Despite having grown up in a suburb around Worcester, MA, Principal Software Engineer Tom Breese’s favorite baseball team as a child were the Yankees. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, without a doubt, “baseball player.” To be fair, who (aside from the city of Boston) didn’t love Derek Jeter in the 90s?
By fifth grade, Tom’s passion for baseball made way for skateboarding. Tom got his first skateboard around 6 or 7 years old. Arguably not a big reader in his youth, the prize for a Read Across America competition was a skateboard, which Tom would ultimately win.
“My neighbors also had skateboards, we would go down hills and stuff. That’s when I really got into it,” he said. “The reading program is really what made everyone around me want to get one too.”
Tom’s enjoyment of being outdoors has followed him through life, but like many of us 90’s kids, he was also into computer games. Perhaps the inspiration of his later vocation in software engineering began when he received an old PC from his cousins. “That was the first thing that was mine,” he said, “that I could do anything with it I wanted.” This included fixing it up and playing pirated copies of old computer games, his favorite being Age of Empires.
By the time Tom was in high school, if he wasn’t skateboarding, he was on his computer and vice versa. Another hobby entered the ranks around this time as Tom picked up the guitar, which he has continued to this day.
Apart from his hobbies, Tom really didn’t know what life had in store for him or what he wanted to do. “Looking back on it, I probably could have benefited from a year or two off between high school and college to work and see what the real world was like,” he said, “that probably would have better informed what I studied.” When it came time to apply for colleges, during which time his parents told him no skating until the applications were done, he was leaning towards Computer Science or Health Science.
Even though he really didn’t know what all went into it, Computer Sciences it was. When he got to college, he didn’t really know what to expect, preferring to go in with zero expectations.
Tom attended Wentworth Institute of Technology and began to more seriously consider his future during his junior and senior year. His program required internships and work experience, for which Tom was thankful. He ultimately had four different placements, all of which taught him more of what he wanted and what he didn’t want from his future jobs.
His first placement was at a large company with thousands of employees. Of that experience, he said, “a company that size can be really inefficient and it was very apparent.” His second was a smaller company, around 250 people, which felt to Tom to be a completely different environment where inefficiencies didn’t fly. His fourth placement was smaller still, at only 10 people.
“Those experiences really helped inform my future decisions around what kind and size of company I’d like to work for,” he said.
After graduating, Tom ended up at the same company he had his fourth internship at during college. He continued to live in Boston, but by 2019, change was calling him and he had to listen.
When the world and Tom’s office shut down in 2020, he took the opportunity to heed a calling that had been on his mind for a while. Throughout his childhood, Tom’s parents would take the family on vacation to Vermont every October. Tom loves the outdoors, is always active, enjoys skiing, snowboarding, hiking and snowshoeing, “winter hiking is my favorite,” he said. His office closure gave Tom the push he needed to finally take the plunge and move to Vermont.
In the last two years, Tom has picked up more than just outdoor pursuits. “Living in a place with seven months of winter is a long stretch.” One of Tom’s major hobbies now is brewing his own beer.
Besides an appreciation for drinking beer, Tom doesn’t really remember how he got started in homebrewing. However, since he started he’s made at least 40 or so batches of varying sizes. Tom keeps detailed notes and recipes of his brews in Github. Recently, he’s even planted his own hops so he can harvest them and use them in his brews. Last fall/winter he had about nine different beers brewing at once, “like a ridiculous chemistry lab,” he said.
Living in a small town of northern Vermont, Tom has fostered a strong sense of community.
He’s a member of a brewing club, which is “exactly what you’d expect of a beer club in Vermont.”
Although it was slower during covid, they have hosted fun events and tastings. One event, everyone started out with the same beer at the beginning but could personalize it any way they wanted during the fermentation process.
For full transparency, Posh and Tom have had a lengthy courtship. It all began back in May 2021 when Tom actually applied to Posh. At this point, Posh was used to receiving plenty of NLP applicants, but cold inbound for software engineering roles, not so much. Our Head of People, Nick, was absolutely floored by Tom’s application and cover letter which started out with the line, “I might be the first person to say this, but I miss working with IVR.”
We went through the process with Tom and extended him an offer, which he ultimately turned down at the time because he was in the middle of an exciting project that he wanted to see through. Tom was incredibly thoughtful and in turning down the offer, said this, “My current role isn't my ideal and as I've said to, I believe, yourself, Derek, Matt, Karan, and my life-sized Gary Busey cardboard cutout, I'm looking for an environment where I know who I'm working for, have more of a direct impact in our direction, and where I can add the most value.”
Like The Cardigans Lovefool however, Posh stayed in Tom’s head for the next year. Every time he mowed his lawn, a 6 hour ordeal mind you, Posh would pop into Tom’s head. Every few months he would continue to check in with Posh and he never forgot about us, “it was just a matter of time,” he said. Once his project wrapped, he knew it was time.
“I wasn’t thinking so much about the titles I wanted. I just wanted to do what I enjoy and I’m not as interested in being in the rat race. It comes down to doing what I enjoy”
We told Tom, whatever you want to do, you can come here and do it. Posh has been exactly what he expected it to be from the start.
“Having managed a team of 10-12 people and being at a public company, for me now being at Posh and not in that space, I appreciate the quiet of just doing my work and not getting interrupted.”
Tom believes in putting his personality out there and finding a place that accepts you for who you are.