Software Developers Journey Podcast

#164 Sandra Ahlgrimm pushed the boundaries


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Sandra Alghrimm 0:00
It's always weird if folks firing you just don't take it personally.

Tim Bourguignon 0:11
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host team building your own this episode 164, I receive Sundar ngultrum. Samurai comes from the startup world and currently works for Microsoft as a Cloud Developer Advocate focusing on Java. She organizes the Berlin Docker meetup and helps in the Docker and Kubernetes. Community, wherever and whenever she can. Sandra. Welcome, deftly.

Sandra Alghrimm 0:45
Hi, Tim. It's great to be here.

Tim Bourguignon 0:48
But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up, if you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest. So let's wander. As you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as always on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your dentistry.

Sandra Alghrimm 1:39
So I would place this very early when I was a kid. I got this small learning PC from VTech. And you can do like some learning posits and you learn how to read and write and also some mathematics examples. And there was the possibility to program yourself some games and I had an assistant She's five years younger than me. And don't ask me which language it was. I think it's kind of the the games we have now for kids to learn programming. So I don't know if it's a real language. It was kind of like Delphi, I would say but yeah, no matter. And she is like five years younger than me. Sure. So she was like three years old during that time. So I was eight at this time. And so I did some games just for her, which were more easy like a champion one or just to press arrows that is not so complicated. And when she wasn't able to press the arrows, I also enlarged it a bit. So instead of just using W A SD also using two, three, as a w. So it was like, very easy, but kind of a starting point, not to get in fear for computers.

Tim Bourguignon 2:50
Did you get in there on your own? Did somebody show you that?

Sandra Alghrimm 2:55
No, I just had time. And then it was the so bad, like the end of the 90s. And then my mother got an A computer because she's a teacher and writing all the certificates for the students is much more easy with the computer. So she had one and it was in my room because we didn't have anywhere as enough space for it. And obviously, I was on it too much. And too often because I had those little games and whatever. And my dad said no, you can't have it. So often you should sleep and not play. So he tries to lock it for me. And he started like very simple, just hiding the icons and photos. And I figured that out very quickly. And then it was more intense like securing it with passwords. So I kind of had to guess and first one went easy. So I just did it with times. Then I made list. And then I we had a library nearby so I had to go to library because it was you know before the internet why? And I had no one nowhere else to go. So I also went to the library find out that you can do some scripts, which can do it then for you. And I also gave it some like words like the names of my parents, their birthdays, and then you know, put this together for me

Tim Bourguignon 4:14
permutate Yeah,

Sandra Alghrimm 4:17
that was fun.

Tim Bourguignon 4:18
Obviously, you became a penetration hacker grew up in the hacking scene.

Sandra Alghrimm 4:27
But just by accident and just and also I didn't want my parents to find out because obviously then they would do like other tricks to you know, at the end they just throw the cables for me and they didn't have enough money to plug it in and without energy. It's not working. So they know how to do it but I think in the meantime, I fear like being a parent now myself then you so and they just let me do it and then enjoy my gaming because yeah, I owned it or Yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 4:59
yeah Have you managed to jump through the hoops and really unlock it? So you deserve? You deserve your treat? Yeah. What attracted you so much to this computer?

Sandra Alghrimm 5:10
No. I mean, the game was this the Explorer, it was quite so it's like, we have this light on the end, and the boy was just like, bouncing around and bouncing and destroying something. Yeah, the bricks. And I don't think I was playing that much. I only realized that I spent a lot of time just to make it work again. I just had an issue with boundaries,

