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9.8.16 Q&A with 3 Buffalo, NY Programmers Before National Programmers Day

Lighthouse Technology Services has been connecting star programmers with IT jobs since 2004. We were fortunate to talk to three such programming professionals about their background, how they came into their profession, and why Buffalo is a great place to be a programmer. This year, 2016, National Programmers’ Day falls on September 12th.


Tom Ruggiero

17 years of Programming Experience in Buffalo, NY

Lighthouse: What are the benefits of being a programmer in Buffalo?

Tom: “The good pay, and flexible hours are great. Being a programmer is challenging, everything is a moving target, and I am always learning.”

Lighthouse: How has programming changed since you started?

Tom: “The different tech is more challenging now. Programming through many facets – desktop to handhelds, bluetooth, tv, and even refrigerators. The past used to be more technical, thought of as more geeky. Now kids are being taught at a young age about programming.”

Lighthouse: What does the future hold for the next generation of programmers?

Tom: “I am an old school programmer, but upcoming people have to learn more modern language and smartphones. Universities need to include curriculum that includes teaching mainframe programming such as COBOL, JCL, and SAS. Mainframes are still the backbone of many large industries and will be around for years to come, and mainframers are an aging population.”


Mary Beltrami

Programming for the Last 40 Years – Has Held Several Programming and Analyst Positions in Buffalo, NY

Lighthouse: What are the benefits of being a programmer in Buffalo?

Mary: “Consulting in Buffalo exposes you and you get to meet a number of different people. Moving around is fun for me. Programming is fun. Programming is satisfying. Programming gives you a feeling of accomplishment.”

Lighthouse: Why is programming so important today?

Mary: “I think programmers think logically, provide structure to any organization no matter the size, and bring things to light you should be focusing on.”

Lighthouse: How has programming changed since you started?

Mary: “When I first started we used punch cards, you needed to be much more careful in the beginning with your resources. Everyone has one or two pieces of equipment now. Back then it was more paper, and now the turnaround time has decreased incredibly, which is a great thing.”

Lighthouse: What does the future hold for the next generation of programmers?

Mary: “Technology is changing so rapidly. It’s hard for people to be experts in some areas because as soon as you’re an expert, that area changes. COBOL is still left for me; integration is the biggest issue, where things that could be plug and play are not. There is always something that is hidden and doesn’t work properly, but we should be doing more extensive research – just because something works doesn’t mean it works in all environments.”

Mary added, “While in the past we had fewer options to get to our destination, these days they seem to be endless. My advice would be: you better have the most up to date roadmap, including construction areas, to get where you need to go!”


Aaron Zehler

Graduated in 2004, Introduced into Programming while he Studied Computer Science and Engineering

Lighthouse: What are the benefits of being a programmer in Buffalo?

Aaron: “I have experienced and seen a lot of job opportunities – majority are not just entry level, but higher-end positions in Buffalo, leading programmers onshore or offshore. These jobs are more of the decision making jobs instead of just programming all the time.”

Lighthouse: What kind of issues has programming presented since you started?

Aaron: “The biggest issue is translation and to be able to gather requirements properly and produce what you want. Without a high-skilled and highly-experienced programmer, you go through multiple issues. In Buffalo these high end programmers get it right the first time. I have seen it first-hand several times.”

Lighthouse: How has programming changed since you started?

Aaron: “The biggest changes have been the requests, even in interviews, listening to company’s projects. Companies are now trying to expand globally, create it once and then it goes everywhere. I have seen this happen for the last 15 years, a programmer can’t just focus on their local problem, they have to look at the bigger picture. How does this satisfy both a company’s local and global needs.”

Lighthouse: What does the future hold for the next generation of programmers?

Aaron: “New cloud based tech, more mobile technology, and handheld technology, and other trends that go hand in hand. The ability to allow the client to do more with less true development, allowing development to focus more on the bigger picture.”


Technology is at the heart of many Buffalonian’s daily lives. Whether using our home computers, communicating with our children on a cell phone, or engaging technology to run our businesses – behind each one of these tasks is a programmer making it possible. On September 12th We Say Thank You, and Celebrate National Programmers’ Day.


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