Tech

By Rebecca Sheldon, September 10, 2014

Computer Camp to CrowdFlower: Making the Transition to Engineering

I remember nearly not going to the Meetup; it was a cold January evening in a city I didn’t know, on a street with meters that wouldn’t take money, next to two less-than-legal-looking sidewalk transactions. All signs pointed to “I’d Turn Back If I Were You.”

But I didn’t. I had spent my savings and half a year preparing for a career change from Social Media Marketing to Programming. I went to computer camp (an immersive coding bootcamp, MakerSquare), I bought the uniform black hoodie and a clunky pair of vans. I was committed, and the corner of Mission and 17th wasn’t going to dissuade me. 

I’m glad it didn’t. That meetup is how I landed my first developer role – and it rocks.

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Hoodies and sneakers aren’t required (but they are comfortable).These are my colleagues at a team offsite.  

I’ve now been a member of CrowdFlower’s Enterprise Engineering team for six months. We manage applications that provide supplemental data processing to our platform, as well as customized, complex job workflows for our Enterprise clients.

I’ve since ditched the hoodie and vans (who knew having “the look” wouldn’t help your tests pass?). I’ve learned the real meaning of legacy code and tech debt; I’ve learned that Rails isn’t “magic,” and I now understand that killing unicorns is bound to happen.

Engineering is more than writing the methods and classes that make up an application. Agile development is more than a stand-up and a retrospective. Interapp dependencies are always annoying, and everyone has a git branch or commit with profanity at some point.

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SF Rails Meetup at CrowdFlower, June 2014

The community and communication between developers is more collaborative than any marketing campaign I have been part of – which is interesting given the introverted stigma associated with programmers. I love that CrowdFlower didn’t mind my sparkly contributions to our open source gem. I love that I’m encouraged to take part in community initiatives that interest me, like hosting meetups for the SF Rails Group and Women Who Code


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Women Who Code: Ruby Tuesday Meetup at CrowdFlower, April 2014 

Like most tech companies, there are more men than women in our office, so I started a “Ladies Lunch” to help the women get to know each other better. It’s now a quarterly company-sponsored get together, full of women with diverse, impressive academic, business and technical backgrounds. 

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CrowdFlower Ladies Lunch, June 2014

Mostly, I think the one thing that matters in going down this path, is being resilient. Just like that night in January, determination goes a long way in being a successful engineer. And if you’re lucky, a really cool company to help you get there.

Keep an eye out for our quarterly Women Who Code’s Ruby Tuesday meetups! Join us here.