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Career Conversations: Transcript: Software Engineers


DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of realtime captioning.  The primary focus of realtime captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding.

Career Conversations:  Discussion between YA Librarian Llyr Heller and Software Engineers and Developers: Lauren Marmel, Charlie Wilkins and Kevin Choubacha

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Hello everyone, and welcome! My name is LLyr, I’m a librarian at Teen’scape. Welcome to our next installment of Career Conversations. This is going to be recorded for our podcast so thank you for Robis for recording. Your voice will be recorded so we will be repeating a question from audience members, when we take the questions.   And now for introductions. I’d like to welcome Kevin, an architect staff engineer at Weedmaps, Lauren, the systems engineer at Automattic, and Charlie Wilkins, an engineer at Selbrite. Thank you for joining us today. So the first question is, describe what you do as well as what your company does overall.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I hope I hold this close enough! So I work for Weedmaps, our company is focused on connecting consumers to weed and facilitating the legalization and normalization around recreational and medicinal cannabis. I specifically work on the architecture of our software platforms so we have Weedmaps.com is our main domain. We also own several others like Cannabis.com and Marijuana.com. And we're expanding into other markets as well. What I help the company with is figuring out what databases and what our API is should look like, and helping design out and plan the implementations of those.


SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): An API an application program interface. It's the way in which a programmer can interface with another piece of software. Typically in modern tech, modern web, that is describing an HTTP interface, but API can describe anything. Which is a big part of what we do. Go ahead…

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): So my name is Lauren, I work for Automattic, which is the parent company behind Wordpress.com. I don't know if you guys have heard of WordPress, but it's an online publishing platform. So any user can create a website, get it online  And then in addition to that, we do enterprise customers as well so that means most of the major news publications use our platform, as part of their online presence, and that includes companies like CNN, NBC, Time, many, many of the major news publications. And what I do there is I'm on the system's team, and work specifically within the realm of stability. So I work to help ensure that the code that we run on this platform that affects millions and millions of users, is not prone to errors, is secure, so it's not getting hacked, or your user information isn't getting shared, and that it's fast. So when you go ahead and access any of these sites on your mobile phone or an internet browser that the page loads really quickly, and you can interact with it really quickly.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Have any of you read a blog? Do you know what a blog is? Have you seen a blog? Say yes, or no. Okay most blogs, the software behind it, is usually WordPress.  Right? So…

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): WordPress is 29.2% of the sites on the internet right now.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): That's impressive! My name is Charlie Wilkins. I am a senior developer, you know, guy, engineer, technologist at a company called Sellebrite. And the name doesn't tell you much, not as exciting, but what we do is… we do a multi-channel inventory and sales management for small and medium businesses, online retailers. So say you're a person that has obtained some inventory, like you have all these awesome Pokemon socks, and you're like, what am I going to do with all these awesome Pokémon socks? Well we can help you. We'll help you put them on eBay, and Amazon, Shopify, and Etsy. It’s a little iffy… So yeah, so my role there is… do a lot of different things. We only have 20 people, so at companies that small, I do, like setup servers, I write a lot of application code, I review a lot of code. Reading code is really important, and that's me!

Do you have any questions? I’m going to pick someone! [Laughter].

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Well, we’ll keep warming the audience up! [Laughter]. So, in terms of schooling, what kind of classes do you recommend?

 SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Um, through my experience I found that mathematics, anything that kind of like enriches your ability to think logically, so math and science are definitely the forefront of what I found useful in my day to day. Software is a very super logical construct. You have to always be thinking about, so that… I mean that's where I would focus. I'm glad that I was able to, in my schooling.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Yeah I would agree, math is really important and that's probably what makes the most sense. It’s interesting, because we work in an industry that changes so quickly, that I wouldn't say there's any particular class that may be outside of something like math or a heavily science based, that will make it easy for you to get a job, or work in the right language, because the languages change, the tools change, it's an interesting field in that degree. I have a master's degree in computer science, but I would say what I learned in school was not the most relevant to my day-to-day job. There's a lot of also like online courses you can take as well as, just I would say, trying to learn build anything, and I think that's really, really the most valuable probably.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Math/Science it's great it's along with that, a lot of critical thinking which, I don't know, like, when I went to school, there was there was like, you know, “how to think critically” which, you know, [Laughter]. I think that's important how to evaluate different sources of information, etc. How to, you know, distinguish between opinions and facts and that kind of stuff. I mean, that's a very low level…In addition to the math and science and communication. English, writing skills, really important. Not only because you will work with a lot of people that have a hard time communicating ideas. Like I'm having. (Laughter). But, you know, yeah, it helps if you're able to get down in the written word, these complex ideas and convey them to someone else. Ultimately that's what programming is. You're not writing, I mean you are writing code for the computer to understand, but you're also writing it for other people to understand. So just work on communication skills. I think that's important. Yes.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Yeah just that’ll give you an advantage too because not everybody in our field does have those, so if you do, then that really sets you apart as well.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Yeah, I want to echo that as well. But in addition to that, when you're actually writing the code, being able to structure in a way that the code itself can communicate, so you can like, not just your ability to communicate to another, but to communicate through writing is really important as well. To understand how different objects in, and, in language, in and in code, relate to language semantics, like nouns and verbs and parts of speech and stuff like that, can, can really facilitate communication through your code.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Any Questions about that?

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Any questions volunteers? So, [Laughter]. Members of the audience that know the speakers? [Laughter]. So to segue way from what you were saying Lauren, a lot of times in these career conversations, “But what can I do now?” and you said, oh it’s not necessarily what you’re learning in school, it’s your day to day. So are there high school internships, college internships in your field? In particular where you all work at?

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): (Coughs). There’s not actually at my company, so, [Laughter], I mean it would be [Laughter], great, but….

SPEAKER 3 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): Tell them why there isn’t. Because you’re 18 and over company; a distributor…

SPEAKER 6 (FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): Id there a certain internship that you guys did [unintelligible].

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): I can take that one. I actually met these two fine gentlemen at a job that I had an internship, at to start, like I said, I had a master's degree, but like zero experience, and didn't know how to do anything, and I started working at this company, that is now actually just few blocks down, called NationBuilder, and I interned there for a semester, summer, while I was at school and then they ended up hiring me full-time once I graduated and that's really what launched my career it's like I said how I met these two. Yeah, to answer their question, my company Automattic does not offer internships, because as Charlie was saying we're distributed, so we don't have even though we have actually 6 to 700 employees worldwide, we don't have an office. Everybody works from home, and we communicate specifically, mostly over text in chat which is also why communication is really important because we do we write everything we don't even speak it, but that's why we in particular don't offer internships, but most companies do.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): WeedMaps does not, and we’re not completely distributed, we are somewhat distributed. Umm, I think we’ve discussed it, I do think they are great ways to get people into the industry. Um I personally the way that I entered, I actually studied Microbiology in college, and ended up going into Computer Science, not in school, but because I really liked video games. And there were some frameworks out there that allowed me to like program and muck around with different programs and video game technologies, and it was like way over my head, so what I did; it’s kind of ironic that we’re in a library; I bought a book, I got a book that was like 1200 pages long, and I just started reading it. And every code example in there, I could pull out my laptop, I could install it. It was all open, open source. It was like everything was out there for me to use. So I was able to just start playing with it, and really got involved. I had to learn really complex things in order to get an application running. Like to get the game that I wanted which was just asteroid shooter. [Laughter]. Like I had to understand like how spatial things can like detect whether they are next to each other or colliding with each other. And that mathematics was actually like something I didn’t know before, but had to learn. And so it was the process of wanting to build something that got me the education that I needed to then move on in my career.      

