Patients turn to MDLIVE for on-demand healthcare, and MDLIVE turns to Wyncode for stellar Ruby on Rails developer talent in Florida. Enter Bryan and Darin, the Chief Solutions Officer and Chief Technology Officer, respectively, at MDLIVE, who have hired several Wyncoders and plan to hire more. We talk to Bryan and Darin about what they look for in new hires, the diverse benefits of having non-technical degrees on a development team, and the mentorship cycle at MDLIVE.
Tell us about MDLIVE and your roles there.
Bryan: I’ve been the Chief Technology Officer at MDLIVE for two years, and recently moved into a new Chief Solutions Officer role and now work on mergers & acquisitions as we acquire smaller technology companies and strategic partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Walgreens.
Darin: I’m the Chief Technology Officer, and joined about 6 months ago. I’m responsible for the team that builds out and maintains the technology solutions and infrastructure to provide virtual care through our apps and web portal.
MDLIVE provides virtual care, an opportunity for you to see a doctor within minutes over the phone, using your tablet or your web browser, and get a prescription if warranted. Patients love it from a convenience perspective, because they can be seen by a doctor without sit in a waiting room surrounded by sick people.
How large is the dev team now?
Darin: Just under a hundred people.
Bryan: We have Windows mobile developers, iOS, Android, web devs, back-end team, database, system administrators, everything you can think of. We’re always hiring for different roles.
How did you get connected with Wyncode?
Bryan: I go to a lot of startup events in the south Florida area. I ran into Juha and we started talking; eventually, I gave a presentation on MDLIVE and what we do to the Wyncode class. Wyncode teaches Ruby and we happen to be a Ruby shop. It seemed to work out and it was a good synergy.
Did you meet students during the program?
Bryan: Yes, we did that presentation during the class to give some perspective on a company in south Florida. I talked about what a Chief Solutions Officer does, what MDLIVE does and the types of roles that we’re looking for.
Afterwards we did a Q&A, and there were a couple of guys who spoke up and had some great questions. Darin and I have been back there a few times doing “Wynterviews.” We try and go to the pitch days and demo days and participate.
Other than hiring from Wyncode, how do you usually hire developers? What are you looking for when you’re looking for a new hire?
Darin: We use the typical channels like social media and job hunter sites. We also use some recruiting firms to help us attract talent. What we’re looking for first is a self-starter, someone who can deal with some ambiguity, but is driven and wants to grow. With our incredibly rapid pace of growth at the company, we need people who are ready to change, adapt, and grow as the company does. We want people who are high energy and are independent thinkers.
What roles have you hired Wyncoders for at MDLIVE?
Darin: We’ve been hiring Ruby developers at a junior level. They go through the cycle of being mentored and growing into senior developers and then they can mentor the next group of folks we bring on. That’s the cycle that we’re hoping to have with Wyncode.
How many developers have you hired from Wyncode so far?
Darin: We’ve hired 6.
Bryan: I think we’ve almost hired one person from each cohort that they’ve graduated.
Do you have advice for future bootcamp grads on how to stand out and get hired?
Bryan: I would say don’t be shy when you do get a chance to meet with an employer. Don’t be afraid to come shake our hands and introduce yourself. Also follow up properly!
Darin: Do something that shows initiative. That can be as simple as researching MDLIVE and demonstrating an understanding.
Bryan: Download the app and create an account. That’s a simple thing!
Darin: We have developers here now who came from Wyncode, and who from the very start have been deeply involved in researching and understanding how to advance and improve Ruby on Rails code. They’re starting out as juniors doing the most simplistic coding, but they’re also looking at the techniques and skills that are required to improve our overall code base, which is fantastic.
Have the final projects that you’ve seen at a demo day had an impact on who you’ve hired? Does someone need to have a killer final project to get the job?
Bryan: I got to judge on one of those panels, and while those projects do have an impact on our decision, I don’t think it’s a critical component to the hiring factor. I like to see the effort and how the students interact with each other as they’re talking and pitching.
Have you worked with any bootcamps other than Wyncode?
Bryan: Not at this time. There are a few others that have spoken to us. Wyncode just opened their Fort Lauderdale classroom too, so we’re excited to see if we can hire somebody who lives a bit closer.
Has it ever been a concern for you that new hires from Wyncode don’t have a traditional CS degree?
Bryan: Some of the students we’ve hired have had degrees in Economics or English before they went to Wyncode. The majority of the senior developers on our team do have an engineering or computer science degree, but ultimately, it doesn’t scare me to hire a Wyncoder. We put new hired on a 90 day trial period and if they’re knocking it out of the park then I want to keep them on and continue with them. We haven’t had to let anybody go, so I think we’re doing a good job hiring!
Darin: Having that mix of “left brain” and “right brain” engineers is a very very good thing. Having folks that have degrees in other areas and go through a bootcamp is very valuable for us. I think that adds to the depth, diversity and strength of the team.
You talked about the mentorship cycle, can you tell us a bit more about that? How do you make sure people ramp up?
Darin: Our VP of Architecture is our most senior developer, and he is a formal mentor who works with new hires on an ongoing basis to make sure that they have work that is helping them to progress. Beyond that, we pair-program day-to-day. That means that the junior developer is paired up with the more senior developer, in most cases offshore.
We are also getting more formal and consistent with code reviews and having both our juniors and seniors do reviews and both being active in providing feedback as code gets checked back into a production environment. We expect our juniors to provide value in pair-programming as well.
Do you have a good feedback loop with Wyncode? Are you able to suggest changes to the curriculum?
Bryan: I’ve been back to Wyncode a few times and had conversations with Juha and some of the other teachers. I suggested that they brush up on simple database things and some objected oriented material. Wyncode have been working with us to restructure some of those lessons. I definitely feel there is an open door. They always send out a quick survey after we hire.
Would you hire from Wyncode again in the future?
Darin: We’re making an offer on Monday, so yes!