Meet the 50 Team: Software Engineer Marcus McCurdy

Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on StumbleUpon


Welcome to our Meet the 50 Team series, where we give you the lowdown on how the people at 50onRed get stuff done. This time we’re sitting down with Software Engineer Marcus McCurdy!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role here.

I’ve done anything and everything since I was hired at 50 about two and a half years ago. I started out doing PHP, JavaScript, and MySQL work on the internal dashboard our Analyst and Sales teams use to make critical business decisions on a daily basis. A few months in, I helped write the backend Java code for one of our servers. At the same time, I was also helping out on Traffic Platform with the Python Flask backend for that server. After that, I became the lead developer for our distribution platform, which is also written in Python. These days, in addition to writing the code for the servers, I’m also writing and contributing to the Ansible scripts that we use to deploy and provision our servers.

Currently, I’m helping Traffic Platform launch a new feature. I kind of jump around from project to project, helping out where I’m needed the most.

You’re from California. What brought you to the East Coast and why’d you decide to stay?

I had a great opportunity to work at a research lab at Drexel University, and one of the huge perks of working there was that I could get my Master’s degree basically for free. After I finished my MS in Computer Science, I really wanted to work for a smaller organization that moves quickly, which led me to 50onRed.

I knew moments after starting my interview that 50onRed was exactly the type of place I was looking for. After my interview, I asked Craig, our VP of Engineering, when I could expect to hear back about the position. He said, “We move pretty fast, so soon.” I think I had an email before I got home.

What makes working for a startup company unique?

Something I consider unique is that I don’t necessarily know what I’ll be working on tomorrow. Someone might come up with an amazing new idea for a product, and we could build a prototype and start getting some traffic on it in as little as a day, depending on how complicated it is. You can’t really get that experience anywhere else, and I love it.

What do you think makes Philly such a cool place to live?

During the warmer months, I really love how walkable/bike-able Philadelphia is. It also seems like there are events happening every weekend.

Who are your mentors here, and what have they taught you?

Everyone on the team is a great developer, and I would say I’ve learned something from everyone. I’ve learned the most JavaScript and crazy regular expressions from Steve Berlan (or, as we affectionately refer to him, “JSteve”). For Python and general software engineering practices, I would have to say Craig Slusher, our VP of Engineering.

What tools are essential to your day-to-day?

Not including programming languages, I’d say Git, Tig, IntelliJ, Vim, The Silver Searcher, Vagrant, Github, and Bitbucket.

What got you into working out and lifting? How do you prepare for a big competition?

The biggest inspiration to my lifting and working out would have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ever since I was a child, I was obsessed with his movies.

I started seriously lifting weights when I was around 16 years old. I didn’t really know what I was doing, though, and was following traditional bodybuilding style workouts. Around 2007, I discovered CrossFit, and saw better results in a month than I did in years of my previous programming. After doing CrossFit for a few years, I found that my favorite parts were the Olympic lifts, the snatch, and the clean and jerk. So, for a few months, I stuck exclusively to an Olympic lifting program.

As far as preparation for a competition, the majority of it happens in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Around two weeks out, you’ve settled on what you want your opening lifts to be. The week of the competition, you’re really tapering–only working up to your opener and letting your body rest.

I prefer to train at the same weight that I compete at (77 kg, or 169.8 lbs), rather than try to drop weight right before the competition. That being said, there’s still some day-before and day-of preparation. My normal weight is usually between 170-175 lbs, so the night before a competition I’ll eat a lighter dinner and avoid drinking too much water. The morning of, I won’t drink any water or eat breakfast and just have a shot of espresso instead. Once the weigh-in is over, I consume a ton of food and water. After eating a post-competition rack of BBQ ribs at my last competition, I went from 169.8 to 181 by the end of the day.

A photo posted by 50onRed (@fiftyonred) on


At our internal Show & Tell, you presented a side project you worked on. Do you typically work on tech projects outside of work?

Yeah, I’m usually still programming or experimenting with new technologies after work and on the weekends. I think it’s essential to keep up with the current trends in the industry, but it gets pretty challenging. With the pace that new technologies are created, it’s impossible to keep up. You can start to feel a bit like Sisyphus, so you really have to pick and choose which technologies you want to learn.

There’s growing competition to work in the tech industry. What advice would you give people looking to work here?

Working at 50onRed, I’ve been involved with dozens of technical interviews, and my best advice would be to learn the fundamentals very well. Learn as many programming languages as you can–especially languages with different paradigms. Learn a few object-oriented languages along with some functional programming languages.

We never ask candidates any trick questions or logic puzzles. For most technical positions, we’re looking for someone who can adapt well to different situations. Every developer on the team works in multiple languages per week, if not per day.

So, is it true you’re related to the Nickelodeon iCarly star Jenette McCurdy? What’s the best (or worst) part about having a famous sister?

The worst thing is that everyone spells her name incorrectly (It’s two Ns and two Ts.). The weirdest thing is walking through Target and seeing your sister’s face on bed sheets. Even weirder than that is that my first impulse was to buy them for her as a joke.

Want to learn more about 50onRed and see what opportunities we have available? Head over to our Careers page.