NJIT Junior Hired to Develop Apps for the New York Times

Matt Bischoff was hired to make apps for the New York Times. And he's just a junior at NJIT.

NJIT students are so in tune with new technologies that major companies sometimes hire them before they graduate.

That’s just what happened to Matt Bischoff, an NJIT junior who received an offer he couldn’t refuse: The New York Times hired him to work as mobile software engineer. He helps develops the iPhone and iPad software applications for the online The New York Times.

Matt, a Human-Computer Interaction major, started at the Times in August.  He’ll finish his NJIT degree by taking evening classes and online courses. 

It’s unsurprising that the Times hired him. For Matt’s a top student at NJIT who also co-founded an app development company called Lickability. He founded the firm with NJIT senior Andrew Harrison, an Information Technology major. In the spring the two released an iPhone app, Quotebook, which was Apple’s 5th best-selling app in the Reference Category.  Apple officials were so impressed with Quotebook that they invited Matt and Andrew to present the app during its recent AcademiX conference.  Matt was the first teenager to start a podcast, he says, and he later co-founded PodcastPeople.com, a site that allows people to create audio and video podcasts and customize websites.

Matt will be a featured speaker during the TEDx NJIT, a student organized conference whose theme is invention and entrepreneurship. The conference, set for Nov. 11, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Jim Wise Theater, will have a live simulcast broadcast.  During his Ted Talk, Matt will discuss how he developed Quotebook as well as his overall passion for making software. He also discusses both in this interview.

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How did you get the job at the Times?

I have a friend on Twitter who is a developer at the Times who posted about the open position.  I applied for the job online and the next day a human resources person called me and said they’d like to interview me. I was in the Bahamas at the time, but when I returned I went for the interview. As it turned out, five New York Times employees interviewed me. I guess I did well because the following Monday they called me and offered me the job.

And you’ll continue at NJIT and get your degree?

I plan to finish my degree primarily online but also take some evening classes.  I'm glad that NJIT allows me to be so flexible with the number of online classes I can take.

You and fellow NJIT student Andrew Harrison, along with University of Miami student Brian Capps, run the app development company Lickability.  How is that going?

Quotebook continues to do well all over the world, from the U.S. to India and more recently in Saudi Arabia. And Lickability is far from finished. The company is gearing up for a major release of Quotebook and has started on several new projects including pitching contract work.

What personal projects are you working on now?

I continue to work on Quotebook. We're working on an iPad version of the app which should be out by the end of the year.

Is there a demand now for developers who are adept at Apple’s iOS software?

Yes, iOS talent is extremely in demand right now. While visiting San Francisco for work recently I met a 17-year old iPhone developer, Nick Paulson, who is working for Square (http://squareup.com), one of the fastest growing iOS companies in the world.

Is The New York Times a cool place to work?

It's incredible. The building in Midtown Manhattan is brand new and one of coolest buildings in the city. Inside, we have whiteboards and iPads everywhere and some of the smartest people in the business.

What’s fun for you about making apps?

The fun part is solving problems and making really delightful experiences for people. The fun part is becoming invisible. The fun part is making things "just work.”

It is part of the storied history of American technology: a student skilled at a new technology gets hired early and becomes a successful entrepreneur, like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  Does this profile fit you?

That is a bit much for me. I'm just a guy who likes to make cool things for other people, and I'm really happy to be doing that now for millions of people who read the The New York Times.

(By Robert Florida)