Story

Jon Culver, IS'11, using developer skills to help propel Blue Apron as successful start-up

by Louis DiPietro

Growing up, Jon Culver had become known in his rural south New Jersey hometown as the kid who knew about computers. That passion began in his teens, while building basic web pages, and eventually the tech-savvy Culver began teaching computer basics to local residents at a nursing home.   

These days, the 2011 Cornell graduate, who double-majored in Information Science and Communications, continues his dual role as developer and educator. After four years as a software engineer at an e-commerce company, Culver recently became a Javascript engineer at Blue Apron, the rapidly expanding culinary service that ships more than 3 million ready-to-cook meals to U.S. subscribers each month. He is also the proprietor and mentor behind Culver Labs, a showcase of his side projects, freelance initiatives and a source for technical tutorials.

“As a Javascript engineer I'll be working on Blue Apron's consumer product using cutting edge technologies like Backbone.js and Ember.js,” Culver said of his new position. “The consumer product allows users to manage their delivery schedule but soon will become much more social. For example, it will allow users to publish pictures of the recipes they cooked and share tips with their fellow chefs.”

Culver’s transition from student to job seeker began after attending a Cornell Career Fair as an undergraduate. But, instead of attending to swap resumes with companies, the fashion-minded Culver had other priorities.

“It’s actually kind of a funny story. I wasn’t intent on going, but then I was going to use it as an excuse to dress up,” he said. “I thought I’d put out resumes and just go. I did, and it was a great way to get exposed to companies and see what they were actually looking for. I ended up leaving the career fair and having all these interviews lined up.”

He joined the e-commerce company Next Jump as an intern, and upon graduation, joined their staff full time as a software engineer.

Reflecting on how the Info Sci program prepared him for the workplace, Culver pointed to specific courses like INFO 1300 (“Introductory Design and Programming for the Web”) and 2300 (“Intermediate Design and Programming for the Web”), a class where he served as a teaching assistant. He also cited CS 2110 (“Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures”) as integral to his professional development.

“They gave me a really great foundation,” he said. “When I began interviewing for jobs, I came in knowing HTML, CSS, PHP, which made it incredibly easy. Also, 1300 and 2300 were very project-based. The rule was, if you do everything that’s required, the best you can get is a B. If you go above and beyond, you earn the A. I find that very applicable to day-to-day worklife.”

As for skills he developed in the workplace, Culver said he’s honed the ability to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities.

“In my position, we’re expected to own product plans and be aware of revenue goals and keep track of metrics,” he said. “It’s being an engineer and a product manager, too, and being able to own that whole process.”

Follow Culver’s work at culverlabs.co and at blueapron.com