An Environmentalist and a Programmer walk into a bar

Weird name for a blog, right? Allow me to explain.

I’m Kayla. A southern California native that recently moved to Denver and is about to experience her first winter. Wish me luck.

I’ll start by saying I think it’s safe to assume that whoever is reading this right now is pursuing at least their second degree, this time in Computer Science. While we all got to this place in strange, seemingly unique ways, I think it’s also safe to say we’re not so different at all. Allow me to share my story.

Part 1: What do you want to be when you grow up?

My first degree was in Environmental Science from the University of California Irvine. A far walk from the Computer Science lab.

Zot zot to any fellow anteaters

At the ripe age of 17 I decided I would be an Aerospace Engineer, because who doesn’t want to sound smart to all their friends? Fast forward a month or two and all of a sudden I’m hearing and reading about climate change, or at the time, global warming. I decided I wouldn’t contribute to the problem and would instead one day join the EPA as a lawyer, writing legislature to save the world from humans. It was all a great plan until I realized I hated politics and wanted nothing to do with law school.

Part 2: Selling my soul to corporate America

Freshly graduated, diploma in hand, and bright eyes set on the Peace Corps, I quickly accepted the first job offer that came my way. Fortunately for me, it was from Broadcom. A successful semiconductor company located across from campus that basically swallowed up UCI graduates whole. This would be my first step on the path to software since my job was writing business requirements for applications that my team owned.

Take that job title, throw in a dash of SQL training, a pinch of project management, and a sprinkle of layoffs, and I was quickly out the door and onto my next gig at SpaceX as an Application Product Manager.

Last day at Broadcom
My department at SpaceX on Polynesian shirt Friday

SpaceX is where my love for designing software solutions really took off (pun intended). I was surrounded by incredible engineers in a building where rockets were literally being built on the floor beneath me. Not to mention, so much frozen yogurt. In my time there engineers treated me as an equal because everyone was expected to be “technical” to some degree. Eventually, when I learned enough lingo to share my own ideas, I got to be part of solutioning. I no longer cared as much about who the software needed to please, I just wanted to know how does it work?

Part 3: you are here

My entire career I’ve been adjacent to developers making the magic happen. And I guess as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, right? Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to my end users and understanding how software can solve problems. I’ve just always loved the part where I get to sit down with the engineers and figure out how to make it work in the simplest way possible.

So with the advice of a former colleague who attended this program I spent 9 months dragging my feet and then finally applied. Now I’m in my final quarter here at OSU about to once again be freshly graduated, diploma in hand, with bright eyes set on the future.

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