A behind-the-scenes look at the people who make us great.
Welcome to the Cogent Crew series, where every month we’re inviting you to get to know a little more about the people at Cogent.
This month Mary spoke to Samantha about what it’s like to go through the Cogent on boarding process remotely, their dreams of becoming a lock keeper on a French canal and how a tweet helped land them at Cogent.
Name: Samantha Schaffer
Time at Cogent: 3 and a half months
Thanks again for joining me. So, let’s start with how long you’ve been at Cogent.
I actually looked it up the other day and did the math on it to make sure I’d get it right! I started working at Cogent on October fourth. So, as of today it’s been 109 days, which is 30% of a year, or three and a half-ish months, which is so much longer than I would’ve said if you’d just asked me on the spot.
It feels like you’ve been here longer than that! How have you been finding it so far?
I love it. It’s so good.
What do you think is the best part about it?
Even though I came on as a remote worker (even more remote than most people at Cogent, since I live in Adelaide) I instantly felt properly part of the Cogent team. There were no growing pains, I just instantly felt so supported and included and it’s such a great environment. Obviously the people and values are great but I think there’s more to it.
Some work we do is obvious, like writing code as a programmer. But it can be less obvious to put conscious effort towards building relationships with your coworkers, making sure the members of your team feel appreciated, making sure everyone’s doing okay, etc. And everyone at Cogent is more than willing to do that kind of work makes it such a special place.
Victor Harbour, SA.
That’s great to hear and makes a lot of sense. How did you get into what you do? Tell us a little bit about your role.
So I’m a developer, which means I spend a lot of time programming, thinking about problems and how we could solve them with/without software. How’d I get into this? Gosh, I’ve always been really into computers and when I was younger I started with doing PC repair, IT, networking, and then just gradually found my way over to software development. It’s really nice being able to make things but I’m not super great with my hands, so programming is a good middle ground!
Can you tell us what your typical day at Cogent looks like?
One of my favorite things is that I don’t often have a typical day. It depends on the project. Currently I’m working at RedBubble on their Android team to give them some Boost capacity. My typical day is similar to the rest of the RedBubble team: working on tickets and doing some programming on the app, testing, that kind of thing. Whereas on my first project at Cogent was a Clarify, which involved no programming! Instead it was mainly just just talking to clients, really thinking about their problem, exploring how the problem could be solved, and lending a technical view to that conversation. I found that kind of work really enjoyable and fulfilling. There’s been a lot of variety, which I really love.
On the flip side, if you weren’t doing what you’re doing (which sounds like you’re enjoying) what would you be doing instead?
I really like what I do and I’m so glad to have found it. But that being said, there is always a small part of me that just wants to run away and be a lock keeper on a French canal! That would easily be my dream job, if I weren’t doing this!
Samantha at a spoken word poetry reading.
How did you find out about and end up at Cogent? What’s the story there?
It’s a weird story. I had been unemployed for a bit, and on a whim, I posted on Twitter saying, “I’m a really good programmer, someone hire me.” I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but a bunch of people retweeted it, and Erin reached out and said “Come work at Cogent!” So I applied and went through the whole process! Cogent wasn’t the only place I looked at, but it was definitely the best. Not just out of the places I found because of the tweet, but the best I’ve ever seen, really. I knew I was in a good position where I wasn’t super desperate for a job, so I had the privilege of being able to be a bit picky. I was very happy to pick Cogent!
Thank you, we’re so glad you’re here too! I just love hearing all the stories of how people find Cogent. Because, we’re not exactly Google but we’re like this sweet little kingdom out of the way and people love it when they’re here! Ok, so what do you like to do on weekends, outside of work?
Yeah, so there’s a lot of the classic software developer answers like video games, board games, D&D, Magic: The Gathering. I also do a bit of personal game development, nothing huge, just micro games that are kind of artsy. Not artsy as in visual arts, but artsy as in a little pretentious! Outside of that, I do things like spoken word poetry, film photography, zine making, tarot reading. I’m just getting back into indoor bouldering after breaking my ankle six months ago while climbing. Oh, and I’ve recently started trying to pick up sewing, but I’m not very good at it yet.
Samantha on one of their weekend bouldering wall climbs.
Such great hobbies! You’re not originally from Australia are you, can you tell us a bit about your hometown?
I moved to Australia nine years ago this month, I just had my Aussieversary as I like to call it! I initially moved here just for uni, or at least I said just for uni at the time giving myself an out if I didn’t like it. But I loved it here and just ended up staying. I’m originally from southern New Jersey. My hometown itself is quite small but we spent a lot of time across the bridge in Philadelphia, so kind of the best of both worlds.
Australia’s pretty far from home, what drew you here?
I always feel bad because the story makes me sound like I was a reckless teenager (and that’s because I was at the time!). I always wanted to study overseas and it honestly didn’t really matter where because I was just bored of New Jersey. I only speak English, so that narrowed my options to the UK or Australia. I already had a few friends from the internet in Adelaide, so I came to visit for a week, and I really liked it. Six months later, I was starting my first semester at the University of Adelaide.
Where’s the best place that you’ve ever been to?
That’s an easy one, the Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, France, which is a beautiful botanic garden. There is so much cool art there, art that’s whimsical, interactive and tactile. First thing that pops to mind is a procession of benches that slowly get bigger. The smallest one is absurdly small and the biggest one is comically big. There were so many different things like that to engage with. And there’s also a kind of random goat petting zoo, it was great! We spent several full days there, it was that good!
Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, France
Sounds like great fun! Now, tell us about the scariest experience you’ve ever had.
Last August I was doing indoor rock climbing or specifically bouldering, which is indoor rock climbing with shorter walls, and no rope. I was at the top of a climb and couldn’t quite reach the last hold – which happens a lot because I’m pretty short. But this time I foolishly jumped for it and I definitely shouldn’t have. The jump was at an angle so I kind of spun a bit as I fell, my right foot planted and the rest of me…didn’t. So, I broke all three bones in my right ankle, had to have surgery to put some screws in to keep them together. Solid effort for my first ever broken bone.
Wow. That sounds intense. You’re a lot better now, right?
Yeah! I’m not quite back up with range of motion yet. I haven’t been doing my physio exercises as much as I should (don’t tell my physio!) but I’m totally back on my feet, walking around, it’s all good!
Ouch – Samantha’s ankle X-ray post a nasty fall. They’re on the mend now!
I usually have a food-related question that I like to leave for last and I know that you’re vegan. How long has it been since you switched over and tell us a little about your experience with it.
Gosh, it’ll be over a decade now, because I was vegan before I moved here. It can be a bit hard because I’m both picky and vegan! So, the first thing people find out is that I’m vegan since that usually rules out a lot of options. But sometimes after people find out, then the next time I see them, they’ll be like, “I made this vegan thing specifically for you.” But as a picky eater I’ll still have to politely decline, which I feel so bad about since they went out of their way!
Well, let’s leave it up to you to pick the restaurant for your next visit to the Treehouse in Melbourne! Thanks for your time, Samantha.
Like the idea of joining the Cogent team? Head over to the Cogent Careers page and say hello!