This week, I am interviewing Emma Wedekind. She's a software engineer at LogMeIn, an instructor at Egghead, and a panelist at JS Party. If you are active on Twitter, there's a high chance you have come across many popular dev tweets by Emma. Here's one of my favorites:
Every week, I invite a leading women developer to chat with me on various important topics. If you haven't been following this series of articles, start here.
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you start coding?
Emma: I am a UX Engineer at LogMeIn in Germany! I started as a classically trained Computer Scientist and spent the next three years working as a Software Engineer at IBM. I started out as a biology major but quickly discovered my love for engineering.
What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
Emma: Constantly having to prove myself has been an ongoing struggle. Everything I've always done in life, be it hobbies or career activities, has always been an uphill battle. While I have surrounded myself with many supportive people, there will always be those who doubt you and your credibility.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and coding? Pursue a career in tech?
Emma: We need to create a safe space to encourage mistakes and ask questions. If we're too afraid to make mistakes or ask questions, we can't possibly learn. Making mistakes is a vital part of the process.
Blogging is difficult, and staying committed to blog consistently is even difficult. What do you do to make this process easy? What advice do you have for developers who want to start their blog?
Emma: I have trouble staying consistent with blogging. And while consistency is a key ingredient for success, you'll burn out if you push yourself too hard. If you're not in the right mental space to blog, don't force yourself. Blog about things you enjoy, not the things you think will get views.
We love your work at Coding Coach. What motivated you to build it?
Emma: I had an extremely difficult time finding a mentor at IBM as the sole developer on a design team. Thus, I set out to create a platform that's inclusive for all people. We all deserve a mentor.
You recently joined JS Party Podcast. Please tell us a bit about it.
Emma: JSParty is a fun podcast where we get together each Thursday and talk about development. Sometimes we bring on interesting guests. Other times we discuss things happening in the tech industry. We change it up each week and even have a live Slack discussion. I highly recommend everyone check it out!
You worked for IBM for a short period (Oct 2017 to Feb 2018). How was your experience working for an MNC?
Emma: I actually worked at IBM from July 2015 - February 2018, so nearly 3 years. It was a struggle not to get lost in the company as it was so large. But working for a large company often has its benefits, like the ability to work with some brilliant people all across the world.
What advice do you have for beginner developers who are aspiring to join big companies like IBM and Google?
Emma: Don't set your expectations too high. Large companies with a big reputation still have issues, just like smaller companies. It's important, and often more difficult, to differentiate yourself in these companies, so look for ways to get involved.
What are your favorite programming tools? 📦
Emma: I have been really loving Storybook lately as a way to document our React component library. It's super intuitive.
Why do you think bias towards women is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?
Emma: People have unconscious bias and being conscientious of the fact that these biases exist, and trying to overcome them, makes a huge difference.
Thanks a lot for answering my questions, Emma. Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Emma: Find a mentor, and don't get discouraged. It takes time to feel comfortable. You'll get there.
Did you find Emma's advice useful? Write down your thoughts in the comments section below.