Setting the Stage for the Stories of Women in Software Engineering at Wayfair
Our Engineering department at Wayfair spans two countries and more than 2,300 people. Discovering the interesting paths some of them have taken into tech can seem daunting given the numbers, so our Talent team chose to start local and host an exciting event for Boston students.
"How She Got There", hosted at Wayfair's Boston headquarters, provided an opportunity for local students to learn from women on a variety of our software engineering teams. Each woman shared her journey, plus career advice, to a group of attendees who came from more than 15 different universities. These students left feeling inspired and educated about making the transition from university to the tech industry as a software engineer.
"I had the opportunity to attend Wayfair's How She Got There event and absolutely loved hearing everyone's stories. Thank you for hosting this incredible and important event!" – Attendee from Boston College
Getting to Know Our Speakers
Our four speakers are currently part of the Wayfair Engineering team, and each have a different career path which diversified the discussion. First up, Rebekah Heacock Jones, a Senior Engineer on our Pricing and Profitability team, discussed how after a few stints as a technical product manager, internet censorship researcher, educational tour guide, and nonprofit co-director, she finally turned to engineering two and a half years ago and regrets nothing.
Next, Katherine Tabinowski, part of the same Pricing and Profitability group, spoke about how after working in the e-commerce and marketing worlds, she found an unexpected passion for coding through fashion blogging, and pivoted into tech to start a new career in engineering.
Tasneem Sirohiwala, Associate Director in our Transportation Engineering team, shared how she was inspired by how architectural drawings transform into real life structures and their similarities with building creative software solutions.
Lastly, Lindsey Bleimes, Director of Engineering for our Catalog Systems Department and most recently at SXSW, shared that with a degree in Computer Science, she started writing logistics software for a Navy contractor. Since then she's taken a few career gambles, including changing industries, taking a step back, and moving from Washington D.C. to Boston. She also moved to Berlin to ramp up our software engineering team in Europe, which is now more than 250 people strong!
Key Takeaways We Learned
During the event, we heard each speaker's personal journey, as well as career advice for women studying computer science and finding work in the technology industry.
- Take risks:
- Change is scary, but the industry evolves quickly, so change can be a low-risk move. Don't be afraid to take a chance, because no one decision is likely to make or break your career. Remember that agile development is a great framework not only for creating software, but also for life.
- Be curious:
- Always seek to learn new things and don't accept the status quo – you'll grow by questioning and developing new ideas.
- Keep an open mind:
- Don't be afraid to take on a new challenge and open yourself up to new opportunities you hadn't planned for.
- Build your network:
- Attending events, like "How She Got There", is a great way to meet people you can learn from. Always take the opportunity to grab a coffee and chat with people to learn about new perspectives and develop a network for your career growth.
- Your mental health is important:
- Focus on taking care of yourself in order to perform your best.
- Your career path and your journey are unique:
- There will be several twists and turns throughout your career that are impossible to predict, but everything happens for a reason and everyone's journey is different. Swim in your own lane!
"How She Got There" was such a successful event, inspiring many women in tech to pursue their own journey. We'll be hosting another event in June, and we've recently been involved in sponsoring events such as TechTogether Boston, Boston's largest all-female and non-binary hackathon. The hackathon aims to bring together and empower femme and non-binary individuals interested in tech. If you're interested in more initiatives and are keen to join the Wayfam, apply here!
I thought about writing this blog piece like one of those quizzes that used to be on the back pages of Seventeen and Cosmo where each question would offer several answers of varying point levels and you'd pick one answer per question, tally up your points at the end, and match your score to one of several possible results.
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