Meet the Maker: Kate Coleman

August 3, 2020
"I like coming out of a project feeling like I’m a better programmer than I was when I started."

We’d like to take a moment to introduce Kaitlyn Coleman or, as we know her, Kate.

When she’s not designing awesome websites, Kate is usually playing video games. Or collecting fossils. But rather than spoiling the interview, we’ll just tell you she has the coolest hobbies imaginable.

In this Meet the Maker employee profile, you’ll get to know the talented and hardworking front-end developer who’s celebrating her five-year anniversary at Makeway! Drop her a line to geek out on Dark Souls or Seven Samurai (iykyk).

What do you do at Makeway?

I’m a front-end developer (mostly HTML structure and CSS, JavaScript and jQuery functionality). It’s adding aesthetic flourishes to the site.

 

How did you get into the field?

I was in college five years ago at St. John Fisher, studying digital cultures and technologies. It was a grab bag of tech things, game design, all the cool emergent technologies going on. And you play around with whatever’s interesting. It was brand new, I was in the first crop of students graduating from it. And the head advisor just asked, “what are you guys interested in doing?” It was cool. I interned at Makeway and they hired me full time after I graduated.

 

Did you know this is what you wanted to do?

My original intention was to be a video game journalist. I was in the video game program at St. John Fisher and my very first web development course was a journalism elective—just to meet a requirement—and I liked it.

 

So you were a gamer growing up?

Very much so. I’m still a gamer. My backlog is unmanageable, I can’t even keep track of all the games I want to play at this point. I play everything except driving games. Mostly role-playing action games. I’ll play a story-driven visual novel as long as the writing’s good. I try to be as broad as possible. There are so many quirks and interesting perspectives now in game development, you never know what game mechanic you’re going to miss out on if you don’t keep up. One developer will be more linear and story driven, but the gameplay is more freeform. Or you might have another one where the gameplay is not terribly interesting but the story branches out.

 

Is that what you like about your job? Keeping things fresh?

Evolution is the key word. It’s never just, “I know how to do this now” and can do the same thing forever. One of the interesting challenges is keeping up with web technologies outside our usual workflow. There’s JavaScript frameworks and other CMS outside of WordPress that I don’t need to know inside and out, but I want to know where it’s going. It’s nice to know that there’s so much tutorial material and information on the internet, that’s just free, that I can round out my skill set. You never know when you’re going to have a client ask for some weird CMS setup.

 

Do you have a favorite project?

There was one a year or two ago where I was building something… it was as close to game design as I’ve ever gotten. It was teaching people how their technologies work. The actual mechanics of building that interface was pretty neat, and it stretched my JavaScript ability at the time. I like coming out of a project feeling like I’m a better programmer than I was when I started.

 

What do you like about working at Makeway?

It’s very chill. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere. Even when you’re on fire, it’s not a fire because the boss is going to be mad, it’s just because we want to get it done. Kevin is a good digital director, he goes to bat for the devs. There’s no internal drama, everyone gets along, it’s pleasant. Every so often we get something where it’s like, we haven’t really done this before, but we can figure this out on the fly. A lot of the job is figuring it out on the fly. That’s the other thing interesting about the job—people think you’re a wizard. But once you get into it, it’s a lot more approachable than people think it is. Everyone is learning together so there’s a sense of wanting to help everyone else out.

 

What other hobbies do you have?

I like to read. I collect Japanese comics and stuff like that. I like dinosaurs, I collect fossils. New York state is actually a really good source of trilobite fossils. The dinosaurs and the videogames… when I’m not working, that’s what I’m involved in.

 

What’s your favorite movie?

There’s a wormhole I didn’t go down… I like film a lot too. I can give you some genres because narrowing it down is too hard. 1940s and 50s Japanese films like Seven Samurai. The director, Kurosawa, was a huge influence on George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. I got tired of all the Marvel stuff so I had to go to the other side of the world to cleanse myself of that. I’ve been trying to watch the weirdest stuff I can find.

We’re proud to say Kate is one of the many reasons that working at Makeway is so special. We appreciate the passion and expertise she brings to the job day in and day out—for five years and many more to come!

While you’re here, stick around and get to know the rest of the Makeway team. It’s our special sauce, really. Because we believe great work comes from great teamwork.

Interested in joining us? Learn about careers at Makeway.