Our guiding force at Sparq is our mission: to create high-quality technology jobs in Middle America cities where talent is often overlooked. Our Mission in Action showcases Sparq colleagues who represent how this mission impacts individuals and the communities in which we operate.
Bill Combs’ love for technology began at the age of 13 when he received his first computer. After discovering BASIC and learning a few commands, he was hooked. Despite discovering this new hobby, however, it would take a few life changes before he was able to pursue a career in tech.
The path to Sparq
In 1999, Bill joined the Navy as an Aviation Structural and Hydraulics Mechanic. After leaving the military, he began a career in manufacturing and construction, and while he always took pride in his work, he didn’t find it fulfilling. After years of taking on solo development projects on the side (and a serious injury on the job), he finally decided to go all-in down this new path. After many late nights and weekends, Bill received his software engineering degree.
Finding the right fit
After receiving his degree, Bill started to apply for full-time developer roles. Despite having worked on solo projects for much of his life, he didn’t have experience working on a professional development team or in an Agile environment. His application was rejected almost immediately at many of the companies where he applied. Sparq seemed different, though. Bill researched the company before applying and, from the outside, it seemed like they’d be willing to take a chance on people who were new to the industry if they had the drive to learn. He was excited to be brought in for an interview.
An opportunity to grow
After meeting with Bill Rose, Director of Sparq’s new Development Center in Fort Wayne, Bill knew that he’d found the right place to start his career in tech. He soon discovered that the culture was all about supporting and mentoring colleagues who come from different backgrounds. He says, “Sparq has a culture that doesn’t restrict you. If you want to learn a new technology, the tools are there to help you do it.” In fact, after his initial project finished, he was asked by Bill Rose, “What do you want to do next?” He answered .NET because, despite working in web, he’d always had an interest in it. That pivot sent him on an adventure that he described as “the most challenging and rewarding thing I’d ever done as a developer.”
While Bill is still pushing himself and his technical abilities, he’s also focused on helping new colleagues. “There were colleagues in my first few weeks at Sparq who were extremely gracious with their time, and now that I’ve been here a while, I try to be just as helpful as others have been to me.”
Five Ways User Feedback Can Transform Your Product Strategy
User feedback is a critical asset that can provide valuable insights into your users' wants and needs. It can also give important observations into your application's overall performance. In this article, Principal Product Strategist Toyia Smith shares five ways to better incorporate user feedback into your product strategy.
Balancing Technical Debt and New Features: A Product Owner’s Guide
The term "technical debt" frequently emerges in discussions about software development, product health and organizational effectiveness. However, its true meaning and the balance organizations must find between managing this debt and new feature innovation can be confusing. In this article, learn how to manage that delicate balance so you can create an exceptional product.
Navigating Digital Product Discovery: A Guide to Avoiding the 5 Common Pitfalls in Custom Product Development
In digital product development, a well-structured discovery phase is critical to a product’s long-term success. However, bringing a digital product from concept to reality can be challenging. In this article, Principal Product Strategist Josh Campbell shares his guide to avoiding five common pitfalls during digital product discovery.
Preparing Your Business for the Realities of AI and Machine Learning: Beyond the Hype
The buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) has almost certainly reached a fever pitch. With benefits including increased efficiency and enhanced customer experiences, many businesses are eager to take advantage of these technologies. In this article by Chief Technology Officer Derek Perry, learn why organizations need a solid foundation to ensure they're ready to harness the benefits of AI and ML, before jumping in headfirst.