Beam’s Head of Communications caught up with Alex Rudall, a Senior Full-Stack Developer at Beam, to find out more about his journey and what life at Beam has been like so far.
Hey Alex. How would your colleagues describe you in 3 words?
I’d like to think something like listens, moves fast and finds simple solutions to complex problems. Sorry, that’s more than 3 words!
How would you describe your role in two sentences?
My role is to solve problems for Beam’s beneficiaries, caseworkers, supporters and partners, using technology to make the solutions as scalable as possible. This involves designing, building and maintaining web products using Ruby on Rails, Vue.JS and other modern web technologies.
What led you to Beam?
I came across Beam a few years ago at a jobs fair for people in the tech industry called Silicon Milkroundabout. It was my goal at that time to work in tech at a startup that was focused on doing social good, but Beam wasn’t hiring developers at that time.
Beam’s founding engineer is one of the best in the business, Julian Keenaghan, who was the sole developer at the time. When I saw that Beam was hiring more developers in 2021, I jumped at the chance to work with such an exciting team and company.
What's a piece of work you're really proud of?
Last year, I ran a project focused on improving the number of work outcomes for our beneficiaries. Up until this point, Beam’s caseworkers (we call them Operations Executives or OEs) would manually match beneficiaries with jobs using spreadsheets, which was pretty inefficient and there were a lot of missed opportunities.
I worked with our team of OEs to build an automatic job matching system that takes the beneficiaries career that they’re interested in, what hours they want to work, and other parameters and matches them with suitable jobs. It’s doubled the rate of job applications we’re sending out. That was impactful and fun to work on, and technically had some interesting challenges!
Are they any cool projects you’re working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on the mobile version of Beam’s website, specifically for our beneficiaries. We call it the “Beam Hub”. From the touch of their smartphone, Beam beneficiaries can now book in calls with their caseworker, see what jobs are available near them, respond to messages from supporters and so much more.
We’re working on creating the same quality of experience that you get from mobile apps like Deliveroo, but for homeless people. They’re an extremely under-served group when it comes to technology, so it’s exciting to build an experience that will genuinely benefit them.
What does a typical day or week look like for you?
Each day starts with a standup - a short 15 minute meeting with all the developers to talk about what we did yesterday, our plans for that day and any blockers we might be facing. From then on, there’s usually 4-6 hours of pretty focused coding work, which can involve pairing, or collaboration with other people.
Throughout the week, I’ll check in with different people including our CEO Alex and the ops team to make sure we’re working on the right things. We also have product meetings every fortnight to plan the next sprint. We try to keep meetings quite light at Beam - all meetings have a purpose and we don’t like to waste time.
How does Beam differ from places you’ve worked before?
The quality of colleagues across the business is next level. The product design and product decisions we’re getting are high quality, so I’m only ever working on stuff that’s worth building. I also have a lot of autonomy to make product decisions and to choose what I work on, which is great.
Beam’s mission - creating equality of opportunity at scale - is also a big differentiating factor from anywhere I've worked before. Everyone at Beam is passionate and motivated by their work, which is pretty rare.
What would you say to someone else thinking about working at Beam?
Working at Beam is in many ways a dream job. You get to work at a VC-funded startup with excellent colleagues, high growth, cutting edge technology, great equipment, all while creating genuine social impact and changing people’s lives. Whatever your role is at Beam, you’re directly helping homeless people get homes and jobs.
A final point for developers - Beam is perfect for someone who doesn't want to be siloed. It’s not a job where you can just work by yourself for long periods of time. You need to be open to collaborating, discussing ideas and moving quickly - if you enjoy those things, you’ll love working at Beam!
Beam is currently hiring for a Full Stack Engineer (Ruby on Rails). Check out the role here: https://careers.beam.org//jobs/1054552-full-stack-engineer-ruby-on-rails