My Name Is Justin Weiss — This Is What I Achieve at Aha!
What is the best way to accelerate your career? Work in a high-growth company that challenges you and puts learning first. An unwavering motivation to continue improving and achieving is also key. The highest performers constantly pursue new ideas and seek to understand the experiences and motivations of the people around them. We can learn a lot from them.
Curiosity fuels growth — which is why we want to bring you personal stories of achievement from talented people. Our hope is that some of their ideas are useful and maybe even inspirational as you work to become your best.
Meet Justin Weiss, a principal software engineer who has been part of the Aha! team for nearly six years. Justin is passionate about working with teammates to transform early-stage ideas into functionality that solves real problems for our customers. He lives with his family in Seattle, Washington, where he enjoys reading, music, and video games in his spare time.
Read on to learn more about how Justin finds joy in his work and pushes himself to keep learning — in his own words.
What do you find most energizing about your role?
"I'm most energized by taking the smallest hint of an idea and helping to grow it into a product that people use and love. Usually the initial idea arises from a conversation between a small group of teammates. Then I collaborate with different cross-functional groups to bring the idea to life — building a solution that truly benefits people in some way."
"The experience of seeing something come from nothing and creating real value for thousands of people is incredibly rewarding."
Which recent accomplishment at Aha! are you most proud of?
"Recently, I've been most proud of a feature that allows our customers to share notes and whiteboards across accounts. It's a feature that changed all kinds of assumptions about how our systems work and our data flows. It was a huge engineering challenge and learning opportunity.
Through creative thinking and careful feature design, we were able to make it work in a way that almost seemed impossible when we started. And now, our customers have the power and flexibility to share and collaborate on documents with anyone."
What has been the most rewarding thing about joining the Aha! team?
"Engineers at Aha! do regular support rotations — directly answering technical questions and helping our customers solve problems that benefit from engineering expertise. On the surface, this might not seem like something most engineers would enjoy. But I do. It's so fulfilling to hear directly from customers about how they are actually using the features we've built. Then we respond quickly with a solution so they can get back to their work."
"Learning about a bug, fixing it within a few minutes, and hearing a customer's gratitude as a result — this is the most satisfying feeling in the world."
What is the most surprising but useful career advice someone has given you?
"I heard this piece of advice early on in my career and took it to heart: 'There's no such thing as a boring project when you use it as a way to try something new.'
Sometimes projects are inherently interesting. Other times they're not. When I had to do simple, repetitive, or mundane projects in prior roles, I used these assignments to teach myself things. Like how to use macros to edit many lines at once, what it would feel like to strictly follow programming rules from a book I'd recently read, or how a functional approach to a problem would be different than my usual object-oriented approach.
Spending time on 'boring' projects can also give you an intuitive understanding of software design tradeoff decisions. Sometimes it makes sense to not pursue a feature if it does not align with the overall company goals. Grasping these tradeoffs is critical to creating the code behind great products."
What advice do you have for an aspiring or early-career software engineer?
"Never stop learning. And the best way to learn in this career is by building."
"As software developers, we're constantly learning new things — languages, techniques, and tools. While it is great to spend your time reading, watching videos, and diving into code, that knowledge tends to fade unless your fingers do the typing and your brain does the thinking. Banging your head against a problem for hours and then coming up with a solution that finally works? That is hard-won knowledge that will stay with you forever."
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