Tim Bourguignon 5:39
spending three hours on cracking the password, and then

Sandra Alghrimm 5:43
it was much longer. It was. It was it was time, you know, I was nine years old, I also had other things to do like going to school and meeting friends. But then in the evenings, or also nights, or weekends, or rainy days, that was fun. And then I had to just normal schoolwork during my exams. And then I wanted to study something I also had, during my past three years, or the last three years, I also had computer science as a as one major target. Yeah, in high school, I think that's what it is in English. And this one was the only one way succeeded with 100%. And then that's an awesome feeling, you know, like, no errors, everything's working. That was cool. But I didn't want it to do this, like professionally, I thought I would go to the police or something, you know, having issues with boundaries, I maybe I thought it would help me like setting it, or at least enforcing the others to respect them. But at the same, you know, I I was I went through the interviews to became a police officer. But I just they didn't took me like in the ranking. I wasn't high enough. I think at this year, they only took very little. So I let that amount of people and I wasn't in. And then I was like, Okay, I'm living in Berlin. So obviously, I need to do something with media, so and commercials maybe. So I started this process, where you need to do like working at a company, usually for free, because you don't have any experience and learning graphic design and doing those things. That was great as well. And then my parents complained that I'm working for free, and I'm not moving forward with my professional career and their opinion. So I found out that I could study media and computer science. And I thought like, hey, there's media already in computer science, I have everything I need because of i because of the major in high school. So that should work at least for six months. And I then then I might switch to media. So there was a plan here. And so I started studying this one. Computer science was very simple, very easy. So I just did that. Like, besides, I also had a lot of free time. Because it was like not not an issue for me. The whole programming stuff. The media's thing was a bit weird, because we had teachers or professors, you know, it comes it's very opinionated, is like, yeah, everything is fine. But you know, just personally, I don't like it. So you don't get 100%. And I was like why? Yeah. So I know the feeling. Yes. So that was weird. So whenever I had a choice which direction I want to go, is it more media or my other computer science courses, I always took the computer science ones. So at the end, I had like almost no media and just computer science, also the shifting one. I did everything I needed to apply for the media studies. But at the end I had, you know, it wasn't fun any longer. I was photographing a lot. I was drawing all the time. But then it was like, you know, just enough. It was like my main hobby during school the whole time. But then when I had to do it, like every day, like eight hours, it was just I don't know too much. And I haven't really gotten back into drawing and photographing since then. But I bought a camera like this year. So maybe I could. And I also plan to go back on track a bit because now as I'm doing more videos, I also thought I could use it for the videos as well. Maybe I would go back. It's now 12 years ago. Maybe it's time to go back.

Tim Bourguignon 9:26
Still there somewhere. Okay, so you are going more and more to work computer science. Yeah, out of Troy

Sandra Alghrimm 9:33
University. And just to be clear in the third semester, so after one year, it's, I think it's kind of the very how they grasp. They grab people. So the first two semesters ran to heart. But then in the third one, we had security, distributed systems and also computer graphics. So programming in C++, some real time games, that was really hard. So I also had to do that Take extra classes to pass and tune to make it work. So it wasn't always easy. But since I've already, you know, gave them a year was like, Okay, now it's too late to ended, I need to go through this. And then I had this moment after one and a half years when I was sitting in, in the security classes, and together with the distributed systems, and you know, finally everything made sense. I was like, ah, and that's how it comes all together. And that was so cool. As they realize how I was, like, you know, smiling all over my face.

Tim Bourguignon 10:33
Did you remember what what maybe, maybe click, and it was just this feeling,

Sandra Alghrimm 10:36
you know, and then it was 9pm because it was late, like course, this one. So I was the only one sitting there smiling all over my face. Everyone else was kind of almost sleeping. And so also the professor realized, and he was like, I was going on, and I was like, you know, that makes sense now and the other one, and he was like, Oh, somebody's listening. You kind of celebrate with me. He celebrates with me.

Tim Bourguignon 11:03
Did you have this experience? I know that time as well.

Sandra Alghrimm 11:08
Yeah, after this is happening more and more more often. That you know, you had your your courses. One was for algorithms. So he was just supposed to do algorithms. The other one you you program, maybe a tiny web app in Java and JavaScript and front end, so everything was like very siloed. But then, when everything comes together, that's cool. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 11:32
I'm I'm almost 20 years out of them off off university now. And I still have sometimes this this realization. Oh, that's what they meant back then. Okay.

Sandra Alghrimm 11:45
So, but they mended University.

Tim Bourguignon 11:48
Yes, it was. So I studied in France, it was very theoretical. So a lot of maths or physics. And when I went to do the computer science, right, and that was a lot of architectural theory of system theory, etc. And so back then we're winning why, but but now it makes sense. 20 years later, I guess,

Sandra Alghrimm 12:08
totally. And then also have a lot for my career that I was totally broke at university. So my parents bought a house. And I do have like three sisters and brothers. So they can just pay me everything. And because they're still earning too much, I also couldn't get too much money from the state. So I had to work. First, I had to work as a bartender because I couldn't get a job. As a programmer, it was like 2008. Without nine Mary had those issue in our economics. So yeah, there was a bit weird. And after I finally got my first professional job, as a working student programming, also more things made sense, because then you can see how it really gets into production and why we are learning this and why it's so serious. And yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 12:58
how did you get this first? This first real experience, as you say, do you remember how the process looks like what you didn't know and discover during the interview process maybe and, and your expectations and how it started and how that looks like?