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): We don't have internships and I never took an internship I had a mentor when I think I was 18, 17 or 18, and I met, you know his friend of mine that I worked with, but he was very interested in computers. He had, at one time, he was a roommate, and we had our living room, [Laughs], had like this tower of dead Amiga. Amiga, well I think it means friend or something. No, it’s this this old 1970s consumer computer product, so, it's a dead product now, but they were really popular for a while. So mentor if you can find them. That's hard to do. I what I would also say be lucky, [Laughter], and actually that brings up another point. Something that kind of helps a lot, Lauren has gotten way better at it, and Kevin was always good at it, uh, being able to talk to people. In addition to the written communication, but just being able to talk to people at conferences, or Meetups, and… And oh that brings up a third point! In addition to the not having internships, trying to find a mentor, be lucky, but there's also great resources in the community, especially around open source; Meetup com.  You can, if you're interested in any level of technology, or anything, there's some weird areas on there, but is stay in the tech area. A lot of these companies will host these Meetups and you can go and meet someone who is, you know, if they're there, they probably either want to share or, or yeah. They probably want to help.  You know, so I haven't had a bad experience with Meetup com yet. So that's a great resource if you're interested.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): The first Meetup I ever attended was with Charlie and I didn't want to talk to anybody. I like sat on the side, and he pushed me in. But later on I then started attending Meetups, like at a different job, because I was hiring, and that's when I really started talking to people, because it's like-minded folks, and they're all getting together to learn about the same topic, and so it's a great recruitment platform. And so Meetups are really, really great in that respect.

Also one note on the internships, which I don't know if everybody knows this but, computer science, software engineering internships are paid. So unlike a lot of other industries so you can actually often almost support yourself on an internship. Which is not like many, many industries in fact. I think actually as an intern, just to kind of like give you numbers,  I remember when I was starting out, I was making the same amount as an intern, that my friend, was who was like a coordinator at DreamWorks, or something like that. So it really can pay off financially too.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): And with regards to Meetups, Weedmaps has started doing Meetups on a monthly basis. We're gonna have one February 27th, down in Orange County, that's where…we're based in Irvine. So if you can find us on Meetup, you can come and join us and learn about Elixir and some other languages that were we're working with there, and the problems that we're solving. Then, meet a lot of people who are you know heavily invested in the community, because we're all software engineers, so.

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Well I just have a follow up question, and that’s amazing that the internships are paid, that is very rare. So mentorship, you know all of that, so for librarians, there is a database and you can like submit yourself and get a mentor. Is there such a thing in your career area? Or do you have to know someone to kind of get you in the right path? And they can introduce you to them…uh, a mentor.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Um a lot of companies do like, once you’re in a company, the companies themselves help facilitate um mentorship. Uh, it’s one of the cornerstones, like a kind of apprentice type role. That’s where I learned a lot, when I was working at Riot Games, which makes League of Legends. I learned a lot from a couple of people that I worked with, and being able to work with them on a daily basis, really invigorated my career. I don’t know of one online. [Mumbles] well like a database…But there are plenty of online resources, and places that you can start asking questions. StackOverflow, Reddit, has a lot of sub Reddits that are really good. Um, one of my favorite languages that I have been playing with right now called RUST. They have a lot of open IRC channels, which you can just go and it’s kind of dated technology, not the language…it’s stable, stable technology! Stable is a good word.


SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): What does IRC stand for? Internet Relay Chat. It’s a chat client.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): So it’s like, SLACK or what AOL instant messenger used to be, but really solid. [Laughter]. Kind of like G-Chat but different.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): It just seems antiquated when you use it, but it’s like what a lot of what the Internet was like of like built around. Like the conversations…

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): We still use it at Automattic, Yeah…only our team…

 SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Mozilla, heavily uses, um, IRC. Almost all of their communications are IRC. And if you go there, you can actually meet people there who are writing the languages themselves. And they love, love love love to communicate with people. Um, there’s a couple of people that I know, that I don’t personally know, but I see them reach out and constantly engage with anyone asking questions online. And I think there’s a new term that they started using called Developer Advocates. And they’ll go out and they’ll find people, find anyone asking a question, and try to answer it. Or point them in the direction that they need to find the answer.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Actually yeah, so WordPress is open source software, but it's something that we also use in a private manner as well to make money. But the open source platform does have, I don't know if any of you are familiar with Slack? It’s a, it's a chat way to chat, it's a free software. It’s like a messenger, but you can, you can, look it up. Slack.com. And, you can create your username and group, and you can talk with people in WordPress. The open source community runs a lot of its operations off of Slack, so anybody can go into a Slack channel for Wordpress.org, and ask a question about, “How do I get started? How do I develop on this software?” And someone will almost instantaneously answer. And that said as well, because Wordpress.org is open-source like what Kevin was talking about; free software developed by a community for community. You can get started almost immediately there's how-to guides, people will point you in the directions of like easy bugs or things to read, and you can start submitting patches that way, and that is how people definitely will also kind of start about the career as well as by going to the… do we…it’s doing work for free, it's doing work that affects a lot of people, and kind of gets your name out as well.

