Are you looking for a rewarding new job opportunity as a software engineer in Ann Arbor, Michigan? Lakeside Software is hiring both entry-level and experienced software developers to join our growing engineering team.
Keep reading, this could be the opportunity for you.
Founded in 1997, Lakeside is an award-winning IT software company based in Michigan with offices worldwide. Lakeside specializes in digital experience monitoring and has consistently released industry-leading solutions for understanding and monitoring end-user experience. Our product, SysTrack, is used by thousands of large organizations in over 40 countries to optimize and improve their IT environments.
Lakeside’s engineering department is based in our R&D office, which is located in the historic First National building in downtown Ann Arbor.
We know it can be tough to figure out what it might be like to work at a company. That’s why we’ve interviewed our VP of Engineering, Ed Wegryn, to help you get a feel for Lakeside Software’s culture and job expectations. We invited Ed onto our podcast to answer six of the most common questions he gets from interview candidates. You can listen to the interview in iTunes, Spotify, or by searching for Lifeguard IT in your favorite podcast app.
Below is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.
Click to open transcription
H: I’m Heather Bicknell, the product marketing manager at Lakeside. I’m joined with my co-host Linda Tsao, who’s one of our applied engineers.
L: Hey guys.
H: As you might’ve gathered from the episode title, we’re doing things a little differently this week. This is part of a series where we interview people in the company about what it’s like to work at Lakeside. It’s a great one to share with any software developers, computer science graduates you know who might be looking for a new opportunity. We have an earlier episode where we interviewed one of devs about his first year at Lakeside. That was episode 15 if you’d like to check that one out. But today we have our VP of Engineering, Ed Wegryn in the studio with us. Thanks for joining us, Ed.
E: Thanks for having me.
H: A little bit of background about Lakeside for those who aren’t familiar. We are an award-winning IT analytics company specializing in what’s known as digital experience monitoring. We’re based in Michigan, but we have offices all over the globe. And we were founded in 1997 by our CEO Mike Schumacher. So, our solution is called SysTrack and Ed, I’m wondering in a world full of software, why did you decide to work on SysTrack? What keeps you excited about the product?
E: I guess if you’re honest, I didn’t decide to work on SysTrack, I decided to work at Lakeside. It seemed like a good opportunity. Didn’t know much about the company at the time, but it was a great opportunity to start up the Ann Arbor office and so I jumped at that. I’m from Ann Arbor and it seemed like an interesting challenge and, so far, has proven to be. Learned obviously about SysTrack after that and took a little while to get up to speed on that. But now that I fully understand it, I guess, the answer to that is that it’s the product, I want it to succeed, I want it to be the best. But the actual part to me and I think the rest of the developers is the challenge that comes with developing the product. So, yes, we’re all proud of putting out a product that sells well and is well talked about and is stable and is designed well, runs well. But I think it’s the challenges of adding new features to something that is what really makes it entertaining and fun to work here right now and, as that relates to SysTrack, it’s a fast-changing product. The owner is sort of the visionary and he has a huge list of new features and he’ll walk in and drop a dozen features on you in a minute and they’re pretty clever but not all the way worked out and then the team gets to sit down and work that out with the various people in the company. So, I think that aspect of it is what is really great in terms of working here right now, is the technology involved and the rate of advancement that we’re making and the amount of new stuff that we get to work on.
L: So, how would you respond if someone asked you, “Why would I want to be a developer at Lakeside Software?”
E: Well I think it’s a variation on what I just said. And sometimes when I’m talking to the younger recruits one of the questions that they’ll ask me is similar to that. But it’s, you know, what’s the culture like or how does this compare to some of the bigger companies. And I think that, I started my career, I always answer them with a story that I started at a little three-person place where I was the third person. The other two guys did the hardware; they were the owners. I did the software right out of school. And that was nice. They could close down the office and did and we’d go play golf in the afternoon. That’s where I learned to golf. I’m not good at it, but that was the extent of it. But it came with some instability in terms of finances and “where’s the next job coming from?”. Moved to a medium-sized company that was here in town and over the course of many years when I worked there it got purchased four times and became supposedly the seventh-largest software company and was competing with Oracle. And that came with a different set of pros and cons. And, so, I’ve sort of seen the whole gamut in my career. And just like I always tell the recruits, it’s sort of like Goldilocks and the three bears. That middle spot is sort of the sweet spot. And I think Lakeside is just moving into that sweet spot right now. So, it’s a really fun time to watch it grow into the middle tier where in my career at least I’ve had the most fun.
H: This might be a bit of a dreaded question, but how would you describe your management style?
E: Let’s see…
H: Or, hard to answer, I guess.
