What is your current professional role and how did you get here?
I’m currently an iOS Developer at Starbucks. At the beginning of my career I started out as a program manager, but I found that I’d rather implement the products than manage them. I started doing freelance iOS and web development, joined a few startups/consulting firms and eventually gained enough experience to start working on iOS apps full time.
What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?
Right before the first version of the iOS SDK came out, a few of my friends and I started a company to write the first apps for the iPhone. We had a lot of crazy ideas but we eventually landed on “Let’s Pizza,” an app that helped you find the nearest pizza places and order from them. You couldn’t order directly but the app hooked into the telephone and map functionality so you could call or get directions to the pizza place.
What went well? What could have gone better?
We learned a lot about app development by writing Let’s Pizza! This was before the iOS SDK was public so it was impossible to share information about how to get a simple table view working. We used the Yelp API to get restaurants and review info after getting the user’s location. By the end of the summer we had a functioning app but it wasn’t super pretty or polished.
We made the decision not to release the app in the app store, since it might make us/our company look bad. In hindsight that was totally the wrong move! Getting the app into customer’s hands would have gotten us more feedback, and who knows how many copies we could’ve sold!
At App Camp, we emphasize that it’s important to have interests outside of tech and to take breaks from looking at screens. What are some of your interests outside of tech? What do you do when you need to take a break from work?
When I’m not looking at a screen I’m probably playing with my adorable dog, Sodapop! We like to take him on hikes, to dog parks, and on other various adventures. I’m also his social media manager but I suppose that’s a screen-related hobby!
Aside from training our dog I like to practice making latte art and trying many different types of coffee (I am a certified Starbucks Coffee Master)!
Why do you support the goals of App Camp?
I think one of the most important ingredients required to build good software is empathy. If you want to make something that’s useful or enjoyable for most people, you have to be able to understand most people. And if a team that is building software is comprised of only a certain type of person, that means that it might only work for people like them.
I support the goals of App Camp for Girls because I think it’ll lead to better diversity and therefore better software, in addition to increasing opportunities for girls who are interested in technology.
What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?
I absolutely think that nurturing the curiosity of those in underrepresented groups as App Camp does is a great start! One thing I’ve seen companies use as a way to reject otherwise qualified candidates is the “culture fit” metric. It’s totally subjective and can be a proxy for ageism, racism, sexism, nationalism, you name it. I would suggest thinking long and hard about whether what you consider a “culture fit” is really just a similarity ranking. If so, maybe flip it around and ask how a person’s unique differences might make your team stronger rather than reinforcing an already existing bias or behavior.
How can technology be a force for good?
I’ve always loved the quote about how a computer is like a bicycle for your brain. Of course, we hardly talk about computers themselves and more about what services and devices can do for us. I think technology can be a force for good in that it helps connect us to a broader world than what we had access to before. That in itself isn’t good or bad (more accurately it’s both) but I do think that there is more potential to improve quality of life through connectedness.
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