kitchener Downtown Core. We are right beside Victoria park, across from a gym, the bus terminal, and we are surrounded by more food than you could possibly want to eat. The office itself is full of windows with lots of natural sunlight for my plants. We are also conveniently located by a florist who feeds my succulent addiction.
I enjoy the mix of communal and private spaces. The large shared kitchen feels like you are working for a bigger company, but with the added perk of you may meet a new friend doing something you’ve never heard of (but want to!). I can work at my sunny desk with my team in our space, or snuggle into a bean bag corner upstairs with my headphones and coffee — then attend an evening event or social.
Terminal: You mentioned that work/life balance is key to your core values — what are some of the ways you spend your downtime?
Samantha: Paper crafting! I was longing for something that had nothing to do with a screen. I love all sorts of crafts, dabble in a bit of knitting, try and recreate things I see on the internet (for fun!). It’s my creative outlet and almost meditative as I can shut off literally everything.
In the summer/fall I take my dog day-hiking. Did you know there are 117 trails within 30 minutes of our Kitchener office? Now you do. Some of them are absolutely gorgeous and another great way to get away from the screen for a day.
Terminal: You’ve spent a lot of time in the KW area — what’s it got on other cities? How about as a tech hub — why is it special?
Samantha: Kitchener has a neat history. It was always an industrial center so it makes sense that it has evolved into a technology hub. A lot of technology companies are in older manufacturing buildings which gives it a unique charm. The density of technology companies also has created a large community of Meetups, user groups, and educational programs. It’s a great place to find your crew.
Terminal: Hypothetically, if you couldn’t work for Bungalow and money weren’t an object, what’s another business you would launch?
Samantha: I would start a craft and stationary store. I love a good cardstock. It would be pet-friendly and you would get a discount if you brought your dog in and let me pet it.
Terminal: You’re obviously a Wonder Woman. Tell us more about Geek Girls dinners, how it works, how it got started and why it’s so awesome?
Girl Geek Dinners is a monthly networking and dinner series for those interested in STEAM topics. We partner with a local technology company every month, bring in a speaker, hot dinner, and get together to network and geek out. I try and have something for everyone and we’ve covered topics from the science of cheese and how to localize software to how to find a mentor and grow your network. This year we expanded to weekend workshops! This allows us to do more hands-on learning like craft making, and longer career mapping and finance workshops. The mission is to provide a safe networking and learning environment as well as high quality events.
The idea came originally from the UK. Girl Geek Dinners is a global idea with chapters all over including France, Italy, and Scotland. Locally the group has been around since 2012 and is on its third wave of leadership. The reason it’s so successful is because of the groups flexibility to be what the community wants.
Terminal: What are some of the books, podcasts, resources that you love and that inform your work?
Samantha: Smashing Magazine is a great online publication that’s free to read. It’s my favorite frontend resource.
Frontend Masters is a paid series that’s worth every penny. It’s for when I want a deep dive into a skill or to learn a new language.