E: Yeah, it’s hard. I don’t really know that I have a “style,” at least that I recognize. It’s hard to say. I’m sure the team members could give you a better sense of what they think my style is. I think it’s sort of “working hard and playing hard.” We expect a lot from people, but we want to have some fun doing this. It is, after all, a job. We’re passionate about it and we enjoy it, but it’s a job and we don’t want to kill ourselves or go crazy or have people burn out. We want to do something fun and something good for the company, but not be too intense about it.
L: To give people a good idea of whether they’d be a good fit at Lakeside, what are some qualities you look for in candidates?
E: I think this goes back to, again, my previous job where I was first a manager and we would go out and we would recruit from various universities around the Midwest. We would fly out (again, it was a bigger place) and each manager could bring back ten candidates. So, we’d have 30-50 candidates in—we’d call them recruiting days—and they got scattered around amongst the other five managers and everybody cross-pollinated with reviews. And at the end of the day we’d all sit in the room and the VP would go through the candidates and he would say “What about so-and-so?” And the bulk of them would raise their hand and he was the decider and he’d say, “Okay, it sounds like this is a good fit for your team.” And I didn’t raise my hand at the same time as the rest of them. There’d be somebody that was going in the discard pile and I’d raise my hand and say, “Well, I’d like that person.” I think what I learned was that I want someone that understands the computer, likes the computer, knows how to make the computer do what they want and it’s a tool that they know how to use well. School is fine-tuning that. It’s giving them some more experience and some more tools. But at their core, they really need to know how to make the computer dance basically. And, so, your grade point might not be the greatest and if you can explain to me why with some valid reasons, that’s okay. If you had an internship at a bar as a bartender (that was me, for example, in college—and I thought I learned a ton of things). If I can ask you, “What did you learn in that experience?” and you can give me a good answer, I’m going to value that a lot more than a fancy internship where I know they had you testing or entering bugs or something like that.
H: Ed, I know you’ve led a lot of the effort to bring more activities into the Ann Arbor office. So, we have stuff like basketball going on now, there’s a pool table, we do yoga, we do trivia, we have Friday afternoon movie nights. What are some of your favorite Lakeside activities?
E: The ones I don’t have to plan. No, I think—I was thinking about this and the one that comes to mind is one that we just got emailed about a little while ago and that’s—we have for the last two or three years taken the whole team out to the local food bank and volunteered to sort. It usually ends up sorting food, basically whatever they need. I know this sounds cliché and like this was planned or we want to have a good soundbite “we went to the foodbank.” But it has nothing to do with that. I’m being completely honest. This turns out to be a blast actually. You’re there putting your hand in rotten tomatoes. But what’s fun about it to me is to watch how the team comes together. So, everybody from all the different roles is coming together, working their butts off, everybody’s flying around trying to help the others, folding boxes, picking them up, moving them out. And both of the times we’ve done it so far, we seem to have impressed the foodbank employees with how fast we work and how quickly we went through all the tasks at hand. Maybe they just tell that to everybody and I’m deceiving myself. It’s always just sort of a joy to me to watch, if I’ve had a hand in pulling the team together, to watch them come together like that, have a lot of fun, and do something good.
L: So, to give our listeners some background, our headquarters is in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan but most of our engineers work in the R&D office in Ann Arbor. So, to help those who might not be familiar with the area, how would you describe working in downtown Ann Arbor?
E: I’m not sure if you guys are aware or not, but I’m about as Ann Arbor as you can get. I was born in the old St. Joe hospital that doesn’t even exist now. It’s part of U of M; it’s the econ building. I’ve been out of Ann Arbor for a few years here and there and all over the world, but I keep coming back. I went to school here, went to high school, went to U of M across the street, and now live here, my kids grew up here. So, I’m definitely familiar with Ann Arbor. The surprising part to me when I started working downtown was how different it was than, at that point, 30-some years of growing up and knowing Ann Arbor. On a day-to-day basis, just walking around at lunch and noticing things that I never noticed before, sights and sounds and it seemed like a big city, like I was in Chicago or something. Whereas previously, we would come downtown maybe in the evening to go to dinner or something like that or see a movie. So, sort of hit-and-run even though I grew up here, I walked down here, I played pinball here, but it changed completely when I started working down here. It was a live, active, fun city, which never seemed like it to me before.
H: Well, I think those are all great answers. Thank you so much again Ed for joining us on the podcast. Those interested in applying can check out our current postings at lakesidesoftware.com/careers. You can also navigate to the accompanying blog post on our blog that will have extra info and relevant links if you want to know more about applying. Don’t forget to share this episode with anyone you know who might be interested in a new opportunity. If you feel so inclined, don’t forget to subscribe and rate and review this episode. We will be back to our regular programming in a few weeks. As always, thank you so much for listening.