A Conversation with Surescripts' Terri Policy
If evening is rolling around and Terri Policy hasn't yet met her step goal, her Apple Watch dings at her. "I get this little cheering on at the end of the day saying to me, 'You can still do it!' And I think, of course I can still do it. I don't need those little pats on the back to meet my goals, particularly when it is something that is important to me," says Terri.
Terri is intrinsically motivated, as you may have figured out, which means she does the things she does without needing or expecting external rewards or validation—not even from Siri.
Terri is a Senior Principal Software Engineer at Surescripts, an organization that has been building a health information network designed to increase safety, lower costs, and improve quality since 2001. She has worked there for the last ten years. And while Terri likes the fact that she gets paid to work there, her salary isn't the thing that gets her out of bed in the morning. It's her passion for software development and diving into code that does that.
We sat down with Terri to talk about how to identify your passion, what intrinsic motivation at work looks like over time, and how Surescripts has fostered an environment of constant learning and curiosity that enables employees to have long careers full of personal and professional evolution.
First, work to identify your passion
In high school, Terri was fortunate that her math teacher acquired a hard to come by and cutting-edge Digital Equipment Corporation computer. Her teacher offered a computer science course which was also unique to that time in technology advancement. She jumped at the chance to sign up for the course. And there has been no looking back for her since.
"It was like a light bulb. I never wanted to do anything else," says Terri, who majored in computer science in college. "I've been incredibly fortunate to have found jobs throughout my career where I get to do heads down software development."
While Terri figured out what kind of work she loved pretty early on, that doesn't mean that every job she ever did was perfect for her. When she had jobs that didn't quite click with her interests, Terri went out and found something that did, and she thinks her approach may work for people struggling to connect with their work. "At one organization, when I realized that [my job] wasn't in my wheelhouse, I looked around and found a group of people that were doing something way more interesting," says Terri, "and I contacted the tech lead directly and let them know that I was really interested in the work that they were doing and inquired about their job openings. I made the connection and was hired to join the team. Sometimes going directly to the hiring manager works, sometimes it doesn't but I was lucky that it worked in this case.
She encourages other women looking for their passion to be equally relentless in seeking it out. "Nobody's going to come and yank you out of your seat and say, 'This is really where you should be' because nobody else really knows what you want to do – only you do. You have to do it yourself. You have to find your own path," she says.
Understand that intrinsic motivation at work is what leads to a long, meaningful career
Terri's passion for software development and opportunities to do the kind of work she is interested in is what has kept her excited to keep showing up to work for the last ten years at Surescripts.
Not everyone has that intrinsic motivation, she notes. This can lead to lots of jumping around over the course of a career, seeking a perfect set of external rewards, like salary and recognition, that may not exist or be fulfilling long term. "There can be a perception that if you want to rise, you can't stay anywhere more than maybe two or three years. And I do not hold that view. For me I find it to be a shortsighted view of a long-term career," says Terri. "There's value in getting experiences at multiple places, but there's also a great deal of value in staying put."
"If all that motivates you is something outside of you, you may always be chasing the next thing because it is generally a fleeting moment, that sense of reward," she adds. She encourages others to find an employer that has a purpose that speaks to you and people that you can relate with. Ask questions when interviewing about internal job movement. Money and title can be important, but it isn't everything.
Make sure you're in an environment that celebrates continuous learning
Terri and her wife have two daughters, and their neighbors have a daughter who is the same age as their eldest and is often at their house. One day, the neighbor's daughter asked Terri what she did for work.
"I didn't try to explain what I do. What I said was that I get to learn something new every day, and that keeps me going," remembers Terri. "I get to do that because Surescripts encourages me to do that." This point is what I value and wanted to convey to this child.
Surescripts gives employees the freedom and resources to identify new areas of study and to dive into them, including by sponsoring employees to go to tech conferences every other year and giving every staff member a Pluralsight license to pursue training programs of interest to them.
"We build large-scale software, and it's complex," says Terri. "It keeps you thinking, it keeps you sharp, and gives you the ability to continue to do deep dives into the technology. That, combined with the ability to learn something new every day and the encouragement I get from the company to constantly learn, those are the things that have kept me at Surescripts."
