Nathan Gray - CodeMonkey (Senior Software Engineer)

CurioCity Careers
30 August 2012

Nathan Gray

CodeMonkey (Senior Software Engineer)

I love having a technical problem and finding a way to do things more efficiently, or more correctly, or more flexibly.

What is a typical day like for you?

I check to see if there are any customer orders which have gotten stuck and need my attention, then find a work ticket that looks like I can get it done before lunch. After lunch I work on whichever big project I am working on. I also look over programs other programmers have worked on, and give suggestions to them.

Projects involve talking with people to make sure I understand what they need, gathering information or sample data to make sure I have a good idea of what the problem entails, writing tests to verify the system is not working how we want, fixing the system, and running the tests to verify the system is now working how we want.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I love having a technical problem and finding a way to do things more efficiently, or more correctly, or more flexibly.

What is the least enjoyable part of your job?

Sometimes a problem takes a lot of research to figure out what exactly is wrong, and whether it is limited to a single place, or manifests itself all over the system. I don't mind spending a few hours on researching a problem, but I get bored if it is a big problem that takes days to research.

Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).

I tinkered with computers and programming as early as elementary school. I bought myself my own computer in high school.

During college, I got a summer job answering technical support phone calls, then volunteered to figure out how to capture data submitted to an HTML form on a web page. I then started doing programming for my college website. That experience helped me get a full-time programming job after college.

Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?

Having a computer in my home that I was allowed to work on was the biggest influence and motivator for me. I learned how to touch type, how to draw pictures, how to program music, and how to use the operating system. There was no pressure to do any of that. It was a fun way for me to exercise my mind.

What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?

Work hard. Do not give up when problems seem impossible. Explain the problem you are working on with someone else. Just putting the problem into terms someone else can understand can help you see how to fix the problem, or they might have suggestions, also.

How does your job make a difference?

I am able to automate repetitive things that annoy or overwhelm other people, so they can work on things they want to. I am able to transform information in ways that allows others to understand it better, so they can make informed decisions. I am able to do things that other people think are amazing and awesome, and brighten their day. I am able to help people start thinking about a problem differently, that they are trying to work on.

How do you use science, math and technology in your job?

In order to make computer programs run faster or more efficiently, I have to be aware of mathmatical rules and how formulas work. Sometimes, switching the order things happen can make a big difference in how long it takes to compute. Or knowing a mathmatical law means I can skip over some calculations that are redundant.

Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?

I took almost all academic classes in high school, and wish I had taken some more creative classes. It is important for the brain to have different kinds of problems to work on, and to have a break from all the technical stuff.

What makes this job right for you?

I love being able to work on different sizes of problems. Some I can finish within an hour, others take a couple of weeks. I love having a variety of problems to solve, so I don't get bored. I love knowing that my work makes the jobs of other people more efficient, and removes stressful, repetitive work they used to have to do.

What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?

I helped program our website to turn the mouse pointer into a hungry hippo, which was then able to eat pieces of the page, until nothing was left.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I love reading, mostly science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. I love creative writing. I love learning about how society came about, and what keeps it running versus what leads to it falling apart.

You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?

I'd pay off the rest of my mortgage, do some home improvement projects, and set up some investments to give me some cash flow from the interest (or save for retirement).

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit

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