As an educational start-up, we know that the more diverse our teams are, the better our product will be. We also know that there are too few women developers applying for jobs in Seattle. Our mission states that “We all have the opportunity to learn to our potential.” So when we heard about Ada Developers Academy, an intensive school in software development exclusively for women with no prior experience in computer programming, we decided to learn more and then to partner with them. Now, Enlearn engineers contribute to the Ada community of learners as mentors to the Ada cohorts, hearing from them about their capstone projects, and current work.
We are enthusiastic about supporting this important program and want to see it flourish and begin to fill the growing need for female software developers in this industry. This led us to the decision to sponsor an Ada intern for 5 months. We’ve had a great experience with our first intern, Amy, who joined our pairing teams in April, and we hope that other companies, big and small, will consider supporting and benefiting from this program too.
Two months into her internship at Enlearn, I had a chance to sit down with Amy to hear about her experience.
Alison: What words come to mind when you think about your first few weeks here at Enlearn?
Amy: It’s been a welcoming whirlwind. I’ve loved it. This internship has brought me an overwhelming influx of new information and experiences, and I’m grateful to have the support of my team in helping me get up to speed with our code-base as well as learning about general programming concepts. Everyday of the internship I am becoming more familiar with Enlearn’s processes and working in a new programming language, and as I learn and grow I can make increasingly meaningful contributions to our projects. My goal is to be employable as a software developer by the end of this internship, and I know that my time at Enlearn will help me to reach that goal.
Alison: Walk us through your first few days at Enlearn. What did it look like and how was your reception?
Amy: From day one, I felt like I have been treated as a peer and that Enlearn is excited to have me. Even though I was joining a team with a great deal of technical experience and I had never worked on software at a professional level, the warm welcome made the transition from the classroom portion of Ada to the internship phase much easier for me. My first day here I was given an overview of what Enlearn does, and then I began to work with the other developers on my team on production code. I mostly observed and asked a lot of questions to try to gain a better understanding of what they were working on.
Alison: How did you decide that you wanted to intern at Enlearn?
Amy: After Enlearn gave a presentation at Ada, I was immediately drawn to their goal of adapting curriculum to an individual student’s needs. Before internship placements were determined, I had the opportunity to visit the Enlearn office and sit in on a group programming session. I got to see how the developers worked with each other. And even though I wasn’t familiar with the project they were working on or knew anything about their tech stack, I was able to follow along. They took a collaborative, methodical approach to solving the problem and the overall tone of the session was lively and positive. Also, it was important to me to intern at a company that uses pair programming, because I would have the opportunity to gain technical knowledge by working in tandem with more experienced developers as well as improve my confidence in contributing ideas in a team setting. I knew that I could thrive interning at Enlearn because of all of these factors, and I’m glad that I’m here.
Alison: What does a typical day look like for you here at Enlearn?
Amy: I have a daily standup meeting with my team in the morning and we spend the majority of the day working on tasks for the current sprint. Depending on what is scheduled, this can include adding new features to our platform, fixing bugs, improving performance of our systems, and deployment. I also have some dedicated time during the week devoted to working with a mentor on test-driven programming challenges to improve my technical skills.
Alison: How is your Ada education serving you here in your internship?
Amy: One of the most important skills I gained during my time at Ada was learning how to constantly learn. We moved through the curriculum at a brisk pace, and I was continually having to familiarize myself with new material. Even though I’m currently working in a tech stack different from the one I studied at Ada, many of the concepts that I learned in class are similar, so that previous knowledge is incredibly helpful as I’m learning new technologies here at Enlearn.
Alison: When and how did you decide that you wanted to go into programming?
Amy: I had been looking for a career change, and when I heard about Ada Developers Academy and their mission to diversify the tech community by equipping people from underrepresented communities with software development skills, I was intrigued. As I did some research and began to familiarize myself with programming fundamentals, I discovered that I loved the creative problem solving and constant learning that are at the heart of software development. Previously, I was under the false impression that because I hadn’t followed a traditional computer science path of education, I wouldn’t be able to work in this field. The training that I’ve received through Ada coupled with the non-technical educational and work experience I’ve received prior to learning programming have empowered me to be a well-rounded developer and able to offer a different perspective when it comes to building software.
Alison: What is your favorite part about working on problems at Enlearn?
Amy: Knowing that the work I am doing will impact a student’s ability to learn to their full potential is incredibly rewarding to me. It’s great motivation to do the best work that I can, because someone else will benefit from the effort. I’m grateful to gain experience in software development while striving to realize a worthwhile mission.
For more information about Ada Developers Academy and hiring Ada graduates or becoming a sponsor, click here.