SPEAKER 7 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): Why would people work for free?

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Passion. [Laughter] Yeah passion, but I also think too, a lot of people because this is an open source platform that many, many businesses use…a lot of people are professional developers that use this on a day to day basis and they're building also this public application because they're still using it and they want these features. But yeah passion I would say drives probably a lot of us in this field. Passion of money [Laughter]

SPEAKER 7 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): Kevin, what have been some ups and downs? [Laughter]

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Well it was all up until I met…[Laughter] Ups and downs, it does that there are some ebbs and flows for sure in programming and sometimes you're… you can get stuck at a company that's like not progressing you, that's what happened to me. It met the first company I was at, they wanted to put me on a track that would take like four years to advance, but I was advancing quickly, like, I felt I was advancing faster than that. And so you have to know… My lesson from that was know what your abilities are and what you can do, and then pursue that and don't allow people to like slow you down or get in your way. That's easier said than done, but and there's risk involved if you start pushing.

And up? Lots of ups, I mean the for me, the biggest ups are always when I get to learn something new, so like when I get to learn a new language, learn and interact with a new database, or when I complete a project, when I ship something, and I can show someone on my phone, or on a website, and be like, “I did that.” One of the biggest ones this past year, in anticipation of legalization of marijuana, one of the things that we've been pushing for or building, was the ability to brought like show the brands of different cannabis vendors that are out there. You can think of them like a Budweiser, or of course like it, [Laughter]. You guys might not be old enough for this, but, [Laughter], it was its kind of a big thing. Because when something becomes legal, the brands start to matter, like, what I can trust… the product that I'm buying, and so what we did was, we built it a way for a brand and a vendor, like, I just, like a dispensary, or delivery service, to make sure that that they were good. Right? That what you were buying was actually what you thought you were buying. Right? I mean if you're buying a controlled substance, like, you want to know that you're buying it from a reputable source. You don't want to be buying something shady… [Laughter] And so we built that. We built something that allowed that to happen, and I was able to show people and there's a little badge that shows up when the when the product is endorsed by the brand, and then you know that when you're going to the dispensary that you're getting with that actual thing. And we spend over a year building this platform out and when we actually shipped it, I felt really good.

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR):  What about you two?

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): There's more ups than downs. I'll tell you that. There are worse things you could do. [Laughter] Right? We all work in air-conditioned offices, we're given most all of the resources we could need to do what we need to do. I think the big risk is there's too many snacks…[Laughter] So the downs is like, maybe not getting enough exercise, but yeah, you know and I think of the different careers that you could have like, I could be in the Bering Strait like those guys on A Most Dangerous Catch, or you know… I which, I mean, I love seeing it on TV, but I'm gonna go work in an office where it's air-conditioned and a Coke Zero is 20 feet away. That’s nice. It’s been a good, like I said, you know if you if you have an interest and aptitude in a technology. [Mumbling].

There are so many upsides to a career in technology… Even if you… Yeah, and then I know all of us wear this to work, every day, so that's another…

SPEAKER 8 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): So is there like a dress code for work?

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): That's yeah…

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Sorry, we're recording so I have to repeat the question. So the question is, is there a dress code for your jobs? So if you work at home, or in an office.

 SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I have to wear pants. [Laughter], I mean these are pants. Short pants, or long pants, usually a shirt. [Laughter]. There… okay… I mean to seriously answer your question, occasionally in an office environment there have been, I remember at Nation Builder, there was someone who had some sort of feet hygiene issues, so you know I mean, be respectful. Other than that like they want you to be comfortable so that your brain can like, you know, churn out quality product.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Yeah I would say that it's actually, its very company dependent. Most companies now, that are technic companies, don't have stringent dress codes, but there are companies out there that do. If you go and work for IBM say, hey you probably or AT&T you might have a dress code. But, if you go work if you work for Weedmaps, or you work for Automattic or Selbrite, or any of these other companies and you won't…

SPEAKER 8 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): So you are a programmer for Weedmaps?

