Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Cody Eddings always liked computers. His fascination grew to the point that he hung out at at an unlikely place just to pick the brains of the people who worked there.
“I went to Best Buy all the time and asked them questions,” he told Technical.ly. “I realized I really liked doing that.”
Eddings’ high school guidance counselor recommended he apply to Lehigh University’s computer engineering program. After graduating from Lehigh in 2015, he stayed in the Lehigh Valley for two years to start his engineering career as a systems engineer at Grantek, where he worked on SCADA, a data system for solar or wind farms.
Things were going well — until Eddings was laid off. He knew that in his next role, he wanted to do something that touched everyday people. To him, that looked like building Android apps. He’d taught himself Android app development in his own time as the creator of musical app GuitarSim. He had experience and just needed an opportunity to display his skills. That came in December 2017 when he started a new job as an Android developer at ROAR For Good, the Philly-based wearable safety device startup founded by Yasmine Mustafa.
Eddings was laid off for the second time in three years in fall 2018, but something different happened this time around: Within two hours of announcing his job search on the Philly Dev Slack, three people reached out to him about job opportunities at their organizations (another tally mark for Slack’s networking usefulness). He later joined the tech team at URBN, the parent company of brands such as Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie that’s based in the Navy Yard.
As a lead Android engineer, Eddings is responsible for app development for Nuuly, URBN’s subscription clothing rental service. Located in Bristol, Pennsylvania, Nuuly’s distribution center is reliant upon a factory floor run on Android tablets. Eddings created a suite of kiosk-style apps that could help people working at the distribution center more easily do their jobs.
“We try to introduce intelligent systems to make all that logic as intuitive as possible,” he said.
Eddings attributes his learning how to code to his computer engineering degree: He entered Lehigh as a savvy computer technician but didn’t know the first thing about coding. His major also involved aspects of computer science and hardware, making it a great introduction for emerging developers to learn the basics of software. In developing apps for Android now he uses Kotlin, a language that is interoperable with Java, which was one of the first languages he learned.
There is much debate about the practical value of a college degree in terms of preparation for coding-heavy jobs. Eddings believe that most important to starting on the path to a career like his is to “at least have a fundamental understanding of how to code. You can teach yourself or go to bootcamps, but pick one language and stick with it. Understanding Java is a foundational building block.”
To point is to start somewhere, he said: “Learning one language, you can learn any.”
Writing large-scale apps in a corporate environment was a major adjustment for Eddings. By comparison, he considers coding on his own to be “the Wild West.” Working in a team environment means he is collaborating with more people, frequently documenting his work and writing tests so that someone coming after him can understand what he did.
As Eddings moves further into his career, entrepreneurship has also become an interest. He is one of four cofounders of SnapRefund, a local startup designed to integrate into merchant websites and allow ecommerce consumers to get instant refunds. Like many technologists, balancing his own project with his day job is a challenge that he happily accepts.
“I’ve always been someone who’s wanted to be an entrepreneur and provide something of value,” he said. “I enjoyed having a grind. It requires insane amounts of work ethic. Your goal is that one day you can focus on one thing you want to do. It’s a fun challenge to see how each can help the other.”
Years after being a wide-eyed kid walking around the sales floor of his local Best Buy asking employees about how different computers worked, Eddings is still just as in love with technology. Google News updates about new Android releases and YouTube recordings of tech conferences make him smile. That passion feeds his work, and in turn, his work continues to captivate him.
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.