Sometimes it’s the sticky wickets in life that lead us to new adventures. Take U.Group full stack engineer, Mike Sherman. If it wasn’t for a pesky foreign language requirement in college, he would have never found his passion for writing code. And without the tedious process of getting from place to place, he wouldn’t be able to explore the world with his wife. Learn more about how he translates his engineering skills into everyday life, why he knows so much about the cheese making process, and what’s behind his contrarian view on travel. Get to know more about Mike here:
Describe what you do at U.Group in 3 words or less.
MS: Deliver inspired software.
How did you discover your passion for software engineering?
MS: It started in high school when I had the opportunity to take a Java programming course as an elective my senior year. Learning a bit of development, I could feel myself getting hooked—but it wasn’t until college that I truly saw the power of what I could do with computer science.
I initially started college off as a physics major. As I was looking through the requirements, I noticed that there was a credit needed for foreign languages. Having never been drawn deeply to learning another spoken language—and not wanting to phone it in—I noticed computer science listed as a class that would satisfy the requirements.
Sitting in this class rehashing some of the things I learned in high school, and then expanding upon them, caused me to have an epiphany—this is what I want to do! My major was changed that first semester and I have never looked back
Do your software engineering skills trickle into other aspects of your life, besides work?
MS: That is an interesting question. I would say so. Definitely from a troubleshooting and breaking problems down into smaller parts perspective. Recently I ran into an issue where my push lawn mower wouldn’t turn over. From the get-go I started to troubleshoot all the simple parts of the mower to see if there was something I could determine to be wrong. After all, small engines are not too complex of a mechanical machine.
Walking through the process, I replaced the mower with fresh gas, double checked it was not flooded, confirmed that the sparkplug and wire were still attached and in good shape, and checked the air filter. At this point it still wouldn’t turn over. Knowing there was a carburetor there—and not sure how they exactly work and what to clean—I turned to the old, trusty web browser and the research skills I have been honing for years in software development. Some small little brushes, and an afternoon later I had the carb cleaned up and the mower purring like a kitten.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen or read lately?
MS: Reading through The Clean Coder, the age-old saying of “leave it better than you found it” really resonates. This principle is something that has stuck with me over time and I always try to find a way to integrate it into whatever I’m doing. In software development, it can sometimes be as simple as fixing a misspelling or refactoring a variable to a more understandable name. In hiking and hunting, picking up trash found along the way and focusing on leaving the environment better than you found it is an even more obvious way to live by this principle.
Before joining U.Group, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
MS: Being born, raised, and currently rooted in Wisconsin, I used to work for a private label dairy company here in Green Bay. The opportunities I had there were endless—even as a software engineer. I helped write, maintain, and deploy software and even trained users on the plant floors that were running the machines to make cheese.
On top of the career opportunities the job provided, I also learned a ton about the cheese, cream cheese, and yogurt making processes. For some odd reason, I love to talk about cheese. It must be the Wisconsinite in me that really loves to not only eat cheese, but talk about it too.
What is something few people know about you?
MS: I don’t like traveling, but I like to travel. It may sound a bit clunky, but the act of traveling and having to deal with other people traveling at the same time as me—along with them not having the same logical approach to getting through the process—always makes me dislike traveling. But the result of traveling is something that I enjoy because it typically means I am either experiencing a new sight, smell, or taste, or catching up with long lost friends or family.
Where is your favorite place in the world, and why?
MS: That’s a tough one. I have two favorite locations that are drastically different from one other. My first would be sitting in the north woods of Wisconsin bow hunting. There is just something about how much nature you can observe when you are trying to sit as uncomfortably still as possible while also not feeling the cold seep in. The other would be traveling with my wife. She has a knack for finding fun new locations, both local and abroad, that I never would have even thought to go out and explore. Getting to have fun experiencing those places with her always ends up becoming a lifetime highlight.