String and Key
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String and Key

The String and Key Crew: Matt Rubright

As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Matt Rubright.

Company Role: Senior Android Developer

Most likely to: injure themselves while making lunch

Secret talent: can make the best shawarma

Raised on a steady diet of GamePro, PC Gamer, Nintendo Power, and Playstation Magazine, Matt’s younger self dreamed of a future in gaming journalism. And who wouldn’t? Writing, editing, and even podcasting for video game publications sounds like a pretty cool job at, well, any age, really. But, after a brief stint spent at journalism school, Matt’s journey took him in a slightly similar yet different direction — game development.

Graduating with his gaming degree, Matt taught himself iOS, Android, development and started working with special needs educators to make apps to use with their students. After starting his career working for a series of startups across a range of industries, he swapped small-company life for corporate before realizing the big-business lifestyle was not his cup of tea. Looking for another position at a small, tight-knit company, he found us, and he’s been living the S&K dream since 2020.

In our latest spotlight, we talk to Matt about his role (the highs, the challenges, and the bits in between), what his day-to-days at String and Key look like, and why Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine should be a kitchen staple for every budding home chef.

What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
I do a lot of work on the complex systems that go into the Android app, and I coordinate with the iOS and web teams to make sure we’re keeping consistent. We have daily standups for progress updates — it’s a public place for people to send up flares if there’s an issue we should know about. I also do code reviews of other people’s work to try and keep code quality up and help keep our planning board in sync with what’s going on — classic app development stuff.

What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
I’ve only been working here for a few months, but there’s a lot to like so far! I’m getting the chance to work in an industry I haven’t gotten much exposure to previously, which is always interesting. Everyone here is really knowledgeable and great to work with.

What excites you about your job?
In the end, it’s all work that I just enjoy doing, and it’s hard to complain about that. I feel like it’s the standard developer stuff — I like building things, facing challenges, all of that good stuff.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
App development in and of itself has its challenges: architecture decisions, backward compatibility, etc. Beyond that, some other things definitely keep me on my toes. For example, what we’re building involves a lot of cross-team coordination. Things are moving incredibly fast, so keeping on top of everything going on is a feat. In addition to that, we’re always looking for ways to push our boundaries and improve code quality, so it is sometimes a bit challenging to think of new ways to solve those issues.

What are the values that drive you?
I suppose that the values I try to uphold in my work are probably transparency and consistency. I try to be as straight as possible about problems I’m facing or when I need additional information to make sure I’m getting things done the right way. As for consistency, when I find a solution to a problem, I like to try to stick with it (when possible). That way, I can keep things predictable if more work needs to be done down the road.

How do you stay on top of your game?
The usual things: watching yearly developer conferences and then reading other peoples’ opinions on them to help filter out what’s actually useful information. Also, reading developer subreddits and Medium articles, talking with a few developer friends to see what they’re doing, and working on side projects to try out new frameworks.

What drew you to tech, and what excites you about the industry?
I guess nothing, in particular, led me in this direction. I grew up around tech, and my parents were engineers. They always joked about how I would grow up to be an engineer because I was apparently pedantic as a child — I can’t say they were wrong at this point. Also, I grew up in the 90s when home computers were still niche and hobbyist. I was regularly having LAN parties in somebody’s garage on the weekends. Turns out I ended up sticking with what I knew.

What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine is just really great to have on hand — go check it out. It has some unique characteristics that I haven’t noticed in other cooking wines, and now I use it way too much. Don’t try to drink it, though — it’s not like other cooking wines where it’s just not that good to drink; it’s salted and literally not meant for consumption. Thankfully I didn’t learn that the hard way.

If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I think I’d like to swap with someone in the creative team. It would be interesting to see the thought processes that go into plotting out how the app should be built. It could also be nice to trade with someone on the iOS team to get back to where I started and see how that’s changed over time.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
“Why you need a Keezer in your life.” At first, even after I already started homebrewing, I thought they were extra. Eventually, I bought one from someone in town. We started thinking of a bunch of unexpected uses for it that have actually been pretty great. We started making and flavoring our own sparkling water by the keg (amazing). I’m now looking into nitro taps to have nitro cold brew on tap in our garage. It’s also been interesting to have something to tinker with and expand my mechanical know-how.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
Mostly, I’m trying to avoid being busy since I enjoy having down-time. My wife & I like to play games together, but naturally, our backlog is out-pacing us. We read and, of course, have shows and YouTubers to keep up on. I also spend a decent amount of time researching new recipes to try, for both food and homebrewing, which is always fun and keeps things interesting.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#TryHardHomeChef #PodcastsAreLikeFriendsYouCantTalkToRight? #BigTopBurger #TruckFighters #WhatsAHashtag

Lighting Round:

Appetizer or dessert?
Appetizer. Savory over sweet — always.

Teleport or time travel?
Teleport: no timeline problems where you go to the wrong era and, oops, everyone’s lizard people.

Bike or walk?

Apple or Samsung?
Ugh, not Samsung — although Pixels are on the decline. Maybe Sony or LG?

Light mode or dark mode?

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