Anna Brown

@anna.e.brown

The first post-bootcamp year: a reflection

A few days ago marked my first year as a software engineer, or as we like to say it here, my IFTTTerversary. It’s been an amazing first year, and I thought I’d reflect on some of the important things I’ve learned as someone starting out in this industry.

What has helped me be successful:

  1. An empathetic manager and team

During my first few months at IFTTT, I was flustered probably 99% of the time. I was able to confide in my manager and with members of my team around my feelings of overwhelm and insecurity. Having space to voice my concerns and not being met with disinterest was huge for me.

2. A culture of asking questions, sharing knowledge and providing feedback

At IFTTT we have a strong culture of knowledge sharing. The web team meets every week to discuss what we’ve been working on and present on different topics related to our stack. We often pair on tasks both in person and remotely, and give and receive feedback on one another’s code regularly. There isn’t a lot of ego on our team that keeps us from asking questions or admitting that we may not know the best solution. That’s what makes our final product so strong.

A few of the members of my incredible Web team

3. Conversations around diversity and inclusivity

We have diversity and inclusion meetings monthly. We don’t shy away from difficult conversations about bias and our own shortcomings, and that helps us move forward in making IFTTT a place where employees can feel appreciated for who they are. As a woman in tech it’s important to have a place where I can voice my perspective and feel heard, as well as listen to the experiences of others.

4. A dog-friendly office

The fact that IFTTT is dog-friendly is icing on the cake. My little dog Tulsi gets to come with me to work and sees our team as her extended family. Her presence is a stress release for everyone and her silly antics help make IFTTT a fun place to work.

Tulsi and her friend Finley

What is still hard:

  1. You can’t know everything and that can be uncomfortable.

It’s great to have moments where I can bang out a feature and feel confident about it, but a lot of my job is saying I’ll get something done without being 100% certain of how I will execute it. Our backend on web is all in Ruby, which I’ve had to pick up on the job. That’s where comfort with asking questions comes in, and having a team that sees strength in asking for help.

2. Not comparing myself to others.

It’s easy to look at how quickly another engineer produces work, or how easily they understand a concept and start comparing yourself against that person. This is something I still struggle with, and just acknowledging it when it comes up is powerful in dismantling its grip on my confidence.

Here’s to many more happy years at IFTTT! And some more pics of our office pups, of course:

From left to right: Gus, Zoe and Muffin

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