Sandra Alghrimm 13:11
So it was really tough for me to get the first one. So I just started applying because I wasn't, I worked as a bartender already in high school. So I was fine doing cocktails and so on. There was fun as well, but doesn't have you professionally wise. So I really wanted to work as a software engineer, even though I didn't had experience before, you know, sometimes you got to start. And the interviews I had before were also some of them were like, very insulting, and I didn't expect it that because I never experienced that before my life because my parents were, as I said, I have also two brothers and they are so I felt I was raised equally, so I never thought I someone would think that I couldn't do something because I'm a woman. I never thought of us so it was just weird. But then yeah, I had interviews where I got like as trice how, you know, I was nervous. And then he was like, Yeah, but if you're so nervous, how could you answer the phone? And I was like, am I supposed to answer the phone you know, as a programmer and software engineer in breaking student should I answer the phone and he was like, Oh, so you're not here for the team assistants job and I'm no I'm not here for the assistant. Thank you. And you did that tries in 30 minutes, you know and speaking off now just stand up and go it's not worth the time. Really just then have a go. I stayed I was too young to unexperienced but just didn't even go it's not worth it. And I finally got the first job through my university. That's also one of the coolest things studying computer science. When you learn program you already do like real projects, real programs, real products. So you can already work with companies and a fear that a lot of universities too already worked with companies. So if you're deciding where you want to study, you probably should check out if they have like partners, also in the economics, so we also partnered with some and then we could decide which company we want to work for. And it was like a win win situation, because we work for them for free. And they offered us with a lot of insights from them, professional world, not just University. And after that they offered, I think, almost everyone in the team a job, and

Tim Bourguignon 15:32
okay, how was your projection on power, this first job would be versus the reality, how you imagined it to be and how it came out to be,

Sandra Alghrimm 15:41
I thought, like you said, I think it was in the beginning, like, who was junior and chose senior that for junior you expect them to, like, kind of hold their hands and that you will talk like very completely about what they're going to do how they want to do it, and then discuss it beforehand, then let them do it. Or maybe do it like pair programming advice, and then discuss afterwards. So I kind of expected to be like this, instead of I said, alone in front of my computer. And they were like, so that's a task shouldn't be too hard. Oh, no. And I mean, the cool thing is you have internet so you can search. And also you need to have the courage to ask your colleagues, you know, you shouldn't always expect them to come to you. But as I said, I was like, younger this time, so 10 years younger, didn't had enough. Yeah, maybe self esteem, I don't know. So it took me a while, but they gave me the time. So that's cool as well. And I also, maybe I came up with a better solution than they would have, because of the doing it all by myself thing. And then I think, six months after I started at Zanox, we organized everything. They went Euro waterfall principles to an AGI world, and also mix teams a bit. And then I had other colleagues and there, and one of them was like much more helpful. And, you know, he was like very senior, and then took me a bit by the hand and then told me what to do. I'm really happy that we're still friends and connected. We also worked in different startups, or at least in one startup together then so that was fun.

Tim Bourguignon 17:18
Do you remember how he guided you? Oh, II treaded this this, this difficult line between giving answers and giving guidance and not too much answer and etc.

Sandra Alghrimm 17:30
Yeah, he was very smart. He invited me to their lunch soccer. So I was finally able to go with others to lunch. And we didn't went as a team to lunch, it was more from other teams, colleagues. So it was a bit mixed. And then we were like four to six people, sometimes just three. And then we talked about, you know, our work in another atmosphere. So during lunch, we had to wait for our food, so I could ask questions in this time. And then he was like, awkward when we come back. I can just help you with this. Oh, he was like, Have you thought about this one. So I feel that it was really helpful that it was more in a relaxed atmosphere. And he has time anyhow, in because I really struggled asking questions, because I know that the time I need to ask questions, the folks or my colleagues couldn't work on their own issues on their own things they have to do. So I always felt I would steer their time. And I was overthinking too much about that. So I really hope that he moved it to this more relaxed atmosphere at lunchtime.

