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Meet Max, Esc’s Wonder (Coder) Boy

Max is a little bit of a genius. Even though he will probably get embarrassed by my saying so (but hey, I write the blog…) He’s only 18 and already knows more about coding than you or I probably ever will. Here, he shares his story about choosing to bypass university and come work with us instead. 

What you were doing before working at Esc?

I was studying as a Sixth Form/high school student, doing A levels. Although I had a good time at school, and I learnt some cool stuff, I didn’t really enjoy it and found it boring.

Because of that I had a tendency to try and make use of my limited free time as much as possible to do what I enjoyed doing most – creating things: games and websites with code; music with my guitar. As such I was working non stop and didn’t give myself any time to wind down… Even just sitting down and watching TV felt like a complete waste of time.

I always felt the need to be productive because in just a few hours I would be stuck being bored in a classroom again. Don’t get me wrong – I worked hard and did well in school – but it wasn’t particularly fulfilling. Memorising facts to regurgitate them in an exam isn’t my cup of tea, I’m afraid.

Following a stressful 72 hour online game jam in December (basically an event where you have to create a game from scratch within a time limit with a particular theme) I completely burnt out and had no willpower to do anything at all for about two weeks. Luckily those two weeks happened to be the winter holidays so my school work didn’t suffer. It was annoying, because half of me was saying, “Why am I sitting around doing nothing? I need to be productive!” and the other half was like, “Ugh, I just can’t be bothered…” It was a pretty horrible experience.

After I recovered it was a similar pattern until study leave for final exams. One of the upsides of it all was that I was able to put all the things I programmed onto my CV.

How come you chose to work at Esc?

I wasn’t keen to go to university. I never really saw myself going as I grew up, and the rising costs are offputting. I also dread the idea of getting into debt. I just wanted to get out there and get working! Despite going to a very good school where nearly everyone is expected to go to university, my teachers were actually very supportive of my decision (to my surprise!) and I’m grateful for that.

Rather than just fall out of school without a job, I decided to go job hunting early on this year so that I’d have something solid to go on to afterwards. Thankfully I was going into an industry where a good portfolio can have more of an impact than a degree. One of the jobs I applied for was at New Bamboo – these guys made the current (at the time of writing) Escape The City site. I had a Skype interview with them, and although I wasn’t suited for the job, they referred me on to Dom and Rob (many thanks to Gwyn!).

Dom first emailed me in March. I remember the email being so enthusiastic that I thought it was some sort of advert at first! Obviously I emailed back, wanting to know more. I spoke to Dom on the phone and he told me all about Escape The City and what his future vision for the site was. I thought it was a cool idea, and could see a lot of potential in it.

After a couple months of emailing, a visit to the new office (where I met Dom, Kelly and Fabio; everyone else was out at the time) and doing a small programming task on the site, I was offered a job! I couldn’t wait to start… I started the week following my final exam!

I find it quite funny how I did something different by not applying for university… and joined a company whose slogan is, “Do something different!”

Best thing about working here?

I get to do one of my hobbies in a relaxed environment with cool people! It doesn’t feel like work at all… I think the only bit that feels like work is the commute, and even then I’m starting to get used to it now, so it’s not too bad.

Another thing that’s great is that I actually feel like I can relax at home! I can now laze around and not feel guilty! And I love how Monday mornings aren’t scary anymore.

Worst thing about working here?

Javascript bugs.

What you’re learning every day on the job at Esc?

As I have such a varied role in the site’s development I get to work with and learn how to use all sorts of technologies and new ways of doing things all the time, which is cool.

What you’d like the Esc community’s help with?

If anyone finds any problems with the site, don’t hesitate to tell us. It’s our job to make sure you’re getting a quality experience, and that’s one way you can help us to do that!