It's Engineer Week... which also happens to coincide with Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day! And what better way to show our support than by profiling one of the newest additions to the Scaleway team, Eliza.
But first, a little history lesson. While today engineering is largely considered a male dominated field, people often forget that the first programmers were actually women. Which isn't so surprising when you consider that programming was once considered to be nothing 'but' a clerical job. However, as the field gained in importance, women were edged out of their roles. When computers entered the home, they were also largely marketed as boys toys, which left generations of impressionable young girls with the idea that they couldn't or shouldn't be interested in the machines. Which explains at least in part, why initiatives like Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED) are important. Because programming should never have been a 'girls only' or become a 'boys only' club, and we couldn't think of a better way to support the IGED than by talking to one of our own.
What made you decide to pursue a career as a developer?
I actually come from a background in digital video. I studied communications and journalism as an undergrad and I did my masters in new media, the web and the arts. So I've always been curious about the internet and the possibilities it represents. Especially from a creative standpoint. So after spending years creating digital content for the web, web development seemed like the logical next step for me. Programming for the web has allowed me to get my hands dirty with the technologies that underpin the digital ecosystem. It's also given me the opportunity to design and create my own tools, and tell stories in ways I could never have accessed through the medium of video alone.
Can you tell us more about your role as a front-end developer at Scaleway?
So, Scaleway's 2018 mission is to enhance it's cloud services. The aim is to provide developers with the best possible experience managing infrastructure at scale, which we're going to do by shipping tons of new cloud products and services. As a front end, there's a lot to do. It's an exciting moment to be a part of, for sure. Especially since I get to work on brand new projects, really starting from scratch. So often as a developer, you'll find yourself working on older projects, which means jumping into an old codebase, with so many things already defined. So I'm learning a lot right now, getting to build something really from the ground up.
What is your favorite part of your job?
You'll hear a lot of web developers lament the quick pace, and fast rate of change in the front-end landscape, and while it's true, it's also kind of the reason I love coding for the web. Things never stop moving. There's always some new tech to try out… I have yet to be bored. And sure it can be overwhelming at times, but if you can stomach it, it'll reinforce a lot of really useful skills, like how to learn on the go, or conversely how to block out the noise when needed.
What has been the biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me has been grappling with the idea that there isn't one singular right way to do anything. It can be a little surprising when you're just starting out because you spend a lot of time trying to understand how you're suppose to go about solving a problem. Like, “What's the right way to do this?” But everyone thinks differently, and therefore codes differently. And it's precisely the discussions that happen around why someone coded a solution one way versus another that the most interesting exchanges and insights occur.
Do you feel like you've had to work harder than your male colleagues to get to where you are today?
I've been really lucky so far in my career in tech in that I've worked on great teams with really amazing people. I have heard many a horror story to the contrary. But it hasn't been my experience as a female developer. I'm coming from an entirely different industry, so any struggling I did was more in the sense that I had to put in the time and really learn a new trade. But since I'd always fiddled with the web for fun anyways, it was hard work, but it was fun work.
Do you have any advice for other young people looking to follow a career in engineering?
I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that before deciding to learn to code, decide what you want to build with code. Programming is the deepest rabbit hole you'll ever dive into, so it's good to have an idea of what you want to accomplish.
Scaleway is currently on the lookout for more passionate people to add to its diverse team of technologists. If working in a cutting-edge hacker house sounds like something you could be interested in, we'd love to hear from you.