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): [Laughter]. Yeah, this is the… [Laughter]… You missed the introductions… Yes. Yeah, no, uh most of the companies I've worked at don't have strict dress codes but sometimes when you go and meet with actual customers, you will need to like, dress up, like business casual is the highest. That’d be fine. You just gotta patch that hole… [Laughter].

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Any questions from the audience? Yes! Right there. [Mumbling].

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Oh, he asked if we are all university graduates?

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): How did you get to working with marijuana?

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Well, I was a purveyor, [Laughter]. A consumer as it were, and I felt strongly about the legalization of it. And the opportunity arose. I was recruited. They reached out to me through my LinkedIn profile.

SPEAKER 8 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): Silly question, but you guys are all university students, correct? You didn’t learn programming by yourselves?

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Oh, he asked if we are all university graduates?

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I don't want to encourage anyone to drop out of high school, but I did. I said earlier that luck is very important, and I have had an abundance of luck, I had the mentorship. I got I started at Disney when I was 19. In their, at Disney Online, their corporate group that handled all that kind of stuff, and if you were to go that route you definitely want to get in at a fortune 50 where you can make mistakes on someone else's dime. With that aside, I am, I had mentors, and I was kind of very enthusiastic and autodidactic; self-taught, and peer taught in a lot of ways. So well university wasn't for me, I had an interest in the field so that helped a lot. But stay in school kids!

 SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I graduated from a university, but not I did not learn to program in school. I actually learned after and taught myself. So I studied microbiology and I'm grateful that I was able to study like a science and got a large mathematics and background. And I use that what I learned all the time which was the ability to learn. Like I learned how to learn in college, more than would have like actually used the specifics of what I learned, if that makes sense.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): And I guess I should say to my undergraduate degree is in art in art history. I definitely did not think that was initially what I was gonna do, and I kind of took the opposite route, that Kevin did where I didn't know what else, I didn't know how you learned, or how you were to go about it so I did the only thing I knew which was, I started taking night classes, and then eventually started going to community college full-time to figure out like what this was and then applied to grad school, because that was that was the only path I knew, but it wasn't… I think like all of us know none of it was a direct like we went to school knowing that we were gonna do this and that was how we followed through. Kind of, we found our way.

