1. What were you doing before you became a Software Engineer?
Immediately before I became a Software Engineer, I was literally making ice cream for a living – I was the Production Manager at Bluebird Microcreamery, where I made ice cream, managed the retail and wholesale distribution of said ice cream, and also managed their Capitol Hill location. Previous to that, I’ve been a freelance writer and editor, a project manager at a telecom company, a research assistant, a tutor, a barista at many cafes, and many, *many* other odd jobs.
2. Where are you currently working and what do you do?
I am currently an SDE-2 at Chef, a company that makes IT Automation Software. Chef was my Ada internship company, and they were such a supportive, welcoming community that I’ve never left. Chef currently dynamically creates feature teams that typically last 6-10 weeks, so what I do changes pretty frequently, though I’ve most frequently worked on Chef Automate, our product that provides workflow for continuous delivery.
3. What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love that I get to spend so much time thinking about problems and collaborating with really smart, really knowledgable folks. I also really like that our work tends to be very customer-focused and -driven; “What pain are we trying to fix?” is a question we ask ourselves regularly.
Also, like, coding is pretty fun. I’m happiest when I get to write Erlang.
(Here’s a picture of Rachel and I having a very important cat-related meeting at work.)
4. Describe a typical day in your role.
I typically try to get in around 8, earlier than some other Seattle engineers, but since we are a distributed company, I have co-workers already working as far away as Berlin. I usually spend an hour or so getting caught up on code reviews and things unfinished from the day before. I have a daily video standup with my team where we chat about work that’s been happening and what needs to be done next. After that, we divide into pairs and tackle stories together – though we frequently meet up to discuss big decisions or give context on work.
Right now, I’m the Engineering Rep on my team, so I also sometimes chat with the Product Manager and UX designer to discuss specific stories for our feature. I’m also constantly keeping my eye on various Slack rooms; I try to be available for troubleshooting and help when folks are having problems, or if a larger issue emerges that needs immediate attention.
5. Any advice you have for others looking to enter the tech industry as a programmer.
This stuff is hard, and you’ll fail a lot. That’s just how it is. Try not to feel badly about it; everyone struggles sometimes, and everyone asks questions.
Find allies. Having folks you know you can count on will help you feel comfortable advocating for yourself when that’s possible, and give you someone you can go to when it’s not.
If you have to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the person you were a month ago. Think about how much you’ve learned, and how much more you know than your past self. Past Davida’s a good kid, but I know so much more now!
(This is me and Rachel and our coworkers Victoria and Shauna at ChefConf this year. I don’t know why I look so skeptical.)