What is your current professional role and how did you get here?
I’m a Lead Software Engineer at Capital One. I’ve worked on both the flagship Capital One app and backend services that support it. My last big project was combining the experiences of the iPhone and the iPad app, and now I’m working on adding new capabilities to the app from a backend perspective, as well as internal tools. I was referred to Capital One from I have a friend who used to work here, and I’d known my first boss from Capital One sponsoring events that I had run for a few years.
What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?
The first app I actually helped release to the store was a social network for skateboarders. I’m not into skateboarding, and that was the app a contracting shop was working on when I joined. I learned so much from that job including proper version control, how to handle bug tracking, and how to get a hot fix out. For iOS 4 it was pretty slick. I remember having to reverse-engineer a control that another app had added. It was lots of fun and also gave me the street cred I needed to get my next job.
What went well? What could have gone better?
I was fresh out of school, had never worked in an office before and my manager was super helpful and supportive. I learned a ton about how real software development works at that job. I also shipped the worst bug I’ve ever shipped to date, which deleted most users contacts when they did a certain action. This was before you had to ask for access to contacts, so in some ways it was really the wild west and things could go poorly quickly. This also was the first time I valued QA. Before this job, I was always working solo on projects. Working with others made me realize just how complicated both software and software development can be.
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?
There’s rarely a time when I don’t have a trip scheduled. I travel as much as I can. I’ve been on 3 international trips so far this year, and I have another planned for Thanksgiving. When I’m not traveling, I’m usually reading or playing video games. I’m a sci-fi/fantasty fan, so the more swords and sorcery the better. I’ve been playing a lot of Splatoon 2 recently.
Why do you support the goals of App Camp?
I’ve always seen programming as fun, since the reason I got into programming was Neopets. I want other girls to have a fun, friendly introduction to programming, and AppCamp does that. I remember the first time I had an app running on a device, and it felt like magic. I got into mobile because it’s so tactile, and I want other girls to have that feeling too.
What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?
Step one is always learning, and Inclusion is just as important as Diversity. This also means self-reflection, which may make you feel uncomfortable. Rarely do people start down this path and immediately see just how awesome they are doing. It’s a long journey. As for resources, I have a bunch of recommendations. My friend Cate Huston recently wrote a blog post about Improving Diversity in Hiring (hint: it starts with inclusion. Lara Hogan has a great blog post about tracking your internal diversity data in terms of hiring, pay, and promotion. There’s also a bunch of great articles on Model View Culture for Hiring, and “The Pipeline” among many other resources.
How can technology be a force for good?
Software is taking over the world. A toaster running linux used to be a joke among programmers, but now that’s a reality. Technology can be a force for good as long as its built ethically. Technology should work, and be delightful, for everyone. This is harder than building just for one slice of humanity, and putting in the extra effort helps raise others up. It feels like there’s some big ethical dilemma almost weekly in technology right now, which I take as a sign that the correct buttons are being pushed. As an industry we have the power to do great things, but like Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
You can find Michele on Twitter.
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