Since childhood I've been fascinated by computers. I remember the release of Windows 95, and thought it was "so cool". By high school I was building websites for local bands and businesses.
- → The 4th reactor at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station explodes
- → The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates mid-air, killing all of its passengers
- → The Oprah Winfrey Show is broadcast nationally for the first time
- → I am born
I studied Interactive Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago from 2005 to 2008, where I received my Bachelor of Arts. Before that I spent a year at the University of Illinois in Champaign, but it wasn't really my style. At Columbia I learned about many different subjects including introductory programming, graphic and user interface design, animation, 3D modeling and audio engineering.
While studying, I maintained a small number of websites for friends and family and participated in an internship with a local development and marketing company. Before graduation I lined up my first full time job at a local design agency where I worked on many different projects. It was here that I became a bit of a jQuery Evangelist. Back in these days, I spent at least 30% of my time working with Flash and ActionScript. We used SVN - begrudgingly. I also became involved in the local music scene where I formed a punk band with a close friend from College, playing a number of clubs in the area.
I have always wanted to start my own business and In 2011 I left my job to pursue that goal. I began building more complex applications at this point, utilizing technologies like Backbone and Underscore to more efficiently organize and modularize my code. I worked for a number of different clients, large and small and learned how to effectively plug into teams and produce results quickly. This was also the period in which I became proficient with Git for version control.
In 2013 I decided to pursue another goal - living on the West Coast. Utilizing the freedom that my new business afforded me, I packed up and moved to Costa Mesa, California. I really began leveling up my WordPress skills at this point, building a number of Custom Themes and Plugins.
By now I had had my first taste of what it was like to build anything more complicated than a static website (ignoring all the cool stuff we used to do with Flash back in the day...). I was starting to really crave sharing what I'd been learning with others. I began attending the Orange County Node.js MeetUp Group where I gave a presentation on static website generation and optimization with Grunt.
After a short time fate lured me back to Chicago where I reformed my old punk band and continued my freelance business. I eventually began contracting for a healthcare startup full time, and soon after I accepted an offer for a permanent position as a Senior Developer on the team. We used a stack that included Python, MongoDB, Django and Backbone with Mercurial as our method of version control. It was here that I became familiar with the startup environment and grew from a single-language developer to a multilingual one. We practiced all the good parts of Scrum like daily standups, regular sprints and retrospectives.
Today I am still taking on contract roles remotely from my home in Southern Wisconsin. My ideal projects involve React, Node.js, and API design. Please reach out to me at benwasilewski at gmail dot com to discuss your project.