She encourages junior engineers to find their own intrinsic motivation at work by fostering their sense of curiosity and always being willing to learn. "If you're new, either to a company or your profession, you don't even know what you don't know," she says. Take notes as you are learning, show initiative, go above and beyond. You may end up excelling in your new role or finding that you have passion for another. Another important piece of advice to remember while going through your career, is that "it isn't all about being right. It's about cooperating and being respectful and realizing that other people come at their thought processes from different experiences, origins and perspectives." These perspectives are what brings about awesome ideas and the best products.
It may take some time to find what you love but listen to your inner voice and follow it. Don't be afraid to go after what you want. Ask questions. Show your interest. Provide value to your employer and continually learn no matter what stage of your career you are in. Do your best to take personal ownership for your career but also build relationships along the way so you can find mentors and people who will help advocate for you. This approach has served me well.
If you're interested in working at Surescripts, check out their open roles here.
- How to Find—And Foster—A Sense of Belonging at Work - PowerToFly Blog ›
- How to Find—And Foster—A Sense of Belonging at Work - PowerToFly Blog ›
💎 Are CallRail's engineering teams the right fit for you? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 Engineering teams at CallRail encourage collaboration, communication, and empathy. Ayana Reddick, Senior Software Engineer at CallRail, shares what they are looking for in candidates and tells you why you’ll thrive there.
📼Engineering teams want candidates who have a growth mindset, love to learn, and are really good at communication. They also value team members who are excited about solving problems and working collaboratively. If you think you have what it takes, don't hesitate to apply.
📼At CallRail, engineering teams use Ruby on Rails for their backend, Angular on their frontend, and PostgreSQL for persistent data. They also use Jira for creating and tracking tickets, GitHub for their version control, and AWS for many cloud tools. Get familiar with these resources if you want to join them!
Engineering Teams And Diversity - Company’s Culture
CallRail seeks to hire from underrepresented groups. They pride themselves in selecting from a pool of very diverse candidates. They value the work that people do over their resumes. They encourage people to take their authentic selves to work. And they strive to create a supportive and welcoming environment. For this, they have Employee Resource Groups, that give voice to, provide safe spaces for, and educate the company at large. Some of their ERGs include the Rainbow Coalition, Black and Brown, Women Circle, and more.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining CallRail? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ayana Reddick
If you are interested in a career at CallRail, you can connect with Ayana on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About CallRail
CallRail is here to bring complete visibility to the marketers who rely on quality inbound leads to measure success. Their customers live in a results-driven world, and giving them a clear view of their digital marketing efforts is the priority for CallRail. They see the opportunities in surfacing and connecting data from calls, forms, and beyond—helping their customers get to better outcomes.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
“In my early twenties, I wasn’t the best at saving money. So, when I got the job at Nike and found out a financial coach was offered to me — for free! — I thought, ‘It’s time to be an adult. I should use this service to help me learn how to buy stock, tell me what I’m doing right with my money and where I can improve.’”
That’s Ashlee Bobb, Nike Media and Influencer Relations Manager, on the free, unlimited access to financial coaching offered to every U.S. Nike employee through EY Navigate™. EY coaches are trained on Nike’s benefits and programs, so Ashlee was able to work with her coach on a budget and savings plan utilizing Nike’s 401k match and Employee Stock Purchase Plan – all in one 45-minute session. She left the meeting feeling confident about what her next paycheck would look like and how her money would work for her.
“The EY coaches are really willing to come on the journey with you,” Bobb says, adding that hers was willing to work with the fact that, hey, she’s not going to give up take out, but still wants to save for the future. “The cool thing is I can see how this financial guidance could help me down the road when I decide to get married, buy a house, have a kid. Every Nike employee should take advantage.”Sound like the kind of company you want to be a part of? Check out our open roles on jobs.nike.com
Erika Morrison is a naturally passionate and encouraging leader. From leading her family in giving back to their community, to coaching adolescents in track and cheer, to managing her team at Light & Wonder during the pandemic, her experience is rich with lessons to share with up-and-coming leaders.
“I believe in motivation, positivity, inspiring, finding the good in everything, everybody,” she says. In addition to 30+ years in the tech field, Erika is a wife, a mother of two, an avid exercise lover, and has even been a small-business owner.
