The Unconventional Technologist: Jonathan Melin, Biblical Translator Turned Developer

July 9, 2020

We strive to hire unique, unconventional technologists. For us, hiring for skillset is a part of our “secret sauce.” Over twenty years, we’ve discovered that teams comprised of mixed backgrounds – self-taught, university educated and online certificates, furnish clients with a diverse approach to solving big problems.

Jonathan Melin, Full Stack Developer at SingleStone, is a wonderfully unique example of one of our “unconventional technologists.” Jonathan is constantly touted by clients as an excellent developer who meticulously builds solutions. In our humble opinion, this really hinges on his avant-garde background. Check out what we mean…

Meet Jonathan Melin, Full Stack Developer

How did you get started in the tech industry?

Jonathan Melin, unconventional technologists

Not in the traditional way. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, followed by a master’s in Bible Translation. After graduation, I spent a few years trying to carve out a career based on my studies, but it was tough to find a stable, well-paying gig. I concluded that I needed to make a career change. With a wife and three kids (now four!), I wanted to find a more stable career path.

I assessed a few options that would allow me to either gain new skills remotely or go back to school for a short stint. After learning about web development, I was intrigued, especially after I stumbled upon the countless online and in-person coding camps. I decided to enroll in a full-time, 16-week coding boot camp with DigitalCrafts.

Was it difficult to pivot from a liberal arts background to building technical skills?

Certain aspects of software development are challenging, but I didn’t find the course itself very difficult. I think my extensive background in linguistics/translation laid a great foundation for learning how to code. The speed at which I was able to build new skills and immediately put them to use on projects made the entire experience enjoyable.

It didn’t take long to feel confident that this was an industry I wanted to be a part of. Around the halfway point of the course, I started to apply for jobs and landed my first gig just twelve days after graduation.

It sounds like your non-technical background aided in your ability to build new skills. What advice do you have for other folks considering a career shift towards technology?

Absolutely. My previous degrees involved a lot of research, writing, and meticulous analyzation of language. I found that such skills paired nicely with web development. Furthermore, I believe that those non-technical experiences have contributed to my success as a developer.

Regarding advice, I recommend the bootcamp route if you can swing it. Whether you do a part-time or full-time program, online or in-person, you’re going to get an immersive experience with industry-relevant coding projects. The biggest factors in succeeding at any of these programs are aptitude and dedication. If you can stick with it, even through tough challenges and moments of second-guessing yourself, you can become a developer.

How are you continuing to build skills?

Every project at SingleStone has required that I build on my existing knowledge. I find myself constantly researching and implementing new technology. One area I’ve been focused on lately is Web Components. There’s a lot of speculation about their relevance, but I think front end development is moving in that direction.

In learning more about Web Components and testing the technology on my own, I’ve been able to streamline front-end builds. This is just one of the emerging opportunities I’ve been learning about and see as changing the way we develop.

Aside from work-driven research, I am also an Instructor for a part-time Full Stack Flex certificate program (boot camp) at the University of Richmond. Preparing material to teach reinforces my own understanding of concepts. You know the saying: you truly understand something when you can explain it to someone else… I experience this every time I share concepts with my students or field questions.

How do you think your background differentiates you as a developer?

I have a confidence about applying creative and detail-oriented solutions. The years of research and analysis of ancient texts gave me patience and focus that I think brings a well-rounded approach to technical problem solving.

In a build sense, my background has made me a bit perfectionistic. I never want to leave something half done, or even 90% done. I want to make sure it has all the bells and whistles, even if those bells and whistles weren’t necessarily asked for.

How does SingleStone rank in your tech journey?

Compared to where I’ve worked before, it’s been night and day in terms of how leadership and really everyone at SingleStone seems to genuinely care about one another.

I think that’s a common answer amongst all of these Q&As because it’s so evident. Time after time, I’ve been valued for more than what I can offer to the company. People respect my unconventional path to becoming a developer and celebrate my approach to problem-solving.

Have more questions for Jonathan? Shoot him a message on LinkedIn. Have the experience and curious about working at SingleStone? Explore our open opportunities, we’d love to learn more about you.

Jonathan Melin

Full Stack Developer
Jonathan is an ambitious developer with a strong drive to achieve and succeed. He has a proven track record working with diverse technologies in varying team environments. ​ ​