Brad Angelcyk brings his years of experience to We Write Code, performing technical platform audits, large-scale cloud infrastructure, and interactive development. When he steps away from the computer, you’ll find him dry-aging a few steaks.
Brad, I believe you hold the honor of having the most years of relevant experience at We Write Code. How long have you been working in tech?
Oh, gosh. Officially professionally? Around 23 years.
What do you mean “officially professionally”?
In high school, I ran an internet service provider with a handful of friends. Outside of general operations, it was mostly tech support calls—we talked to grandmas and helped them set up their computers—and we did some early website work. And I mean early website work, so stuff with no design that would make you cringe. But we did it for several years with a fairly steady client base. They’re actually still running today.
So were you always a tech guy?
Oh yeah. When I was a kid I learned how to program on really old computers, because that’s what we had around the house back then—when I was six I’d get on the computer and type code I didn’t understand so that I could play video games. I wrote a Frogger clone when I was a kid.
Even at a young age I realized I was probably going to want to go into computers, but I always looked for other things to do. Even as a kid, I was like, “I like doing this too much, I don’t want to do it as a job”. I was worried about taking something I actually enjoyed and turning it into a headache. Over time I tuned into what I liked apart from what I didn’t like, making it easier to still enjoy it, but it took me a while to figure out what to do.
I went to college a bit for teaching, history, art; I even tried my hand at animation. After attending a couple of schools in Texas, I realized that it wasn’t for me. I had been out of school for a while and still wasn’t sure what I should be doing, so when I was twenty-four I tried to go back. But coming back after having that other college experience and being at the point I was in my life, I acknowledged that a long time ago I realized that college was more about learning how to learn about things, and I could already do that on my own. I started programming at an early age, so I think it’s pretty obvious I’m a person that can learn on their own. Coding comes pretty easily to me because of that—the tech world is always shifting and changing, so I’m able to up with it and roll with the punches. I remember being in classes or doing work, and thinking, “Why do I need to do this? I already know how to do this stuff!” I mean, I’m sure going to MIT would be completely different, buuuuuut this wasn’t quite the same experience. So I left that behind for good.
Other than a few brief stints in college, you’ve basically been working in tech since you were a teenager?
Yeah, it’s crazy to think of it that way, but yeah. Like I said, I started the internet service provider when I was 16 and then when I was 20, I moved to Texas for a job in finance tech doing systems management. As a systems engineer, I was migrating from an old school FilePro system to a modern (at the time) custom perl application. It was pre-cloud days so lots of hardware config and whatnot. I wasn’t programming, but at the time it felt like it was how I oriented—I thought I’d be better in that area than actual coding.
Eventually my wife and I wanted to move back to Pennsylvania to be closer to family. I worked as a website programmer, and things started snowballing in that direction. I tried to turn back to systems, but I’m kind of a hybrid now of systems and development. I have strengths in both, but if I focus on one I either don’t feel like I’m doing everything I can be doing, or I burn out.
We eventually moved to North Carolina, where I started working for a AAA video game studio. For a long time I had wanted to work in games—I had friends who went to work in games, and how they talked about it made it sound great. I tried a long time to break into the video games market and I finally did. After several years of being at the studio, I realized that that work-life balance just wasn’t for me and I eventually burned out. If I had gone on to another gig immediately after leaving, I probably would have left within a week. That’s how exhausted I was. I’m thankful for the experience, but glad that I’ve moved on.
And now I’m here at We Write Code. There are a few other things here and there, but that about sums it up.
Being in North Carolina, how did you get involved with We Write Code?
I actually met Levi [We Write Code’s Founder] years ago. And, surprise, it was because of our mutual love of video games. He had a game server project he was working on for a pre-existing game and he was looking for developers. I was interested in it, so I got on board. There were six of us on the original project, and we’re the only two people on the project who still keep in touch. We’ve had several “million dollar projects” over the years that have obviously fizzled out and went nowhere, but it was only a matter of time before we worked together again.
What is it about tech you like so much that you’ve been interested in it all these years?
How fast the world changes. I have ADHD so it’s hard for me to stay focused in one area for too long, so with how fast everything changes it never affords you the ability to become comfortable and just stay the course. In order to stay on top of things, you have to put in the effort to do so. It works well with how my brain functions.
Final question: If you weren’t a developer, what do you think you’d be?
I…huh. I have no idea. I really don’t know. I tried to keep out of the tech world, but it kept me back. My post-tech retirement goal is to open a BBQ place, and I’ve toyed with the idea of making an Indie game if I had the time and budget. But where I’ve ended up is basically where I think I’m supposed to be for now.