My Name Is Phil Wilt — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Phil Wilt WIJ

“Want to come to a cool computer class?” I asked this question constantly during recess in second grade. I handed out flyers, trying to convince kids to join the class I went to every weekend. But no one wanted to give up their Saturday morning TV time — which broke my 8-year-old heart. I loved computers and did not understand why my friends were not interested.

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked for opportunities to share my love of technology with other people.

I began at a young age thanks to my grandfather, who bought me my first computer and enrolled me in those classes. He said that computers were going to be the jobs of the future. By age 10, I was spending hours in the computer lab after school. I learned how to use the command line. By freshman year of high school, I was programming an early chat client called mIRC. I knew I wanted to make this work my career.

During college, I pursued a degree in mathematics. I fell in love with linear algebra and begged a professor to allow me into a computer graphics course. I taught myself web development to earn money on the side and worked as a freelance developer for several clients, including an iconic musician and a legal non-profit that focused on the rights of death row inmates at San Quentin.

The next opportunity to build upon my computer science experience came right before my senior year of college.

A software company in Seattle offered me an exciting opportunity. It would entail traveling to Asia to train a team to use the company’s technology. I felt motivated to gain real-world skills, so I took a hiatus from university and headed abroad. When the training ended, I returned to finish my degree and signed up at a coding school. There, I switched technology stacks from PHP to Ruby on Rails and angular.

I was able to work in a variety of fields as a software development engineer in the Seattle area — from healthcare to digital loss prevention. It was gratifying to apply my knowledge to do some good, whether it was helping people with chronic medical conditions or helping people share files more easily and securely. But I wanted a chance to work on a product with a larger customer base and was ready for a change. 

I was searching for a company with the same values as me — where I could apply my skills on an even bigger scale.

A woman I spoke with while job searching happened to be married to a member of the Aha! engineering team. I was impressed by what I heard about the company, so I started reading all the blog posts about why people decided to join. The stories resonated and I was drawn to the idea of lovability. During the interview process, I got a glimpse at the level of talent on the team. Everyone I talked to was both smart and incredibly kind. I was thrilled to get an offer. 

Since joining, my main focus has been working closely with Justin Weiss on the Aha! collaborative text editor. This functionality allows users to work together in real time. It is a big honor to be looking at how we can expand usage of the editor (both in collaborative and non-collaborative forms) throughout the application.

The engineers at Aha! are the best I have ever worked with —  ridiculously talented, but also very generous in sharing their knowledge.

I learn how to become a better engineer every day. I also love the camaraderie that the entire company enjoys when we meet in person every six months. Our onsites make us feel very connected, even though we all work remotely.

If I could go back in time, I would tell the second-grade version of myself not to worry that no one wanted to join me at computer class. I have finally found an exceptional community of like-minded people who love technology — and sharing what they know — just as much as I do.

That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.

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