Tim Bourguignon 18:32
Did you get over this feeling of having the feeling of stealing all this time? When you ask question?

Sandra Alghrimm 18:38
Yeah, I think Yeah. Also, during that time, I worked at the next one, like three years, can check my LinkedIn for this? And yeah, but I think it should be I want three years. And rocking with them. I got over it. He was also telling me like, you can search and you should search for your own at first. Obviously, it's it's stressful. If someone is asking you questions, and you're like, yes, just Google it. And after one seconds, you will get the answer. So don't ask those questions, you can always google yourself. But if you're Googling or searching with Bing, or whatever search engine you want to use, and after like 30 minutes, you're still not sure what to do. Or you have like different solutions you could use, but you're not very sure which one you should use. And it would take you like two hours to try it out. Maybe you should just speak to one for like five or 10 minutes and then it will save you a lot of time and then it will save the company time. Also, the other one might have some other insights. So always be careful which time you're using and also your time is valuable. Amen to that.

Tim Bourguignon 19:41
But it's always hard. It's always hard to to say okay, now is enough. I've done enough. I don't have the right keywords. Or maybe I'm searching wrong. I have it wrong in my mind. I just cannot find what I'm searching for. I need to speak to someone and maybe it will be answered in two seconds but I search already long enough so I need to To go out of my shell, and this is always hard,

Sandra Alghrimm 20:02
I really timebox it to 30 minutes. And now sometimes I only 10 bucks to 20 minutes because I feel after some experience in searching on the internet, I should be able to find it inside 20 minutes. I don't know, what about you? How much time do you try it on your own? Do you say okay, I'm better?

Tim Bourguignon 20:21
I would say I would say also something like 30 minutes. But I still have I have to do it for myself. I still have to write it down. Write the question down. I've observed so so many times, for instance, on Stack Overflow when I was on Stack Overflow, quite often back then writing good questions, gets your question answered. And so I really made a point in writing good questions. And half of the time I found that the answer while trying to tell it to somebody else. And so I always like to do this. But maybe I'm spending too long on that. And it could be asking faster, but I have to do so myself. Stay with us.

Tim Bourguignon 20:59
We'll be right back. Hello imposters. If you work in tech want to work in tech or are tech curious in any way you'll want to listen to this. We've launched a community of professionals who come together to share information and advice about jobs, roles, careers, and the journeys we all take throughout our lives as the designers, builders, fixers investigators, explainers and protectors of the world's technology. We call it the impostor syndrome network. And all are welcome. So find the imposter syndrome network podcast wherever you listen to find podcasts, and look for the isn community on your favorite social platform. Hashtag impostor network.

Sandra Alghrimm 21:43
Yeah, probably everyone needs to find out how to do this. And after this first job, it was very easy to get others. And also, as I said, I was very broke. So I also spend a lot of time on meetups, because on meetups, you get free food. Or you get free knowledge and free networking, which is also very cool. And you get a lot of insights. And also I loved going on hackathons. It also helped me a lot to do my university projects. So I always try to find a hackathon, which would relate to one of my causes or projects I need to do anyhow, for university. So why not give it a try and go with the whole team, because we had to do like almost everything in teams at university, which is great, because it's kind of it will be afterwards as well. So on the professional side, so I encourage everyone to go on hackathons. And sometimes we want. I mean, most of the time we didn't, but you only talk about the one your one. So that was very cool.

Tim Bourguignon 22:46
Did you remember one of these projects? You you want it?

Sandra Alghrimm 22:49
Yeah, so one of the main one was the university hackathon. So it was with unity. Yeah. Yeah, the game engine and I needed this for my video for university, we needed to program a game. And so it was totally useful for us to just do it there. And my team members, my colleagues at university were like, Yeah, but that's then very early, you know, usually we do like, I'm not gonna lie about this. So usually, we did it like the night before we had to

Tim Bourguignon 23:22
do or did.

