My Name Is Nico Arias-Gonzalez — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

Nico in Villeta, Colombia | Photo by Nico Arias-Gonzalez, Aha! engineering

November 4, 2022

My Name Is Nico Arias-Gonzalez — This Is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

I have always been drawn to technology. As a young boy in Medellín, Colombia, I learned to read when my father wrote down commands for me in a notebook we kept next to the family computer. I tinkered with any electronics I could get my hands on — taking apart and reassembling them (often unsuccessfully) to try to understand how each component fit together. In my teens, I learned English by playing video games and made money by helping people fix their computers.

My fascination with technology has been the guiding force for my entire life — driving my personal growth and shaping my career as a developer.

I studied computer science at an engineering-focused university in Medellín. A year before graduating, a professor recruited me to do web development at his startup, a community safety platform. The work was meaningful — I was helping provide a service for victims of robberies and car thefts to report the crimes to a centralized app. After graduation, I continued in this role for another five years because I loved using my skills to make people feel safer and more informed about crime trends in their communities.

When I was ready to take on a new challenge, I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to earn my master's degree in computer information systems. I let my curiosity lead me — exploring technical subjects in greater depth and working part-time for a nonprofit dedicated to honey bee sustainability. After receiving my degree, I joined the nonprofit as a full-time developer working remotely. This allowed me to move to Mexico City with my wife and support her through her medical residency.

As part of a small IT team, I was in charge of building the platform for collecting and storing honey bee health data. I also did everything from updating legacy code to designing web and mobile solutions for new projects. As time passed, I began to take on more managerial responsibilities including writing grants for the government. But I wanted to return to my technical roots and gain experience on a larger team, so I began looking for a new remote position at a tech company.

My goal? Be part of a team of talented engineers who shared my passion for technology — like-minded folks I could learn from and hopefully teach as well.

I first read about Aha! on Hacker News and realized during the interview process that this company was exactly what I was looking for. Each person I spoke to seemed genuinely happy with their job and what they were accomplishing. Aha! felt like a place where joyful and motivated people work. But what really convinced me that I wanted to join was my conversation with co-founder Chris Waters. It was one of the hardest interviews I have ever had, but I left feeling energized and motivated about the different technical challenges I could help solve.

Now as a member of the Aha! engineering team, I am responsible for building and maintaining advanced front-end products using ReactJS. One of my proudest accomplishments so far is completing an upgrade of the tool that packages all of our front-end code. It took 10 months to complete and multiple iterations, but we were able to deploy it with close to no complications — quite a feat for a company with a codebase as large as ours. Most recently, I helped build whiteboards and other features in Aha! Create, our new digital notebook.

The technical challenges of my role motivate me to keep learning and challenging my assumptions. It is incredibly rewarding to solve meaningful problems with a group of talented engineers.

What I appreciate most about Aha! is the people. Our culture is open, warm, and welcoming. I love that I can message anyone in the company regardless of their role and receive a prompt and friendly answer. We all follow The Responsive Method, which means that we move fast and respect everyone's time. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but I have found that being interrupt-driven actually makes us more productive — we are all mindful of other people's time and we focus on the work that truly matters.

Just as technology shaped me from an early age, now I have the opportunity to shape the technology that our customers use. It is a privilege that I feel grateful for every day.

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

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