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July 18, 2018
Humans of Terminus: Stevie Vines, Software Engineer & Perpetual Learner
This post marks the start of #HumansofTerminus, a series we created to showcase the diverse spectrum of personalities, experiences, and beliefs we have at this company. It’s about showing how all of us are more than what we look like and what positions we hold. It’s meant to help us peel back the layers and get to the core of who we are — and what we find at that spot is often surprising.
Meet Stevie Vines
In Stevie’s own words…
Dream job growing up: I think I wanted to be a “professional gymnast” at one point. Little did I know that job doesn’t really exist. 🙂
First-ever job: My first-ever job was cutting grass with my dad, and my second-ever job was coaching a summer league diving team — where I met my future wife!
Favorite office snack: Terminus office snack? I really miss those chocolate covered almonds. My “dream” office snack would probably be plain Chobani yogurt plus fresh fruit and granola to add so I could have a low(er) sugar breakfast.
Years living in Atlanta: I lived in Atlanta from birth (1991) until college (2009), then again after graduating (2013) to present. So, in total, 23 of my 27 years so far.
Stevie Vines has been a software engineer with Terminus since 2015. A 20-minute drive on I-285 West from Terminus’ headquarters in Buckhead, Georgia will land you in the small, suburban city of Smyrna, Georgia, Stevie’s hometown. As a child, Stevie attended local public schools for his elementary and middle school education. As Stevie recalls, his middle school was one of the unlucky schools that was “left behind” in the No Child Left Behind Act of the early 2000s — leaving him and the other students without crucial educational resources and funding.
Propelled by his ambition, good grades, and early talent for diving, Stevie made a last-minute decision to apply to the one of the most prestigious and academically rigorous private high schools in the state, which also happened to have an excellent swimming and diving program: the Westminster Schools of Atlanta, Georgia. Stevie was accepted with a generous financial aid scholarship.
As a new kid entering the 9th grade (Westminster is K-12 private school, and thus the majority of students have known each other for several years before starting high school), Stevie impressed his new classmates with his penchant for doing backflips in the hallways. He developed many friendships, from his diving teammates, to the older kids he got to know through his status as an advanced math student, to the kids in his small foreign language class for late beginners.
As a child, Stevie participated in competitive trampoline. Jumping on a trampoline and doing flips in the air gave him a rush of adrenaline and excitement like nothing else he had ever done before. As he got older, Stevie found that propelling himself off a springboard into the air and then into a body of water gave him a familiar exhilaration. He decided to give diving a try.
Before he knew it, he was training at Westminster during their swim season from October through February and at Georgia Tech year-round with a one-month break each August. An average week for Stevie would include once-a-week training with Westminster and then a rigorous three hours of training five days a week with Georgia Tech’s head coach. Diving was part of Stevie’s daily routine from the summer before 8th grade all the way through college.
Diving affected Stevie’s life in more ways than he can count, but it didn’t just bring him trophies, mentors, and sense of accomplishment. It also brought him a partner and best friend: Katelyn Vines. It was a hot Georgia summer day when Stevie, then in high-school, met his long-time girlfriend and now wife, Katelyn, while they were coaching a summer little league diving team made up of six-year-olds. Stevie and Katelyn, who went to another high school, began dating and then went on to attend Princeton together. And the rest is history.
After four years at Westminster, Stevie traveled 870 miles north to spend his next four years at Princeton University, where he majored in psychology and earned a certificate in computer science. Stevie chose psychology because he found that the major was a balance of many of his academic interests: a study of the humanities grounded in research and and quantitative analysis. Additionally, the major had a lot of flexibility, and Stevie has always preferred an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
At Princeton, Stevie continued diving on Princeton’s Varsity team and also joined the Cloister Eating Club. Despite the name, eating clubs at Princeton are not food interest clubs, but the dominant social scene at the university. As Stevie explains, Princeton University owns 11 mansions on Prospect Street, which is right at the border of campus. Each of the 11 mansions is home to an Eating Club. Cloister was nicknamed “Floaters and Boaters” due its high volume of members of the Princeton swim and dive and rowing teams. Some of the Eating Clubs have rush processes resembling those of Greek life, but others, like Cloister, have more informal, membership processes.