Sandra Alghrimm 23:24
And this one was like, three months in advance, but I was like, Yeah, but why not. And we're gonna get like free food, free drinks, we probably meet enough or other folks. And also, maybe we get even help there. So why not give it a try. So we did it, we also won. And after that, I was offered to become a Microsoft student partner. So I was thinking about this, as a Microsoft student partner, you had to do hackathons yourself, and also give presentations and give back all the learnings you get. So I also gave that a try and was also very helpful. Because you will realize if you understand something correctly, if you're trying to teach us to someone else, Oh, yeah. And that's also that also fit perfectly with the meetups. Because after hearing some talks again, and again, and again, especially the ones about AGI and moving from SVN to Git, or how Git works. I did some sessions about Git at this time. And I was very unique at this time, but you you always have something you might have more experience than others already in the early caregivers. So you probably have the same so give it a try, go to a meet up and speak there. That's usually very heavy and are now as we are all some of us are still at home all the time, not going outside too much because of the pandemic. We can also just put it on YouTube. Always folks who are interested

Tim Bourguignon 24:50
at this. You have to be diligent about I'm not an expert, but I invested I don't know 50 100 hours in this thing, if I can condense it into 20 minutes. Talk Hey, you want 100 hours? minutes? 20 minutes that's that's something and and ensued always a nice discussions, you just have to set the expectations right?

Sandra Alghrimm 25:10
And don't worry Do you don't need to have like 20,000 hours for this? No usually like if you already spend three days and then you come up with the solution and then put it in 30 minutes that's already had four?

Tim Bourguignon 25:22
It is indeed it is indeed how well your next company is after that. So you said very facile. Well, the next company was easy to to get into where they were they always so easy compared to the first one.

Sandra Alghrimm 25:31
Yeah, I was saying they were easy. I mean, sometimes I'm very quickly, the expectations were different, like, I left Xanax just because of the money. So after I graduated, and I got my bachelor's, I wanted to have like a certain amount of money like proper salary. I didn't got it. It was very frustrating with my former manager. And I was also very surprised when the HR colleague told me that bats and rats normal woman always got 30% less. I was like,

Tim Bourguignon 26:07
Okay, get up and leave. Like you said before.

Sandra Alghrimm 26:12
Yeah. And then from hackathons, I already had friends working in startups, and they were like, you know, for us, everyone will get paid equally, but you need to deliver as well. And working and startup. Oh, that was stressful. It was I mean, a lot of folks have this issue in your early 20s. Like work is the most important, Korea's most important, like, workaholic working all day. And then we also had to do new releases always during the night because we did ordering system. Yeah, where the bids come out this one, like Autobot. But for enterprises, or like shops, shops, yeah, you can buy T shirts, and so on, for instance. So and our release always took us like one and a half hours, at least because we had three stages. And each stage go through would take us 30 minutes, because everyone was everything was in piden. And there was not the main issue, the main issue was that they had, like almost only integration tests, which are fine, because they usually cover everything, but they also take the most time. And so we set that until like 3am, to put out the new release. And after that, our boss was sending like pizza, like at midnight, but then he was like, Okay, see you tomorrow at 10. So the usual time and we always arrive and I was like, okay, that's weird, some kind I want to sleep or exercise or do something else than just working. And also I was hired, they told me they want to, you know, they had the prototype in the beginning. And then it worked. So they got founding, and then they added features. And at some point, they wanted to do the redo the whole thing like, properly. And they hired me to redo the thing properly with others. But they never do it. So there was like that so much pressure from the sponsors and founders were like, Yeah, but we need to have the next features. And took so much time because we do we did have a lot of backs. So probably it all comes back to the not having proper tests because of this one integration tests thing. So I was like, so we're not going to redo it. And they were like, No, not yet. And I was like, Yeah, I'm not sure how that's gonna work for me. There was Friday, and then Monday, they, they fired me. But that was fine, because I also applied on Friday at another company. Yes, on Tuesday, so it was like that was fine.

Tim Bourguignon 28:36
There's still still some stressful, stressful time, I guess.