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): I have a quick question. Well what, okay so if you could describe a typical workday and I love that some is freelance, so can you set your own hours? What does a day look like? And you as a freelancer, do you have to work like 10 hour days? 12 hour days? Etc.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): My current job is as an architect I'm in a lot of meetings all day, so I don't get to set my own hours that often. I end up being, I have to be present for the meetings, but when I am, when I was writing software, it was much more freeform. Especially since I work remotely from my home. I don't need to, when I'm writing software, I don't need to be there, like, from 9:00 to 5:00. If I want to take a break during the day, to go grocery shopping, or for a walk, I'm free to do that because, and I think that's important in software engineering, because so much of it is a creative process. There's a lot of critical thinking, there's a lot of logic, there's a lot of rational thought, but in order to be successful, you have to have moments of inspiration to connect the dots. Like you can outline your problem, but sometimes outlining the problem is the hardest part. And so, like to understand it and decompose it, sometimes I need to go for a walk. I need to like, sleep on it. I need to have the flexibility to engage in non-standard thought in some way like. Like really grasp the problem, and then I can move towards the solution. And so, in that way, my days are atypical most of the time. I try to figure some amount of structure and routine in. Without any routine it's chaos! So you need some structure, but generally it's pretty flexible. If I need to take the time, I can take the time.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): So, maybe I should just clarify… So none of us are freelance right now, so there's distributed work I think, which Kevin and I do, which maybe is a little confusing, is [they don’t have a central office]. Yeah, it's very unique to tech, and I think we're one of the only industries that do it. Whereas, you still it's like, normal jobs, same requirements. It's just that you don't have a central office as Charlie said, but similar to what Kevin did, is I also work all the time, in weird hours, from my home. But I, a lot of my team is based, not in the US, so that really dictates a lot of my schedule, is sometimes I'm having meetings at 6:00 a.m. because I'm talking to people in Eastern Europe, and then sometimes I'm having meetings at 6:00 p.m. because I'm talking to people in Australia, so the remote work kind of allows that flexibility, but it's not necessarily a very strict schedule. For the most part I actually do work… I'm an early riser, so it works really well for me to get up at like 6:00am or 5:00am, and then you know quit my day mainly, like at 3:00 or something like that. Because that that's a better schedule for me, but um yeah, like Kevin said, I feel like so much of what we do is driven by these like moments of insanity, where all of a sudden you get it, and you like want to go and you'll work for like four or five, like I've had moments where it's gotten dark, and the lights are off and I don't even realize that around me you know it's just like this this like insane sort of which is really scary for the people you live with, who just like come home and see you in the dark, like staring at a screen, but it is, I think this very off and on kind of pattern that that we work best in.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I probably have the most structured of the three of us. I go to an office. Little pro tip, try to live as close to your office as possible, if you have to go to an office. My commute is four miles. I know in Los Angeles, that's very challenging. Yeah, so typical day to day: I roll in about 9:45, you know, and that gives me time to get a cup of coffee, and then at 10 o'clock the whole team, about 8 of us, get together and we discuss yesterday. And it's kind of a loose plan for today, just to make sure there everybody is you know moving towards a goal. And then you know we work, eat some lunch, go to a meeting, if you have to, I don't, I attend maybe three meetings a week, and some of those I just walk out of. [Laughter]. Yes and then you know, I'm out, some anywhere between 4:30 and 8 p.m. usually closer to 5:30, five o'clock. So…but there have been times in my career when I would get up at 4 a.m., start reading writing code, and continue until midnight, and so, you know, okay, be prepared for that. It's not every day, but it'll, you know, they're definitely be periods of time when it's like that, but right now I'm in a good spot, and that I come in, I do what I need to do, and then I go work on my home projects. [Laughter].

 One thing has been sort of instrumental in my career, is having an interest outside of any job right? Like at one point I was making just some different pieces of software that I was really interested in how they worked, and I wanted to make one for myself, so… you know, just for an example say you wanted to you make a calculator. Let's make a calculator. You know, hopefully you can find some use or some application that is of interest to you, and use that as like a springboard to aid in staying interested enough to learn parts of the tech that you're maybe not that enthusiastic about. So find a little hobby, and then you know use computer technology to further that and to further your self-education. Is there a question?

 SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Any questions? Yes!

 SPEAKER 7 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): I’m in banking, and I’m actually looking to pivot to IT or Software or development, or anything like that, and so I’m starting from the ground floor ,like right I’m in the process of learning Pearl….

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): JavaScript!

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Pearl was my first language. Thank you Kevin.

 SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Pearl is not a good starting point, Pearl it was my starting point. We're losing people! So, props on that, but I would start looking at Ruby. I like Ruby. I'm biased. JavaScript is a good thing to start getting familiar with. Yeah start there. Oh what actually led you to Pearl?  

SPEAKER 7 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): The reason why is because I like supermetrics. So I actually have a fantasy baseball. So in terms of creating an algorithm, or basically a program, I heard from other people that I talk to that, when you use the Pearl Script, it’s really easy to pull the information from fan graphs from other baseball sites, and basically able to go in, and create a betting process. Again, I don’t know anything about programming languages, but it’s something that has fascinated me. It’s a pivot ya know? 

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): That's kind of a key word. If you find yourself fascinated by technology, you're off to a good start. So, props!

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): Python might actually be really good for what you're looking at because Python has some really good number mathematic libraries. Better than the ones that I know of for Pearl or JavaScript or Ruby.

 SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Yeah I the only reason I said JavaScript not knowing what you're doing is that, it's very easy there's a lot of user feedback in it because you're essentially doing something that's very visual, so you can see your code actually working and running really well, as also it’s very also it's very applicable…. Easyish to get going on but still teaches you this the fundamentals, I would say. Kevin disagrees…

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Gimme you info, give it to that lady in the back. [Laughter] 

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): And I just wanna plug a database we have at the library, we have the database, Lynda, so some programs you can learn on it for free, with your library card at home. So if you’re wondering how to find that, you can ask us at the desk. And questions?

