59. Shani Banerjee (she/they) – Software Engineer, LUMA Institute

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“I think in the situations where I felt like I wasn’t able to grow, I’ve felt empowered to advocate for myself to get a different outcome, and then eventually move on to what I wanted to learn, which was becoming a dev.”

Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.

I usually start my day with a Medium article and my horoscope; it’s dorky but it kind of helps me get situated at looking at the day with a different perspective! I’ve been hopping between backend, UX, QA, and dev so it depends on the hat I’m wearing for the sprint. I check up on my open tickets and jump into my code base before stand up. After work is usually spent writing/performing music.

How do you stay passionate in your career?

I shifted from Support/Success into engineering, so it’s been a long, and strange journey to even get to where I am today. I enjoy solving problems and am finally not afraid to break things and I owe that a lot to mentors who taught me to just jump into things. Sometimes they just lead to a dead complaint in Stack Overflow from 2013.

Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?

Definitely not; I was one of the first surveys for a restaurant tech app while waiting tables in college. It still took three years after that for me to actually join the company as a member of the support team. I also taught out of school programs that supported career development strategies and training which I am eternally thankful for (here’s lookin’ at you Ani Martinez & Nina Barbuto <3)

Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?

Oh man, I was jumping into React with having to install a Ubuntu subsystem on Windows to match environments and was running into issues, so switching back to a Mac was merciful and getting the most out of VS Code and OhMyZsh versus living rogue in Sublime Text. Being able to go between enviros with VMware has been helpful for QA.

It’s common knowledge that women and femmes often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?

Very honestly, I have had really supportive mentors along the way; but I think in the situations where I felt like I wasn’t able to grow, I’ve felt empowered to advocate for myself to get a different outcome, and then eventually move on to what I wanted to learn, which was becoming a dev.

What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the #womenintech community?

I enjoy hearing other peoples’ crazy career switches and forays into tech. It’s always great to meet such smart and interesting people that set goals and accomplish them. Ultimately, I’d like to be an example of someone who wanted to make a change and pivoted to accept and overcome challenges in non-traditional education.

If applicable, how have you given back to the WIT community?

I have done a lot of out-of-school STEAM education for female-identified youth. I hope to translate this to adult educational opportunities for career switchers as well.

What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?

Ask so many questions, join code wars, mess up a pull request, resolve a merge conflict; definitely find a woman you trust that is in the industry and make sure you feel comfortable in your company culture. Write cold e-mails; go to talks, read and keep throwing spaghetti at the wall, eventually something sticks, but it takes time.

Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year. 

Honestly, it was a pretty innocuous moment; but, it was when I pushed my first branch successfully. It was really great after running into so many environmental issues and feeling pretty defeated to change something and have it be a working piece of what millions of users will be using.

Favorite quote:

If you play a wrong note once, it’s wrong. If you play it twice, it’s jazz.



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