Sandra Alghrimm 28:39
It's always really folks firing, you just don't take it personally say thank you, because they also gave me 14 days fully paid off. So that's always great extra vacation days, extra holidays. So that's boom. And then I went back to access spring us. This time, it was made in 24. So the newspaper side and the news channel. And there it was great. So first, I and I also switch back to working students only work there part time, not full time, like in the startup, because I still wanted to do my masters. I don't know why I wanted to do my masters. To be honest, I think the metres would have been enough to be like, and my career where I am now. But it was usually the probably the stress for my parents. Because they were like before that we had diploma in Germany and Masters is the equal one. And they were like, better nurses like nothing. So they want to see the masters. And I and also the Masters is just a little bit of theory. And you already know that if you stay in the same subject, and I stayed in computer science, so that was easy. And then the rest was just project. So I tried to use again to reuse the stuff I need to do for work or for hackathons and then do this for university. So Just took me a bit longer to do my master because I had to wait until the projects would align with my rockstar. I mean, in the end, it worked out. And I was also more motivated than to do the projects because we use them already. And that was

Tim Bourguignon 30:17
just a question in between, was it a choice going back to Ireland to access and to be back in the in this media world, you had some some Media and Design,

Sandra Alghrimm 30:27
I just wanted to go back into a bigger company again, okay. And you have this folks watching if you're working hours are correct, as far as like very stressful, working all the time, like 80 hours a week or something. And I also didn't have time to, for me to apps really, because I was working too much. So I couldn't go to the meetups. So I also miss my friends there. And

Tim Bourguignon 30:49
with the clock ticking, can you take us slowly toward Microsoft, and how you ended up there? I mean, you may you mentioned you were shooting partner, but how did you decide and going toward, toward field engineering, and then Cloud advocacy, how this all came to be

Sandra Alghrimm 31:02
afterward and 24. I left by the way, because they also had a bit of toxic environment for women. So they always said like, Hi boys. And I was just saying hi. And then they were talking neck behind my back. I just you know, realizing, I don't mean, I don't mean her and I was like okay, that was weird. And then the I quit and the leader of engineering, he told me like, why not talking to just say any name, Sasha. And I was like, Why should I talk to Sasha? And he was like, yeah, that's your manager. And I was, He's my manager for how long for six months. And I was like, shouldn't he have told me? I didn't knew that the whole time. And so there was very weird. And then the first senior who took me at my first job, he missed a meeting like regularly, like, I would say more than like three times a year we meet like for lunch, just occasionally talk about work, how it is, how it, how it's going. And he told me that he has a nice offer from another startup. And I should come with him. So that was like the best honor because at that they the seniors, they were like very mean, and they didn't want to answer my questions. They're always answering my questions with other questions, which were like, have you Googled enough? So I took like three hours before I asked the question. So there was a bit weird. But then he asked me if I should, if I want to come with him to the startups so and they are totally in profits. So they don't have any founders or sponsors. They don't need that. They just have too much money. And now they want to also digitalize to not miss this opportunity as well. So they are totally backed with money. I was like, Yeah, that sounds good. I will give it a try. That was fun. The most as especially the first six months, you know, Greengrass, you can do everything that was so much fun. microservices, we used containers, this us, that was so cool. mezzos I learned to not programmed the Android app also been to the warehouse racking there, then doing the UI your ex for the application doing everything that was so cool. I worked a lot I programmed the whole day, I almost forgot how to speak like fluently, and in like real sentences, because I was, you know, programming all the time. So I also told my husband to initialize buying lists, and he was like, What should I do? He's not in software engineering. So that was fun. Then my friend left because he had some issues with our manager, there was said, and then we were only like, four, three, or up to five people. And if one of them is leaving, and it really changes everything, like how it is every day at work. And then Microsoft, they were like, coming back to me again. And again. First of all, it's just the recruiter that it was which Bucha inside Microsoft asking me I was ignoring. And then it was like a friend of one of the student partners was already at Microsoft in field engineering. And he was like, come on, Senator, I, I really invite you to lunch. And I was like, oh, cool, free lunch.

Sandra Alghrimm 34:10
And then he told me that I should give it a try and just try the interview process. They would be lucky to have me and I was like, Okay, I'm not sure what you're talking about. Because I'm not into any Microsoft products. I'm using a Mac every day in the startup, they couldn't pay the mix. So they gave me in the novel. And I had like windows for I think two months. And then I was like, Okay, that's enough for fun. Now to be productive. So I switch to Ubuntu, but I can do it again having my German and working so it was a bit surprised. But okay, why not give it a try. So I applied, he suggested me for this position, but you still need to go to the interview process. And then I had my interviews like a phone interview. And they were also asking me like, which OS do you use? And I told them exactly the same thing. And I also told him like, but At home, I do have a Windows 10. You know, for gaming next?