SPEAKER 8 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): What are your salaries and tax returns? [Laughter] Just salaries … [Laughter]

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Just a general knowledge, of what kind of salaries one makes in your field.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): [Laughter] Let’s just say generally you will make six figures.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I think, I think a lot of starting salaries, if you go through boot camp, like one of the boot camps, or you can establish yourself as proficient in a language, the starting salaries range from anywhere from sixty to ninety thousand and that kind of range. Once you have three to five years of experience you can start getting into the ninety to like a hundred and thirty thousand range. Past that if you're excelling, then, the sky’s the limit. I know that top engineers at Microsoft and Google and Facebook make upwards of seven figures.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Those are unicorns though. I mean they're you know, they're um you know, nobody up here, I'll tell you that. Yeah I mean, we're all north of six figures, so without going into any details…

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Yeah, I think also too it's where you want to work as well, so we have all chosen to work smaller companies where we have a lot of freedom, I think as well, if you're looking out at Google or Facebook which also will require for sure some sort of CS degree I would say. Those companies will generally pay once you get really good easily I think two to three hundred once you get into bonuses and things like that, but with that comes different sets of rules and regulations.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): So they also tend to pay with equity.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Yeah, so right, so it’s a package I guess we should say. So if you go that route, you'll probably make and you can get into the seven figures make more money, but it is it's different than I think the path that we've all chosen.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Well one, I wasn't gonna go on our Facebook or Google anyway earlier on, and I don't think this is the case now, but it was very like there are some like, they were Harvard, Yale only, kind of rumors about Google, but I don't know if that's still the case.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I have heard that Google has a pretty um like firm not Ivy League but a firm CS degree yeah like I would say there's there's definitely different tracks you can take in software engineering, that have different kind of price points that you're gonna hit in terms of salary. If you go entrepreneurial and you start and you basically learn enough so that you can start your own company, you'll probably you have the most risk of not getting paid, but the highest up the biggest out like upside if you do. So you start you make a startup you might you might succeed and you might get a huge investment and you might be able to pay out, you might not I mean a lot of that most startups fail, like it's just how the world works, but if you go in and you become like an employee,  and then the size of the company will kind of dictate how much you're gonna get paid, and some companies that make a lot more money, they tend to pay a lot more.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): Well I did remember when I was heading towards, and I have chosen. I worked at Disney for a long time which was like it wasn't hard enough, it was boring. And then I worked different startups, and now I'm in kind of a sweet spot with work-life balance. You know, like what I was mentioning earlier, working those long hours I don't do that now and you know I've gotten to a place where I'm not really chasing salary, but I'm having a lot of fun.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): As far as an industry, it’s an always in demand industry.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Yeah I think to that point, I think that we can all say we are constantly recruited by you know like we're not necessarily looking for jobs, but there's a constant influx of people trying to hire for what we do.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): And one of the questions I think that was gonna get asked was how important is networking and networking is incredibly important that I found in my that I've seen in this this this industry not all the jobs have gone through have been through networking but I definitely joined Charlie after NationBuilder, because I knew him right and and yeah.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I just had a thought and this is you know it just occurs to me that we have three white people, but how is the diversity at WeedMaps and Automatic?

 SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): The diversity of WeedMaps is awful. Great…

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I mean, on the software side.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): Same, same. For Automattic, I would say engineering. The company is very diverse, engineering is not. I mean I'm obviously a lady sitting up here with these two guys, I've always been the first woman hired onto a team I've joined, even at Automattic I think we have, I don't know somewhere between probably north like 300 engineers. I think probably there's six of us maybe that are female? Something like that. like the percentages on average I think for for women in the industry is below 5% usually on a team and even 5% is considered high.

 SPEAKER 9 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): What are you doing to up that?

