Developer Insights

Deepen and Diversify the Tech Industry with Junior Engineers

How the tech community can better support Junior Engineers

Growing up as a little girl, I had yet to see the expressive potential of code, and instead studied music, languages, and visual art. But my brother – who recognized that I had already been introduced to many programming concepts through my study of music – encouraged me to give it a shot.


I found my first professional coding job at a small Portland-based network graph analysis start-up called Little Bird, where our team rebuilt the entire application in Clojure and ClojureScript (a JavaScript compiler).

Clojure is a functional programming language from the Lisp family with an elegant and minimalist syntax. The language does an excellent job of supporting features like concurrent programming, in which several computations execute at the same time. Clojure’s simplicity made more advanced functional programming concepts available to me in my first few years of coding.

I was asked to speak at the 2016 Clojure/west conference in Seattle about my experience of bridging the gap from self study to a career in the tech industry, and how my teammates helped me succeed during these challenging first few years.

In my talk, I discuss some of the barriers that newcomers face in their first software engineering jobs and ways in which the tech community, companies, and teams can better support junior engineers.

I could not have succeeded without the help of mentors who taught me how to break down complex problems into smaller pathways to understanding. My team taught me how to better articulate my questions and turn my frustrations into curiosity.

I eventually left Little Bird and started working at Jama in February. At Jama, I have the opportunity to work with Java and JavaScript, the languages that Clojure and ClojureScript are built upon. But it’s also the collaborative, reflective culture at Jama that brought me here, and I’m grateful to again work with teammates who are excited to build things and work together to solve the hard problems.