Employee Spotlight: Jenna Rose, Front-End Web Developer
Jenna Rose, our front-end web developer and photographer, has worn many hats at Gard Communications over the last five years (all color-coordinated, of course). She joined the firm in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of North Texas. She previously managed a busy veterinary hospital, where she wrangled excited puppies and wandering kittens just as often as paperwork. Today, she wrangles web and digital projects like a true professional, no matter the size of the beast.
Jenna, what exactly do you do? Describe a typical day at work.
My general task list can vary greatly from day to day, which certainly keeps things interesting. I manage more than 10 websites at any given time, so part of my job is to routinely check them and keep them updated with the latest software and plugins to ensure their security.
Depending on client needs, I can either spend an entire day coding, optimizing SEO and reporting on Google Analytics, assisting with social media ad campaigns, writing web marketing strategy proposals, posting on our blog, proofing web ads, tweaking ads in InDesign, or assisting our director of web and digital, Julia, with wireframes and web design concepts in Omnigraffle and Photoshop. Most often, it’s a fun mix of several of the above.
Once every few months or so, I team up with our creative director, John, on photo shoots and TV shoots. I film and photograph for a variety of ads, including billboards, web ads, print ads, and transit ads. Because part of our work involves integrated ad campaigns, we like to photograph the action on set so our print ads and billboards match the TV spots. We get to shoot in a variety of locations, and getting to travel around and meet new people on set is one of my favorite perks.
What’s the most surprising thing about your work?
Most people are surprised by how long a web-related project can take. One seemingly small design change that only takes five minutes to mock up in Photoshop can take five hours of coding. You have to account for how it will affect the entire framework of the site, and ensure it’s compatible with all corresponding plugins and apps, as well as browsers and different mobile devices. Plus, web technology is constantly evolving – so even more considerations may be necessary in the future.
Also, the ability to time travel. I start coding at 9am and suddenly it’s 3pm, and I didn’t even use a TARDIS.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?
Solving problems. It sounds simple, but it almost never is – and the challenge is what keeps me excited.
I fell in love with code because it’s a language and an architecture all of its own – a beautiful, intricate culture to explore. And the more you learn, the more you realize just how vast it truly is. The reward in web development is the ability – and necessity – to explore.
A bonus reward for me is seeing my photography work out in Portland, most often on billboards and Trimet buses. There’s a deep satisfaction to seeing the fruits of your labor out in the world.
Of all your past experiences, whether personal, educational, or professional, what’s influenced you the best for what you do now?
I’ve always had an affinity for technology of all kinds. I grew up with video games, my first being the original Nintendo around age six, and my parents would let me play with old cameras and computer equipment that no longer worked in reality, but worked wonderfully in my imagination. Most of my childhood home videos show me obnoxiously asking to be behind the video camera so I could see how it worked, and not in front of it with the other kids.
The curiosity never left, and I’m extremely fortunate that I get to play with tech as my real job – and not just my imagination.
What’s your favorite activity in your free time?
I tend to vacillate between hobbies, often depending on the season. But I have to say I probably enjoy travel the most. Whether it’s a weekend road trip to the coast or a full-fledged trip to explore Colorado’s mountains, I’m happy to just be experiencing new things. Going to the local restaurants, talking to community artisans, and really getting a feel for the way people live.
I also really enjoy whitewater rafting and hiking. And video games, because this is Portland and the weather isn’t always raft- or hike-friendly.
What are you reading right now? What’s the next book on your reading list?
The last book I read was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, which I knew I had to read after how much I appreciated Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I know I’m a couple of years late to the party, but they were both amazing and had me laughing out loud every other page. Since I usually stick to fiction, it was a nice change of pace.
I’m currently reading the comic book series Hawkeye by the legendary Matt Fraction, which is nothing short of fantastic, and I have at least 20 more comic series to get through after this. The list is never-ending and beautiful. Comics are a relatively recent interest of mine, and one I’m positive will stick. Let’s just say you can’t date a comic book illustrator (and connoisseur) without also falling in love with comics.
At Gard, we’re proud of our diverse and talented team and value their unique voice and style. Our employee spotlights are a tribute to their hard work and dedication. Check out past interviews and stay tuned for the next one.