A rite of passage for every college student, Stevie used his internship experiences as another opportunity to learn. During a summer break in college, Stevie took on an internship at a creative management firm in Los Angeles, where he collaborated with screenwriters to develop and edit scripts. He spent his days in the Valley reading scripts, giving feedback, making edits, and offering new approaches and ideas. By the end of his internship, Stevie had a sense that the filmmaking industry wasn’t one he could see himself in permanently. He had and still has a love for films, but these days he prefers being on the viewing end of the industry.
Stevie’s favorite part of his current role as a software engineer is the the specialized learning and craftsmanship aspects of it. He’s continuously learning new and better ways to write clean and testable code while on the job. Not surprisingly, Stevie thrives in roles that provide him with challenges.
Stevie Vines is not the type to idolize celebrities and famous figures. Instead, he relies on friends and family to inspire him and help him get through life’s challenges.
Stevie currently coaches younger divers in the Atlanta area. Whenever he needs inspiration, he finds it in Purdue University diving coach Adam Soldati, who coached the last U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist diver in 2012. Stevie is inspired by Soldati’s ability to be a husband and a father to six kids, to build and support extremely successful divers, and most importantly, to be bold and fearlessly public in his faith.
Stevie has more accessible role models, too. He has kept in touch with a former Westminster classmate’s father, who over the years has given Stevie priceless advice on raising a family and building wealth from a young age.
And last but certainly not least — Stevie and his wife Katelyn make strong partners through their similarities and their differences. Like Stevie, Katelyn has a passion for learning. At Princeton, she studied English and wrote a 100-page thesis before graduation. She’s also a photographer. In fact, she took the pictures on this blog during a recent vacation to Italy! Stevie says what makes Katelyn a talented photographer is her ability to see beauty in places where nobody else does. She is able to take the mundane and find the beauty in it. Stevie describes Katelyn as being positive, outgoing, and a dreamer, while Stevie is more rational, machine-oriented, and sometimes a little bit too logical. They meet in the middle to be stronger together.
On success habits…
A key takeaway from my conversation with Stevie is how eloquent and engaging of a speaker he is, and I have no doubt that this comes from his passion for literature of all kinds. In his own words, here’s a tip from Stevie:
“Much of my job is learning…but the learning is very specialized to software development, and so I want to keep on reading books covering other subjects areas and challenging myself.
I had a goal that I wanted to read more, so I started thinking about what I could do to successfully accomplish it. I read this article by Jerry Seinfeld; he once said that an up-and-coming comedian asked him, ‘How do you work on jokes? How do you be successful as a comedian?’
And Seinfeld said, ‘Here’s what you do: get a calendar, and every day, write a joke. And then put an X on the calendar.’
After you have a few days in a row, you have a chain going, and then it’s all about not breaking the chain. I took Seinfeld’s idea and applied it to my reading goal. So every day, I read 10 pages. A lot of days I’ll read way more than that, but it’s a minimum of 10 everyday. And even if I’m tired or have some excuse, I’m always going to do it. So I’m 392 days in — and that’s a lot of days. And now it’s like, am I really going to break my 392-day chain because I’m tired?
It’s great because you can convert a book into a concrete amount of time. If you’re reading a book that’s 300 pages, you know you’ll be finished with it in at least 30 days, if not sooner. I like to break it down. If you multiply the number of days by 10, I can track that I’ve read almost 4,000 pages since I started.
If you want to accomplish something, set a realistic goal so you won’t burn out. I considered reading 25 pages a day, but I settled on 10 pages because I knew I would beat that goal most days. Consistency in the long-term is what matters.”
Join the Humans of Terminus
Want to work with interesting people like Stevie? Terminus is hiring in Atlanta and San Francisco! Check out our current job openings here.