PyDev of the Week: Emily Morehouse-Valcarcel

This week we welcome Emily Morehouse-Valcarcel (@emilyemorehouse) as our PyDev of the Week. Emily is the co-founder and Director of Engineering of Cuttlesoft. She recently spoke at PyCascades about Python’s AST. You can get a feel for what projects she is interested in over on her Github profile. Let’s take a few moments to get to know her!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I’m currently the Cofounder and Director of Engineering at a Cuttlesoft, a digital product development company. Before that, I studied Theatre, Criminology and Computer Science at the Florida State University. I didn’t actually discover programming until my junior year when I took an intro course and built an Enigma machine simulator. I fell in love! I really enjoy problem-solving and there’s always a new challenge to face and different things to learn or improve. I believe that if you ever get bored in the tech world, you’re doing it wrong. In my spare time, I enjoy playing video games, hiking with our dog (Colorado mountains are just incredible), photography, gardening, attending concerts, and indulging in Colorado’s amazing craft beer and food scene.

Why did you start using Python?

The CS program I went through was very driven by theory and fundamentals, so we mainly used C and C++. I found that most of the side projects I wanted to work on were more web driven at the time, so I picked up Python alongside my now husband and business partner. There were just SO many things you could use Python for – APIs, web apps, microcontrollers, web scraping – we wanted to do it all. It was such a vast change from what I first learned and was so much quicker to build something with than something like C++. But I love that Python is built with C. It makes it all come full circle for me.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I’m fluent in a fair few. I’m actually a huge language nerd! C, C++, JavaScript, Elixir, Ruby, Swift, Objective-C, Java, Perl (in my pre-Python days), HTML/CSS. One of my favorite programming books is called Seven Languages in Seven Weeks; Bruce Tate does an excellent job of covering multiple different languages to illustrate how different programming paradigms work. I highly recommend it. Python definitely tops them. It’s both incredibly elegant AND easy to use. You don’t find that often.

What projects are you working on now?

A fair few. One of the things I love about running an agency is that there are always a huge variety of things we work on. A few Python-driven web apps and APIs, some React clients for SPAs, and an Android app. We’re lucky to have a few long-term clients that we continue to iterate and add features to as well. We often work with non-profits or other tech companies, so it’s really rewarding to get to work on products that you’re interested in. Outside of work, I enjoy contributing to OSS projects (CPython and Axios are my two focuses currently). I also maintain a few plugins for Cordova/Ionic and enjoy playing around with different things like audio processing and image manipulation.

Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?

This is such a tough question. I’d have to pick Requests – it’s one of the first libraries I used that I really appreciated the care taken to design its interface and to be a great example of what Pythonic code should look like. I also think that Turtle is an awesome core library to open up the language to other uses and focus on teaching programming to kids.

How did you become an entrepreneur?

I stumbled into it! It was never my plan to run a business. I was in graduate school at the time while being recruited by a lot of huge tech companies, but I was also involved in a local co-working space/business incubator called Domi Station in Tallahassee, FL. Our first client found us before we’d even laid the groundwork of setting up contract boilerplates or a bank account! We had no idea how to run a business at the time, but our community was incredibly supportive and provided resources like a lawyer and accountant. Cuttlesoft would not exist today if it weren’t for Domi and their community. It can be stressful at times, but I’m really grateful to get to build a company that I have so much input in.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to found their own company?

Find your people to support you and find people you can learn from. Have a plan, but be willing to change it or throw it out and start over. It’s also incredibly important to have a co-founder or co-founders who share your vision but bring something unique to the table. I’m so lucky to have the relationship with my husband that empowers us to dovetail with each other incredibly well and run a company together. We help keep each other sane. And celebrate the small things! We had to remind ourselves that it was a huge accomplishment just to make it through our first year of running a business. Always make sure to give yourself credit.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I just have to say a HUGE thank you to the Python community. “Come for the language, stay for the community” could not be truer, and I believe there are amazing steps being taken to support diversity and welcoming all people. It shows in everything from the conferences to the documentation.

Thanks for doing the interview!

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