Tim Bourguignon 35:04
Yeah, it

Sandra Alghrimm 35:05
took me a time to really toggle, it takes me some time to switch off all the metrics they're collecting, because I didn't want it to have this. So, yeah, at the end, they were like, okay, but we need, we want to have more focus for Linux technologies and containers. So that's the offer we are giving you. And there was also an interesting, my last interview was with the manager in Cologne, like face to face. And he asked me what I want to have like as a salary. And I told him my number, and I saw on the reaction that it was too low. So I just added it, you know, I'm a woman. So I expect more, you know, because women tend to say, not enough. So whenever you have this feeling, you can stay saying you expect more, and at least I got a little bit more, like 10k, more so

Tim Bourguignon 36:00
more than a little bit. That's that I applied a couple times for Microsoft as well. And the one tip I got was, don't, don't mention number, whatever you can imagine, it's going to be higher. Well, I never came to that point at that point. But the the the interview process was interesting in itself.

Sandra Alghrimm 36:23
And I don't know if I would have ended up at Microsoft, if I would have wanted to end up at Microsoft. And I never thought about this. It also was the reaction from my former colleagues was like what Microsoft you. And I was like, Yeah, you know, they, they use whatever works best. And I'm gonna try and try it and find it out. And then working at the field, I was giving workshops for containers and Kubernetes at multiple customers. Usually, I was at each customer like one to three days. So sometimes almost every time to customers every week. And there were like, everywhere in Germany. And I was very exhausted after almost one year. And also, first time, it's fun to travel. And I didn't have a family. So it was just great. I didn't have anything bad for the kids. But my flatmates fifth time at this time, there was great, but you know, like that first time desert off or feels was just, and I'm coming from Berlin. So you know, I'm kind of used to having like other clubs or paths. And it's not the case everywhere in Germany, especially not at, you know, what the landscapes and smaller cities. And also, I didn't have time for the meetups, because I was like at first again. So I was like, a bit depressed, they couldn't do my meetups any longer. And then I wanted to go to cube con, and ask my manager, and he was like, if you don't have any customers, or you want to meet customers there, and it was a bit tricky for me to get in there. In the end, I asked because we were sponsoring and then I asked like the people who are like in charge from the sponsoring how I can help them or if I can help them then get you know that they pay me for the trip, or at least pay the trip. And give me the time off, or the manager gave me the time off, but somebody would have to pay for the flights. And they're like, Yeah, you know, we do have diversity tickets apply for this one. So I went this road and gave me this taken sort of it's fair, but it was like at the very end of the like two weeks in advance. So like very short time ahead. I added that, say didn't stole it from anyone. Also, they didn't use all of it. So I think it should be fine. So my advice here is just use it. If you have an opportunity in someone else don't have just take it.

Tim Bourguignon 38:51
If you'd like to add, it is not your choice, you apply for it. And then the committee decides who gets the diversity ticket. Sure. But

Sandra Alghrimm 38:58
I still thought you know, I'm working at Microsoft. So should they pay for it?

Tim Bourguignon 39:03
Definitely. And I wanted to comment on the diversity. It's like a bicycle for conferences. There's a committee for that. And you use suggest whatever you want to talk about. And if they don't want to hear that, and then they don't want to hear that. But it's not your choice to censor yourself beforehand.

