To say we’re obsessed with Zoe would be an understatement. As QuotaPath’s inaugural intern, she has set a high bar in terms of quality of work, being a cultural influence, and her eagerness and willingness to learn. She also rocks an all monochrome outfit and light pink hair better than most. We got to sit down with her to talk about her experience at QuotaPath and how it’s helped shape her attitude towards the next step in her life and career.
Tell me about your journey to QuotaPath.
I‘m a Game Design and Production student at Drexel and we have a co-op program. The school mandates that we work somewhere for six months in order to get our degree. We’re helped to a certain extent, but placement isn’t guaranteed. After doing my own external searches and by the third round, I decided I was going to use the system because there was still a lot of interviews that I hadn’t gotten answers back on, and I was like, “I should find something quick” as well. I ended up applying to QuotaPath because the job description was super cool and mentioned a lot of mentorship, which sounded amazing. And you encouraged other hobbies outside of work as well. Work-life balance is very important to me, especially after being in classes for a year and a half straight with only a short break of two weeks.
Once I did the interviews, I talked to Darby (in charge of recruiting) and Eric (Technical Co-Founder). I really enjoyed talking to them and they seemed very likable and personable. Eric was also just very open with me. I’m very honest in my interview questions, whether they’re right or not, and he seemed to still appreciate them. He asked me if I knew Python because I did the coding challenge in Python. I just said that I used it in my sophomore year of high school and that I haven’t used it since until this code challenge, but I’ll figure it out. And he was totally down for it, which was pretty awesome.
And so I got the offer call. I was still waiting on another offer, but as soon as I said I was going to wait until Monday, I regretted it, and I was like, “I should’ve just taken it.” And so Monday I called back and I was like, “I’m going to accept it.” And I’m pretty riled that I got the other job offer the day after.
What’s your favorite part about the culture at QuotaPath?
One thing I want to say about the culture to start it off is that I love coming to work. I’ve worked from home on days when I don’t feel well, I’m sick or whatever, and it’s not the same. It’s so much better being around everyone, being able to communicate. It’s fun because I feel like even at work, we have a good life-work balance somehow. We all work really hard, but every once in a while we make jokes and there are little office conversations for like five minutes. And then we’re like, okay heads back down. Like making the alignment chart on the whiteboard about all the coworkers one day, that was really fun.
I enjoy that everyone’s really approachable. Since day one, I was able to ask people questions and no one ever treated me like a stereotypical intern. No one was ever like, “Wow, that’s a dumb question.” Or, “Go get me coffee.” You guys were like, “Hey come with us to this potential new office tour,” the very first week I was here. And I got invited to the company events like Quizzo and all kinds of really fun stuff. I was able to host my house warming party with everyone last weekend, which was really exciting, too. Everyone is very accessible, and sure there’s an age gap, but no one ever makes it awkward or anything. You’re just like, “You’re a coworker.”
Explain your role at QuotaPath. How does your skill set fit onto the engineering team?
In my first interview with Eric when he asked me what my goals were, I said I want to create art through code, which is very true. And our product is very front end driven. We have a whole bunch of front end engineers–the front end engineers definitely outweigh the back end ones right now. And we pay a lot of attention to the details of the visuals over-site, which is something I very much enjoy. We’re very open to changes as long as they make sense, which is also something really awesome. I love being able to go up to Ralph (Head of Design) and be like, “Hey, why aren’t we doing this instead?” And being able to make smaller changes. That’s something that’s really awesome.
I feel like the engineers and designers aren’t just working in boxes. There’s a lot of collaboration between all of us, which I think definitely plays into my background. As a game design major, I went through a lot of user interface design classes and art classes and design in general, so that’s a lot more my background with my computer science minor. Being able to combine those, it’s just something I’ve always wanted no matter where or what I’m doing, and I’ve definitely found that here. I’ve been able to be ambitious as well. I could say, “Hey, I really want to work on the back end and figure this out.” And I was given the opportunity to, which was pretty rare for interns and it’s pretty amazing.
What excites you most about the work QuotaPath is doing?
I think one of the things, especially from talking with Ralph (Head of Design), that excites me is just the accessibility we’re aiming for. We’re really working hard on our user experience and I think that it definitely shows. Even when we’re working on MVP and on certain new features, it’s always the absolute cleanest. I know that down the road we’re trying to be so accessible and usable for everyone that needs it or wants it. And that’s definitely something that’s really, really cool to me because we’re constantly improving. We’re definitely iterating. And that’s something I’ve discovered I love about product engineering–is that this is something we own and we can constantly fix. It’s never done. And that’s something that I really enjoy.
What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned so far at QuotaPath?
That’s really hard. I have learned so much in my time here. So much. I came in, I didn’t know anything at all about TypeScript or React, which is what our front end is in, and now I work just like everyone else here. I get assigned just as much work, which is pretty wild when you think about it. I’ve obviously learned just coding and technical skills in general, and that has been extremely amazing. Our pull request process here is really amazing. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from people and everyone pushes me. No one has just told me, “Oh your work is great,” when it’s not. Everyone’s like, “This is amazing, but here are some flaws as well,” which is very valuable. I appreciate everyone’s honesty in that sense.
I’ve just learned, a lot about myself as well in my time here. It’s definitely helped my self-confidence a lot in order to be part of this team, especially in the beginning. I love having seen certain new standards and traditions grow with the company because I came two weeks after MC (Director of Product) and seeing our product management and workflow process take shape over the past few months has been really amazing. It’s been really cool to see the process of how a startup gets to a big scale company and where some of those traditions come from. That’s been something that’s really cool to me.
Has your experience at QuotaPath helped prepare you for beginning your career?
Yes. So I’m attending college full time technically. I’m taking 12 credits this term, which isn’t a lot thankfully, and I’m working 20 and a half hours a week, which is on the higher of a part-time for sure. It’s been an honor to be able to stay part-time. That was something I asked relatively early on in order to sign a lease for an apartment.
And it’s super cool because not many people at 20 rent their apartment and have only their name on it, which is something I’ve definitely not taken for granted. I think that’s been incredible. It really makes me emotional sometimes to think about it. It definitely has prepared me. When I first came here, I thought I would like it, but wasn’t entirely sure what it entailed. I love this more than I thought I would at the beginning. I really do find a lot of joy in the work I’m doing. Sure, a lot of people might say, “Oh it’s so business and business can be boring,” but I don’t feel that way anymore at all.
I used to say I’d never want to work in business at all. I love this. I love having a living, breathing product, seeing the strategy that goes into it and being in a startup environment especially. I definitely would feel prepared if I went somewhere else in the future to have a lot of that insight. It’s really cool being part of a small team.
If you could give advice to others looking to start their career as a software engineer, what would it be?
So obviously you need a certain amount of knowledge in order to get in the door, but I’m actually going to say it’s less about what you know and more about what you can learn. I think being able to learn is a huge part of the job. I asked to do back end work and I asked for a little bit of help in the beginning, which is definitely important, but then I just put my head down and read so much documentation, figured it out as much as I could and then asked for feedback. I really think that’s been a valuable way to learn it.
I think if I had come in knowing a lot and not being able to learn, I might’ve been able to code well, but it wouldn’t have been up to par with what we do. I think adaptability is a huge part of it and having a good attitude about it. Not getting frustrated when you don’t know something and just being like this is a challenge, you to approach everything with like “I will find the solution to this challenge,” not, “I have no idea what to do. This is awful.”
So I would definitely say having a good attitude, being able to learn and being eager to learn are probably the biggest things.