Employee Q&A: Ben Liu - Co-op Student Turned Senior Software Developer
Feb 25, 2022
7 min read
By: Lucy Bragg

In only two years, Ben Liu transitioned from a co-op student to a Senior Software Developer at Mappedin. Astonishingly, he now manages his own co-op student. We delve into his journey and his reasons for why a Software Developer should start structuring their career at Mappedin.

Ben, thanks for chatting with me. To begin, can you tell us about your current role at Mappedin?

I’m currently a Senior Software Developer on the Product and Platform team, specifically team Ship It, which is primarily responsible for our pre-built front end applications: Mappedin Web and the Mappedin directory experience. I’m responsible for maintaining those two applications, along with a host of other smaller applications, and I’m the technical owner of the Mappedin Web V2 experience. 

You’ve had an impressive journey at Mappedin over the last two years! You started as a co-op student, transitioned into a part-time employee, and now manage your own co-op student. How has this experience been for you?

It's been pretty crazy; I definitely didn't think that I would progress so fast. I was quite lucky in terms of timing because when I first joined Mappedin as a co-op student, I got to jump right in and work on a huge feature upgrade to one of our primary pre-built products. We were working on our next generation directory upgrade, and there was a significant chunk of improvement work, so I learned a lot about how it works.

After my 8-month co-op, I started working at Mappedin part-time, and we decided to work on the Web V2 experience. I got the opportunity to work with Anzor, the Principal Software Developer, on building the foundations of this entirely new upgraded version of the web experience. He’s an incredibly smart guy, and while he moved on to bigger projects, I remained and continued to work on Web V2 and directories.

I was lucky enough to gain a lot of knowledge on the directories, and after Anzor moved to other projects, I was left as the most knowledgeable person on the web experience; which is crazy given the circumstances. Getting all of that experience was really helpful in enabling me to adopt more responsibilities and take on more projects. 

Do you think there are opportunities for career growth and development for developers at Mappedin?

Yes absolutely. Personally, that’s probably the biggest benefit for me working at a smaller company like Mappedin - the accelerated rate of growth. The company is always growing, we’re always recruiting new people, and we’re always looking to promote existing employees into higher positions. 

Currently, I’m hoping to step into more managerial positions. Normally someone in my position with my level of experience would not be afforded that sort of opportunity, but here at Mappedin, I have been given the opportunity to work towards those goals so early on in my career which I think is pretty lucky. It’s not something that I would expect to get anywhere else. 

How would you describe Mappedin’s culture and team environment?

Very fun and friendly. I’ve done co-ops in a few bigger companies and there’s a lot of bureaucracy and administration that you have to go through to get anything done, but it’s not like that at Mappedin. If there’s something I want to work on, or if there’s an idea that I have, I can easily reach out to Ed Wei, the CTO; or Hongwei, the CEO, which isn’t something that you would normally get at a larger company. 

What are some things that the Product and Platform team is working on right now?

Right now, we’re prioritizing enhancements to the Web V2 experience. Roughly a year or so ago, we launched the second version of our mapping web experience, which is a complete overhaul of the original experience. It’s built from the ground up using TypeScript, and uses much more updated technologies and practices. 

Over the past several months, we’ve been continuing to work on maintaining that application while adding new features. Currently, we’re adding a feature that will allow users to save an arbitrary location when they’re in a building or mall; for instance, you can save your spot in the parking lot and navigate back to it later. 

What aspects of your job do you find the most rewarding?

Predominantly, the most rewarding aspect has been the agency and ownership that I’ve been given over our products. And most recently, it would be the increase in management responsibilities that I’ve been given. 

I feel like the work that I put in is actually meaningful because my superiors and those managing me take an interest in the things that I do. If I excel, I’m rewarded, and if I’m veering off of the right path, then I’m given feedback right away to correct it. 

Is there one thing you like most about working at Mappedin?

When people ask me why I like working here, one of the things that I tend to say is the opportunity for growth; it’s easy to progress in your career at Mappedin. Don’t get me wrong, the people are also great. I love the people I work with and enjoy the team activities every week, but the opportunity for growth has been invaluable to my career.

Being able to get to this point relatively early in my career is amazing. Even if I didn’t work with great people and have a great environment, which I do, I would still stay at Mappedin because I don’t think I could have gotten these opportunities anywhere else. 

We’re hiring for many developer roles currently at Mappedin. Why should a developer come to Mappedin right now?

We’re hiring two Team Leads, a Front End Developer, a Full Stack Developer, and a Developer Evangelist (see our open roles here). I think developers should come to Mappedin for a lot of reasons. The company is growing quite rapidly, so if you’re looking to work at a fast-growing company with a lot of opportunities for growth and promotion, or to get experience with different technologies, then this is an excellent place to work. 

Even if you’re not looking to go into management or something like that, Mappedin is a place where developers can grow very quickly and learn a lot of new skills. If you get hired as a Front End Developer, but after a while you decide that you want some experience in back end or something else, then people will make that happen. As long as we have the resources, we’ll try our best to facilitate those opportunities, because that same person might grow into an excellent Back End Developer, and we don’t want to get in the way of that. We want developers to explore their utmost potential. 

Do you have any advice for a developer who wants to apply here?

My only advice is to apply! We have a lot of products that are very visible on the web and out in the wild, so if you visit any number of places that have our products (for instance the Toronto Eaton Centre or Conestoga Mall in Waterloo) or if you visit any of our customers’ websites, you can see exactly what it is that we do. If that looks interesting to you, I personally think it’s pretty interesting, then just apply! You’ll get to meet me or some of the other people on the development team and it’ll be a great time working together.

Interested in working with Ben? Check out our Careers Page for all open roles, or send an email to our recruitment team at careers@mappedin.ca.