We sat down with Erika to hear about the experiences that have led her to her current role as a Software Engineering Manager at Light & Wonder, as well as three practical ways to lead with purpose.
Seeing Potential in Others
Erika has always been fascinated by the world of technology. Growing up, she loved cassette tapes, DVD players, phones, and whatever other gadgets she could get her hands on. When her dad brought home a PC Junior, it didn’t take long before she started programming on it. She designed her own trivia game, using what she learned in her middle school programming classes. “I was typing the questions in and programming the answers. I had a blast writing it and showing it to my family. I remember I wanted to show everyone what I made. That was my first real desire to get into programming.”
Erika followed that instinct into college where she majored in Business Administration and minored in Computer Science. The kickstart to her tech career came when she landed a computer operating job while still in school. She comments, “I was originally applying for a secretarial position at this company. But someone looked at my studies and experience and saw potential in me. I didn't think I was ready for that because I was still so young, I was still in school.”
Erika went on to work as a programmer analyst and software engineer for multiple major Casino based companies. During this time, she even started and ran a local event-planning business, which fine-tuned her skills in successful customer service.
Then, someone saw potential in Erika again. A former coworker reached out and offered her a leadership position with the company that would become Light & Wonder. Erika took on the role of Software Engineering Manager and says “it’s been opportunity after opportunity ever since.”
Managing Through the Pandemic
Erika believes that the best way to lead a team is to really get to know its members. “A lot of leading is knowing the people on your team,” she explains. “Know what each person needs — What may work for one person may not work for someone else. We have to take a little bit of who they are into consideration when attempting to motivate, to coach, to inspire because we're not all motivated by the same things.”
Prior to the pandemic, Erika and her team worked together in the office, which gave her the opportunity to do so. Once the pandemic hit, however, she had to pivot to incorporating virtual meetings to be able to generate that intimacy. She organizes bi-monthly check-ins with her team members where she intentionally asks for their individual preferences on communication and feedback.
“I have one-on-ones with each of my staff every two weeks. We go over the issues that they've had and then any questions or concerns or anything that they want to chat about. Sometimes it's business and sometimes it's personal. But, I feel like taking that extra time out just to have those conversations is extremely important.”
She also cohosts weekly remote Friday cocktail hours to cultivate her team’s relationships and check in on their mental health. “During the Friday cocktail hours, we would relax, ask some questions, or play some games. And it was nice to have that interaction again and connect with the team. It also allowed me to check in on everyone's mental health and make sure that if there was anything that we could do, we were here.”
Inspired to Encourage the Team
Erika is inspired by the example of her past and current mentors and their vision for her professional trajectory. She acknowledges that it was thanks to key people who saw her potential that she has been able to have these experiences. Erika’s own personal drive and passion for encouraging and uplifting others have led her to love her leadership position.
As a manager, Erika seeks the highest level of respect and excellence for her customers, while creating an encouraging work environment for her team. “I want to make sure that my team has everything that they need in order to succeed and get their jobs done the way they want to. I want them to have the level of success that they want.”
Erika ensures that her team members feel their significant contribution to the company and how they are serving with purpose. “We need to feel like we are part of something significant,” she says. “That’s my goal as a leader and for my team.”
3 Ways to Lead with Purpose:
Drawing from her experiences as a tech leader, business owner, coach, and community volunteer, she gives us three practical ways to lead with purpose in whatever context.
- Understand the “why”. “It’s extremely important to know the why of your company. Once you understand it from the company’s perspective, you can communicate it clearly to the team. And once you get that down, you’re able to help build a strong path for them to follow so that both “why’s” are in alignment. Knowing the why of your individual team members allows you to better manage, assist, and build a relationship with them.”
- Build consistency. “I think it’s very important that we are consistent and don't deviate from the why and the task at hand. Building consistency with others motivates and inspires people to give their best, even when we don’t feel like it. When dealing with a change or a huge transition, it’s extremely important to stick to the why’s, the steps we’re taking, and the right attitude."
- Remain positive. “You have to find positivity in everything because no matter what, it could always be worse. We can always find the negative things, but there are also always positive things. As a leader, I need to be empathetic, kind, and encouraging no matter what. It’s extremely important that I’m positive and involve my team members in the process.”