Thank you: from a rookie software engineer and working mom

Jan 13, 2022 - by Emma Weber

Thank you: from a rookie software engineer and working mom

As I reflect on my past two years at Sovrn I am full of gratitude. I took a risk at the end of 2019. After having my first baby and looking to return to work I knew that the job I had with an incredible, unicorn tech startup was something I was good at, but not the career I wanted. So I did what thousands of other career change hopefuls have done: I signed up for a Full Stack coding bootcamp. 3 months, full-time, sink or swim kind of thing.

By the end of the bootcamp I was certified as a Full Stack Developer with skillset in the MERN stack. The university attempted to prep us in the last month for the job search but I still struggled to get responses from companies for a chance to prove myself. Thankfully my very small network (my mom’s neighbor across the street) heard about my new certification and offered to send my resume to his network of HR professionals.

So here comes my first huge thank you, to Josh who saw a bright, eager developer and believed in me enough to give me a foot in the door. His email resulted in four emails from recruiters at tech companies in the Boulder area. To make a long story short, one role had a later start date than I needed, another resulted in my first failed technical interview (believe it or not I don’t have a bubble sort memorized), the third was too far of a drive, and the last was how I ended up at Sovrn.

It was an Operations Engineer role that supported the internal Product Operations team. I would use my javascript knowledge for a task specific to the role, but for the most part it was problem solving how to automate processes and less on the coding side. But here is the second thank you, to Chris, a Principal Engineer at Sovrn who wanted to give bootcamp grads an opportunity to grow while in support engineer roles and created a program called Farm-to-Majors (yes, if you are a baseball fan you get it). I, not being a baseball fan, referred to it as Farm-to-Table in my interview and was kindly corrected and given an explanation that like in baseball where players start in the “Farm” minor league to improve their abilities are then promoted to the “Majors” major league, support engineers could participate in this program and then would be given a chance to apply to internal Software Engineer I roles.

I along with two of my fellow support engineers then spent several months working on our Farm-to-Majors project where we improved and transferred an internal tool to a new UI. We learned a new language (Typescript), were introduced to a handful of tools (e.g. Jenkins, Docker, and AWS), taught how to write unit and integration tests, and even had a Scrum Master who helped us write stories, groom a backlog and work through a sprint. My third thank you is for the Software Engineers at Sovrn who mentored us through this project, especially Roxanne, Mark, and George. Thank you for your patience, expertise, and willingness to work with us.

At the beginning of 2021 the first Software Engineer I role opened up and the Farm-to-Majors participants applied, were interviewed, and in the end my teammate AJ was selected. I was devastated, but could not have been more proud of AJ as it was so deserved — he really is brilliant. But here comes the most profound thank you of my career, to Corina, at the time Engineering Manager, now Director of Engineering at Sovrn who championed me, encouraged me, and ultimately provided me the opportunity to become a Software Engineer.

When I was not selected for the first Software Engineer I role Corina gave me clear and honest feedback as to why and offered ways I could improve while also highlighting my strengths and her hopes for my career. As the months went along she kept me in the loop about when another Software Engineer I role would open up, checked in on me as I was approaching my third trimester with baby #2, eased my fears of losing out on an opportunity due to maternity leave, and after I interviewed again for the new open role, hired me a month before my due date letting me know that she was excited for me to join the team but that I should take all the time I needed to be with my newborn and, on my return, ramp back up into the role.

I will never forget her response when I first reached out to let her know about my pregnancy and my worries that it would be an obstacle to move forward in my career: “ I don’t think that’s any issue at all. In fact I think it would be poetic that your first baby has you retraining to become an engineer and the 2nd making the transition. Also Congratulations!!!!”

As a working mom I do feel it is poetic that I have two little boys that I love and an amazing husband who stays at home to care for them as I pursue a career I could have never imagined for myself even five years ago. It is hard, and tiring, and so rewarding. And here I am, two years into my career at Sovrn, almost six months into my new role as Software Engineer I, feeling so thankful for the people who gave me a chance. I did not know it was possible to love your job as much as I do while also having a work-life balance that helps ease the working-mom guilt.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my letter of gratitude. I hope it encourages other career change hopefuls, coding bootcamp grads, and working moms.

One final thank you to all who I did not mention by name that helped me get to where I am today — family that provided support and childcare during bootcamp and the pandemic, friends that helped prep me for interviews and celebrated along with me, coworkers who challenge me and teach me every day. I quite literally would not be where I am today without y’all.