The String and Key Crew: Jordan Clifton

Jasmin H
Jasmin H
Jul 21, 2020 · 6 min read
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As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Jordan Clifton.

Company Role: Senior Mobile Engineer

Most likely to: be exploring someplace new

Secret talent: falling asleep within a few minutes of laying down

After quickly bringing his expertise to various tech agencies across North Carolina, a twist of fate took our mobile developer Jordan to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, where he would work his engineering magic for a year. After returning from his brief stint in the picturesque city, Jordan moved back to North Carolina — and pre-pandemic could be found working out of our Chapel Hill office. Outside of work, Jordan is a proud father of two boys (a two-year-old and five-month-old), a huge proponent of mac n cheese, and a Chelsea Football Club enthusiast (he himself was pretty good at soccer in a past life).

In the latest installment of our String and Key Crew employee profile, Jordan shares what he loves about his job and the industry, how he’s used tech to try and score a date in the past, what he wanted to be growing up, and more.

What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?Commuting is not so hard these days. I just need to climb some stairs, and I’m in my office. I start the day off checking email and catching up on whatever I need to catch up on. Next, the mobile team has a standup to discuss yesterday, today, and any blockers. Then it’s a mix of coding and meetings throughout the day. Plus, a little collaboration. The people here at String and Key are easy to work with and are also very smart — I’m always learning from them.

What excites you about your job?
You never know what will happen next. When you work in technology, you can always bet that something new and different will come along. Keeping up is what keeps things fresh. And with mobile, there are a lot of various features you can find yourself working on — from GPS mapping to connecting to devices via Bluetooth. And it’s not about just doing it again and again, it’s about doing it differently each time. Figuring out new ways to solve problems. I love working on new things and building something from the ground up. I also enjoy being able to work with new technologies/frameworks. SwiftUI currently has my attention, and it’s really fun to learn.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
Keeping up with new technologies and adapting to them, because being able to switch gears to something else in short notice can be challenging. I stay on top of my game by tuning into WWDC and other conferences that are good sources of new technology. Blogs also offer good in-depth research on specific topics. I also subscribe to the iOS dev weekly newsletter, which goes out every week. But challenges keep me going. You don’t want to be bored at your job, do you?

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As a father of two young kids, how do you balance your career at String and Key with family life?
Well, at one point, my kids were both under two years of age, so it was a crazy, crazy time! I will say, getting up early to spend time with the kids is important. What also helps is sticking to routines, quickly bringing up any issues that may cause blocks, and using my time wisely. I now use my time so efficiently; I’m not really sure what I did with it before. But I can’t forget about the incredible support system I have, like my wife, who helps out a lot (even though she works full time). And my sister, who’s our nanny. It’s a nice setup.

The work/life balance here at String and Key is also pretty excellent. If I ever need to go to the pediatrician with my kid, or we want to take time off as a family, there are no issues. We have a mutual understanding, and we’re always communicative. It also helps that my boss has two kids himself, so he gets it. Overall, it’s about finding that balance. Working at a stealth startup means long hours come in waves, so as long as you get your work done and people know where you’re at, there’s never a problem.

What did you want to be growing up?
Growing up, I wanted to do something with video games, and so I had dreams of being a gameplay programmer. I started programming when I was about 14 years old, and I always thought it would be really fun working in this industry. After going to different conferences, I began to realize the amount of work put into video games and the extremely long hours put in to make them successful.

What are the values that drive you?
I would say creativity and support are top for me. I appreciate a job that allows me to explore other solutions to problems — being able to bring my ideas to the table and listen to my feedback. And having team support is always a big thing for me. I feel like I can always go to my teammates with questions and get a very thoughtful answer.

What drew you to tech, and what excites you about the industry?
I started programming when I was around 14. One of my first programs consisted of two buttons (Yes/No) asking a girl if she would like to go to the middle school dance with me. Clicking a button would send me an email with the response (no comment on what email I received back). I also got into programming a chatbot for AOL chat rooms in my early days. I knew it was my calling. It’s fun to make something people find useful in their daily lives.

What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
I’ve learned how to take advantage of automation tools to do a lot of work for me — helping keep my code, git commits, and pull requests very clean. I’m also learning SwiftUI to build views in a new way. Non-industry related, I have been learning how to make a variety of cocktails.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
I could tell you everything you need to know about customizing a PC as I’ve been building PCs since I was about 16 years old. Over the years, I’ve been simply upgrading and replacing different parts of my PC. It’s something I often do, so I could probably put one together with my eyes closed.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
Being a dad of two boys definitely keeps me busy. One is two years old, and the other is five months old. They are so much fun to spend time with, even if sometimes there is a rollercoaster of emotions. Other than that, my family loves to travel. We are always looking to book a new trip.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#Dada #Caffeine #Traveler #Laidback #Games

Lighting Round:

Fruit or veggies?

Fruit.

Pizza or pasta?

Pizza.

Sequel or prequel?

Sequel.

Digital or analog?

Digital.

Movie marathon or TV show binge?

Movie marathon.

Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!

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