A mobile app developer with an MBA, a Developer Advocate with a popular podcast, a travel enthusiast who once wrote code for rides at Walt Disney World, Brandon Minnick might just be the most interesting man in the world. But while any of these topics alone might make for worthwhile conversation, what makes Brandon unique is how these diverse interests have blended together in his life and career to feed, inform, and influence each other.
“You have to always be willing to learn new things, try new things. Always be open to new experiences,” he says of the mindset on which he has built a career. “Because this industry we’re in, it demands it.”
Outgoing and amiable, Brandon began his career at the end of the ‘00s working for Walt Disney World’s Ride + Show Engineering where he wrote code and wired electrical controls for rides such as Dumbo, It’s a Small World, and Space Mountain. After that came a stop at Harris Communications, where he took on such challenges as leading the deployment of satellite communications equipment to Royal Caribbean Cruise vessels worldwide. After relocating from Florida to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2015, he spent a year developing apps for iOS, Android, and UWP for a startup, Xamarin, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2016.
Always learning and growing
Now celebrating his fifth anniversary with Microsoft, Brandon served as a Cloud and Mobile Solutions Architect with the Xamarin Global Black Belt Team, then moved to his current role as a Senior Developer Advocate specializing in .NET, Xamarin, and Azure. He loves his work, and he isn’t shy about where his career is headed.
“Eventually, I want to work for me,” he says with a smile. “Someday, I want to go into consulting full time.”
This is why, when he was at Harris, Brandon earned his MBA on the weekends. “I’m so glad I did it,” he explains. “I earned my degree via the ‘Professional MBA Program’ at the University of Florida. It was great because I was able to continue my career; I didn’t have to pause anything, and the classes were filled with other highly-motivated professionals, from whom I also learned great things.”
Always of the mindset to help others, Brandon is quick to add a pro tip: “A lot of companies will provide reimbursement for continuing education, so try to get your employer to pay for it!”
Brandon is quick to exchange such tips on his podcast 8 Bits, where he and co-host Chloe Condon interview tech luminaries. He believes the best careers in tech are built through a mixture of flexibility, open-mindedness, and planning.
“When Microsoft acquired Xamarin, it was an abrupt change for me,” he recalls of one growth moment in his career that he sees as a crucial pivot point. “I had never before worked with Azure, and I got a fast introduction to the world of cloud computing.”
Over the years, Brandon has seen a lot of people in tech who were hesitant to change. He believes that when you choose this field, you agree to an always-learning mindset, one that recognizes — and appreciates — that everything you know could become outdated tomorrow, but the next game-changing trend is there to be embraced.
“Microsoft gave us tons and tons of training on Azure,” he says now, thankful he was open to the career shift. “Now, I don’t even know if you could say cloud computing is the future anymore; it’s the present.”
Work and wanderlust
“There’s a lot of things to see and do in this world, and I want to do as much of it as I can while I’m still here,” he explains. “Being a developer gives us the freedom to do that because writing code can be done anywhere in the world. You can’t reproduce the experiences you get from travel. You have to be there, live in it, really experience it.”
With that in mind, Brandon offers the top 3 ways travel-craving developers can use their passion (when it is safe to travel again, of course) to inspire career growth:
Journey often — “Traveling is a fantastic way to learn. As a developer advocate, I travel to conferences and meet-ups, spending time with the developer community, sharing my stories and listening to theirs. You can’t get that experience without traveling. There were many attempts to replicate it during COVID in 2020, but when the conferences moved online you missed those interactions; bumping into people, sitting down to lunch with 8 people you’ve never met and making new friends.”
Learn from experience — “When I travel, I love meeting the locals and listening to their stories. I truly believe that if we all traveled more, the world would be a more empathetic place. When it comes to software development, it’s important to understand different cultures for the same reason. At Microsoft, we’re a global company; every day, I work with people from different countries, different continents. It’s easy to meet someone new and make assumptions but try instead to always keep an open mind. You’ll see that although our traditions, languages and accents may vary, we’re not that different. It builds the muscle of empathy.”
Adapt and ask questions — “When you travel, you have to be open to new experiences, and you also have to be open to things not going as planned. That happens all the time as a developer; you put a plan together, everything looks great on paper, but when you start to execute you will run into roadblocks and must adjust. Anyone who has traveled knows flights are going to be delayed and canceled; hotel reservations will get lost; maybe you’ll lose your passport. You have to roll with it. I personally follow the Bird-in-the-Hand philosophy: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, meaning that a known guaranteed outcome is often your best option.”
Although he has traveled all around the world, Brandon will be the first to admit that this phase of his career could only unfold on the Bay Area stage. With Microsoft’s backing, engaging in daily conversations with the developer community, and having written multiple iOS + Android apps like Punday and GitTrends, he’s eager to share his learnings with others — and always happy when his travels return him home to the Bay Area.
“Microsoft Life to me is the balance that comes with being a Microsoft employee,” he says. “It’s our job to come to Microsoft, but it’s not our whole life.”
If you are interested in learning what Microsoft Life in the Bay Area would mean for you, job openings can be found here: https://aka.ms/MicrosoftBayAreaCareers.