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): What am I doing? Yeah, I mean I actually work with a lot of organizations. Girls Who Code is the one that I'm the biggest supporter of. I've taught classes for them, I speak for them. What I really look at it now as and this is one of the reasons I went to grad school too is I just didn't have the confidence going into a group of all men interviewing me or working with me I think until I had school. School was like my, it was what I could clutch to and it's what made me feel validated when I was starting out but um I really think it's a numbers game and I think with stem and all of these programs like Girls Who Code, and there's a few other ones I think it's great that they're going into schools and going in early. I think learning early, getting interested early, and also seeing that there's other people like you who are interested, is really important, but yeah. Girls Who Code, I would say, if you're a woman and you're interested, they're a really great organization. They have I think at least six or seven summer programs in LA as well, so you can check them out.

 SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Actually, the LA Public Library, we're getting Girls Who Code clubs happening, so that's great. So yes we have about three more minutes, does anyone… I know the hour went by really fast…Does anyone have any last questions comments? If any of you have any advice? Oh yes go ahead?

SPEAKER 10 (MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER): What do you suggest for those aren’t that strong in math, but are interested?

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I'm gonna take that one. My friend here asked, do we have any advice for people that are maybe not as strong as in math, mathematics, but are still interested in technology? I am NOT a math person, but I have a sort of a grip on how systems work. So for me, math hasn't been important enough until I start looking at macro behavior of systems, and how they deal with stress and load and things like that. So to answer your question, if you don't have an aptitude so much in math, focus on the communication side of it, and don't be intimidated because you don't have a strong interest in math. Learn anything, learn like the Python, JavaScript, Ruby, any of it. Just start which is hard, I know how hard it is to just get started.

SPEAKER 4 (LAUREN): There are a lot of online tutorials too, so if you like Google how to learn JavaScript, are at least a starting point.

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I would say that there's also aspects of programming that like, say the communication side, is definitely big, but there's also if you are visually inclined there's the like going through JavaScript and the design aspects and designing user experiences isn't as mathematically oriented. I think that understanding math and unlike being able you don't have to be great at it but being able to like understand that the basics is really important. S o I I think they're still placed there and I think you can make it very far without having a firm mathematical understanding like Charlie, [Laughter]… He's very proud of that! , [Laughter]… SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I think I failed pre-Algebra two or three times. I'm not endorsing that, but I had you know I've done okay without like Calculus or Trig, or it kind of, it was a little bit of a disadvantage when I was doing some game programming, but, since what I do and now is mostly like, business-to-business, like there's like we need to tell you know system A, system A needs to tell system B that we have… and we have a number of widgets. And then it's like okay, we did it. Yay!

SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): A lot of the math is actually pretty its algebraic most of it you don't you don't need like a firm Calculus understanding if you go into video games you should learn Linear Algebra. Unfortunately, it's almost a prerequisite if you're going to be doing 3D manipulations, even 2D. Matrix Transforms are really important there, but if you go into web programming, a lot of people don't need, for mathematical backgrounds. When you're designing a web page, like just being able to add or subtract is enough to like figure out the box model, and place things on a page correctly.

 SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I also want to say, learn BIM, if you can. We all spend all day, or a good portion of every day, editing text right? BIM is next iteration of VI which was, I'm not gonna get into the history of, BIM but it is, it's a way to edit text quickly, without you know, touching the mouse too often.

 SPEAKER 2 (KEVIN): I mean what he really means is, get comfortable at the command line.

SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): I mean that too…Yeah, yeah.

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): Well thank you all so much, thank you…oh.

 SPEAKER 5 (CHARLIE): One thing that I was thinking about before this event, I don't know what question I was anticipating, but having an appreciation for the history of computing, and you know like everybody's walking around, everybody has a computer in their pocket right now, but think about where this originated. In this you know 50s 60s 70s. And just to have an appreciation for what those pioneers were able to do with the resources at the time. You know one of the things I like about them, you know it does have this long history starting back in 73? I think? Well yeah, won’t get into it, but an appreciation for the history of whatever career you do end up getting into. Helps a lot.

SPEAKER 1 (LLYR): True! Well thank you so much for much for those excellent last words. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you to the audience for participating. If there's extra questions, maybe if you can hang around for a couple minutes afterwards. Let's give round of applause. [Applause]