(Bri winning the “flossy” award at work! “The floss is a award my team hands out once a week to a person who looks particularly ‘flossy’ (the definition of ‘flossy’ is based on the whims of the person who currently holds the floss.)”)
1. What were you doing before you were a software engineer?
This is my third career! I moved to Seattle to get my M.S. in Atmospheric Science. I worked for the National Weather Service (offices in both Phoenix, AZ, my hometown, and up here in Seattle.) I worked for Cliff Mass studying numerical weather prediction and extratropical cyclones that cause high wind events in the Puget Sound.
After that, I went to pastry school at Seattle Culinary Academy. I worked as a baker and pastry maker in several bakeries around Seattle for a few years (including a few years as a recipe developer for a vegan and gluten free bakery). Somehow I managed to write a python cgi web form to help a cupcake shop I worked for streamline one bit of their inventory pipeline.
Right before Ada I was working for the Climate Impacts Group at UW helping organize some datasets and analyze trends in wind and potential for lightning in climate models in the Puget Sound region. I got to learn a little more python there and work with some great people!
2. Where are you currently working and what do you do?
I work for EnergySavvy as a software engineer. I help build and customize our products for specific use cases for our clients (a lot of them are utility companies). I get to work pretty closely to the clients, which is something I enjoy a lot. One of the things I really loved about being a baker was that I got to make nice things for people that made their lives nicer, so it’s pretty neat that I still get to do that, but with code.
I’d call myself a full-stack engineer. I like adventures and learning new things, so I’m not stuck to any one bit of the code base as my favorite. We use a lot of technologies – ansible, django, and react, to name just a few.
3. What’s your favorite part of your job?
I really like the fact that I feel like I’m a part of saving the world. Our products help utility companies engage with their customers, manage their projects to help them save energy (from switching out CFL light bulbs to LED bulbs, to installing new and more efficient heating systems to keep people warm in the winter), and quantify the impact these programs have on energy usage. I see the things I make being used for these purposes and I like that!
I also have a great team and I feel like I can be myself most of the time (I get to work with 4 other Adies: Hi Elizabeth, Galina, Sally, and Sarah!!). When I started working full time after my internship, my coworkers celebrated “Bri Day” by wearing sparkly headbands and scarves and decorating my desk with donuts and a magic wand. <3
4. Describe a typical day in your role.
My day is normally from about 9am until 5pm. I usually just dive into the current project I am working on, check to see if I can provide insight or feedback on any code reviews or design documents, and make sure I’m on track to finish stuff on time. I spend a few hours a week on skill development learning algorithms and data structures from online classes, and I spend another few hours TAing at Ada and planning events that help improve work culture. For example, recently Cynthia Tee provided training at EnergySavvy by running one of Valerie Aurora’s Ally Skills Workshops for our org. (https://frameshiftconsulting.com/ally-skills-workshop/)
5. Any advice you have for others looking to enter the tech industry as a programmer.
As far as advice, I have this list of things I think about related to things I struggle with:
Be yourself as much as you can.
Whenever you have the bandwidth, stand up for other people who don’t or can’t.
If things are really bad, it’s ok to take care of yourself for a bit.
It’s hard to be a good listener when you are struggling, too, but try your best, esp. when you can see others having a rough time too.
I’m super privileged, I had a lot of exposure and adjacency to the tech world before I came to Ada. Sometimes it is easy to forget that when I’m having a bad day. But if I’m having a bad day, imagine what bad days are like for people with less privilege around me.