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Get to know the people of Cloud City. In this regular (and sometimes irregular) series, we sit down with our designers, engineers and other team members to talk about development, consulting and life in general.

Today, we’re chatting with Cain Watson, a new member of the Cloud City engineering team. Read on to discover how he approaches development, dancing and rescuing plants (from himself).

Cain Watson

Senior Software Engineer

Currently reading: “The Golden Compass,” Philip Pullman
Currently binging: Mr. Robot
Currently listening to: A lot of KAYTRANADA, particularly “What You Need,” featuring Charlotte Day Wilson

You love documentation and communication. Why is that?

Crystal-clear requirements and open communication are important for developers, product managers, clients and their end-users to all be on the same page.

I don’t want to waste time talking past each other or misunderstanding if a button matters to the end-user. Timely context helps speed up development and the resulting experience for our clients and their customers.

What inspires you about software development?

Leaving code and people better than when I find them. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, maybe it’s the former teacher in me. But from an efficiency point of view and a general empathy perspective, I really appreciate this mindset.

Having clear structure and documentation is so valuable to me for shipping great work for clients. I don’t want anyone later on having to deal with messy spaghetti code.

You mentioned teaching. What was that like?

I guess I did really well with my coding bootcamp, because they eventually hired me to instruct new students.

As a newcomer, you have some leeway whether you strive for deep mastery or more surface-level understanding. As a teacher, you can’t pretend you know concepts or technical details. Teaching reinforced my need to gain deep understanding. It’s important to me to help clients and colleagues learn and be empowered.

Are you actively teaching now?

No, I instructed at Operation Spark for two years. These days, I’m a student again, but with dance, actually. I’m taking a lot of classes to find out what I really enjoy, like contemporary dance and even stuff like jazz fusion and Capoeira.

How did you get started with dance?

My therapist pointed out that as a software engineer, my day to day is very technical (and sedentary). With dance, it’s more flowy and there’s more room for interpretation and personal expression.

Plus, it’s a fun and joyful way to get some exercise. For instance, I find waacking really interesting. Waacking is an expressive and dramatic form of dance, with an underground West Coast queer vibe.

Besides dance, what else do you enjoy outside work?

I recently got into caring for houseplants. In a way, I’m rescuing them from myself as I learn more about tending different plants.

I bought a big periwinkle that wound up losing leaves and petals, but I started watering it more and now it’s growing and the petals have come back. It’s been very satisfying, like, “Oh, you’re alive now.”

While I’m early on my plant journey, I’m already noticing parallels with software engineering. Tending code bases or plants, you need to be patient and have trust that hitting your schedules, like watering every day, will work out. No plant or project reaches maturity overnight.

The reluctant AP CompSci student becomes the software development master (and house plant gardening student).

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