REAL PROS: Zachary King, Software Developer

By Katelyn Allen on Friday, September 25, 2020

Zachary King

Job: Team Leader, Software Engineer, Data Products
Employer: First Orion, Corp.
Alma mater: University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science

Why did you decide to go into a STEM field?
“I always enjoyed video games and mathematics, which gave me a curiosity for computers. In the ninth grade, I began using my single period of EAST class each day to find guides and videos on topics such as making very basic computer games with Flash and ActionScript — that was my first experience with code, and [I was] hooked.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to draw a box on a screen, write some lines of code, and suddenly be able to move that box around your screen with keyboard and mouse — even more so when you get to share it with your friends. From there, I knew I wanted to pursue computer programming.”

Describe your role and responsibilities.
“I began my current job at First Orion as a DevOps intern on the data solutions team. It was the summer before my senior year of college, and the first real technical job I’d had. At that point, I primarily worked on building internal tools and automation scripts. From there, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in computer science from UA Little Rock and transitioned to full-time software engineer. Since then, I was promoted to team leader of engineering for our data products unit, and currently have two brilliant full-time colleagues and one intern working under my direction. Our role is to help design, oversee and build big data pipelines and the products powered by them.”

What’s a typical day-in-the-life like?
“I typically like to arrive at the office around 8 a.m., grab some coffee, check the day’s agenda, and send some emails before any meetings start. It may come as a surprise, but being a software engineer entails much more than just writing code. I spend a fair amount of time in meetings. There’s also an emphasis on writing tests for the code, improving code style and optimizations. It’s not all work and no play, though. We have ‘Beer:30’ every Thursday afternoon, where the whole company gets together for snacks, drinks, board games, ping pong and socialization!”


Why It's Hot
The number of software developer jobs are projected to grow 21% by 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, and app developer jobs are projected to grow by 26%.

The Degree You'll Need
A bachelor’s degree in software development or computer science

The Paycheck
The median annual salary for software developers is $103,620.

"I always enjoyed video games and mathematics, which gave me a curiosity for computers.” –Zachary

Sources:, Arkansas Workforce Centers