Maia Bittner is the co-founder and CTO of RocksBox, where she is single-handedly running the entire tech stack. Maia has two to seven years of experience as a programmer (depending on how you measure it) and graduated from Olin College of Engineering in 2011 with degrees in Computer Science and Cognitive Science. Here is her story.
Maia is the co-founder and CTO of RocksBox, where she is single-handedly running the entire tech stack. Maia has two to seven years of experience as a programmer (depending on how you measure it) and graduated from Olin College of Engineering in 2011 with degrees in Computer Science and Cognitive Science. Here is her story.
How I Got the Job I Have Now
I met my co-founder Meaghan through mutual friends and agreed to help her out on a couple projects short-term. We liked working with each other so much that she invited me on as a cofounder. She asked me if I wanted to be CTO and I said “No, I think there are better people for that position”.
She replied, slightly exasperated, with “Sure, there are better people to be CEO too” and looked around the bar we were in before saying “but I don’t see them; they’re not here right now!”
Getting Started in Tech
I made my first HTML webpage in 9th grade in high school, and continued developing my HTML skills on, no joke, the listing pages for items I sold on eBay. I’ve always known I wanted to work with computers! I’ve always loved the internet.
Life as a Startup CTO
In a typical day, I start by reviewing the automated reports on 404 errors, exceptions, etc. that I receive in my email. Then I spend a couple hours cranking on whatever new big feature I’m working on. I get lunch late – around 2pm – when restaurants have calmed down a little. After lunch is much less focused.
RocksBox is a Rails app, hosted on Heroku (with Postgres). We use jQuery and Sass on the front-end. I think the best way to learn is by having projects, and someone you call up when you get stuck!
I’m working on redo-ing our packaging now, so it’s a lot of back and forth getting quotes from Chinese manufacturers. I’m also improving our shipping processes, so I’ve had a lot of meetings with logistics companies and USPS. When I’m feeling frustrated and want to finish something, I tick off little bugs in GitHub.
I’m always reviewing analytics, the success of our latest marketing campaigns, and our general operations process. I built our internal admin site that most of our employees use all day long for their jobs, so there are always little adjustments I can make to make their days more more productive.
Create Your Own Support Group!
I’m fortunate to have incredibly smart and generous friends that I can call when I have a bug I can’t figure out, and they’ll walk me through how to fix it. My learning would have been severely stunted without it.
My favorite part of my job is that I do something I’ve never done before every single day. Learning is so important to me, and so I’m thankful I get to learn so many new things! Don’t assume that learning to code has an finish line and that you’ll ever be done… no one is done!
Keep in touch with awesome people! It’s hard to meet awesome people (I didn’t realize this at first, and took it for granted) and it’s much easier to maintain a relationship than create a new one. People are everything as far as careers are concerned.
“My favorite part of my job is that I do something I’ve never done before every single day.”
– Maia Bittner, RocksBox CTO
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