Overstock.com president Johnathan Johnson is in need of some Java for his Provo development office, sans the caffeine.

Approximately 50 jobs are currently open in Provo for experts in the Java programming language. So far they have filled eight positions. Java is a sophisticated computer language that Johnson said will help with new online applications in development. "We are working on new finer applications to help make our business better. Our projects are pretty cutting edge," he said.

Overstock.com opened its fifth Utah office in Provo on Feb. 24, and is considered an employee-centric company. It was recently named in Forbes Magazine employee survey the No. 1 retailer to work for. Overstock.com was also ranked ninth out of the top 100 best places to work.

Johnson said they are looking for employees that are hard workers with good character. The company follows three simple affirmations: be, know and do.

"We need our employees to be people of good character, have knowledge to build the business, and do, meaning be hard workers," Johnson said. "We really have an agile culture. We have big projects that we split into bite size. Little pieces get done quickly and handed in. That way the developers get immediate feedback if changes are needed to be made."

Johnson says he wanted to keep business close in Utah because of the work force and the connection to both BYU and UVU. "We really like hiring in Utah," he said. "We try to make it a fun place and very family-oriented."

Mike Jones, associate professor in computer science at BYU said there are 500 undergraduate computer science students at BYU.

"In their first two years, they learn the Java program, and we expect them to know it," Jones said. "We also teach them how to think and develop new ideas."

Jones said it's a good job market for computer science students. "Demand is pretty high right now. Employers may have a tough time."

Brian Durney, associate professor of computer science at UVU said not all his students learn Java. In their junior year, students have a choice of a number of programs, including Java. Currently, there are 25 students in the Java class.

"Our philosophy is to teach students what they need to know and apply things they learned to the Java program," Durney said.

Employees will be working on what Johnson is calling the "secret sauce," aimed at having a savings engine and helping customers shop Overstock.com and more.

Provo is not only a comfortable fit for his company, but also for Johnson. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1990, and is hoping Utah County will be able to provide Java-fluent graduates to reach their goal of 150 employees.

"Our goal is to step on the gas to get 50 employees now, and add to 100, then 150 over the next year," Johnson said.

Johnson will be the featured speaker at the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce First Friday Forum on May 6 at 8 a.m. at the Provo Marriott, 100 N. 100 East.

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