Sandra Alghrimm 39:18
Yeah, that's true. Also, if you apply for diversity tickets, it's not just open for women. So it's open for all kind. And if you think for whatever reason, maybe you have a poor background, or something else, you can still apply for it. Or yeah, with the next year or whatever. And then at cube con, I met some other cloud advocates. And they're like, Senator, you, you're at the wrong job. So you're doing workshops, other times and demos and so on, only had customers why don't you do this, like open on YouTube for everyone for every developers and do the sessions on conferences and not just on customer sites? And then you can say Go to meetups and organize you Meet Up, and why don't you switch teams and I was like, can I. And yeah, and then I applied at this team. And then in the middle of this, you know, also came with a race and also some level apps because I didn't had so much experience at customers, but a lot of experience and communities so, so the live event app, and at this time I was and they also told me that I can travel, how much I want. So I also can not travel at all. But I also could travel, like, if I'm speaking at a conference in Spain, obviously, I can travel there. But I would have to own the spot. So go through the CVP, and then own the spot, and then speak there. So that was very cool. And then I also got pregnant at this time. So in the middle of salary adjustments, it was like very hard saying, No, I want more, I need more, I will do my company care. So you need to pay it and the range in between. I also got told by colleagues that I wasn't seen as my first salary also was very bad for my experience. So I'd go up. But then when pregnant, and given the fact that I in my previous role, I had to travel all the time. And I was like, no way I can travel all the time with the baby at home. So I was just saying to the recruiter, you know what I would just accept. And he was like, I should. Okay, but there was at this moment, it fed right, to make sure that I'm going to have the other position the other job back can travel how much I want. I mean, then comes COVID And no one customer over. That's right, who knows, you couldn't expect this. And then I found out recently, like one year ago, so not so recently, about one year ago, I found out that in bigger companies, you do usually have the opportunity to ask HR or your manager, how your salary is in, in comparison to your colleagues who have the same experience experience and who are on the same level that I found out that I have 8% less. So I went to my manager and was like, what's going on? Am I 8%? Less verse? And he's like, obviously not. So he asked his manager. And so this race was very, very easy to get. And it's always good to ask for this number, given if it's like, okay, you're earning like 10% More than it's like, I think I'm on the wrong level. So can we do something with the level? Because obviously, I'm already worth it. So yeah, I actually would say you should ask for this number from time to time. If

Tim Bourguignon 42:40
you can, I can do that. I thought salaries, at least in Germany were a taboo topic, you shouldn't talk about, shouldn't ask.

Sandra Alghrimm 42:48
I mean, they didn't give me any numbers. They just told me that it's

Tim Bourguignon 42:51
true. But that gives you a number of peer comparisons. But anyway, okay, good to know. So have you found yet now your your sweet spot, and that's exactly what you were born to do.

Sandra Alghrimm 43:04
Kind of I really was must say cloud advocacy is so cool. I can teach again, I can do workshops. Live, I also tried Twitch, but it's very stressful, because you never know how many people have come. And I think it's good if you can do it regularly. But because of the pandemic and I never know if my son can go to kindergarten. I kind of stopped but it's great. You can do all this causes and teach, you can always learn new things. We are very bonded with the product team. So I'm I just had this morning, another meeting with the product teams where they are telling us what they're going to do in the next year or six months and what the new features are going to be. And we can play with them very early in early stage, make sure that it's the developer focused and that we don't miss anyone check out if the documentation is there. And also point to the pain points. If there's not enough documentation, then we do have to write the documentation ourselves as well. Even though if you do have, in theory others to do this, like the content team, but you know, as we already found out, sometimes it's easier and more efficient if we just do it. And so I also created some learn modules on Microsoft learn, which is also great. Another way to teach again, and to make sure that you're you do have the knowledge for it. Because sometimes I also deal with imposters probably same for everyone. And it's kind of if you then create those modules and especially if it's very easy for you to create and then you get all the feedback like wow, that's That's intense. That's enough. That's a lot of knowledge you put into this 30 minutes learn module. It's kind of fun. Yes, you did that. And also for folks suffering from impostor it's really helpful if you study because then you have your bachelor's or your masters it's kind of proof that you

Tim Bourguignon 44:55
can refer yourself that's your you did the work.

Sandra Alghrimm 44:58
Oh yeah. Are you exam If you don't study this finest way, I don't know how others are doing or surviving with imposter. But that's something that helps me doing exams or like some finding some way of proof that I can do this.

Tim Bourguignon 45:14
It sounds like a sweet spot for you. Definitely. Yeah. It's the teaching.

Sandra Alghrimm 45:17
Yeah. speaking at conferences, I don't know when it comes back. But the plan is, I think, and I think the first one is in December, in cm Berlin, but yeah, we can say it now. And I will also speak at Spring one. Next one, it's in September, it's in Vitria. Event. Nice, you know, I don't know what to do. I think it's a free conference. So

Tim Bourguignon 45:38
okay, looking back on your past that what was there one piece of advice that was really forming, that was really something that helped you along the way and you would like to pass it on?

Sandra Alghrimm 45:46
I think the main things I already said. So if you don't feel valued, just go. I mean, you can try to change them. But changing folks is so hard. And I'm not sure if it's worth it. And I'm also not sure if it's your responsibility. I tried to I tried to change them. It was also was very helpful. We had a team event. You know, I asked the senior at this team event, we had some beers and drinks. So it was very relaxed atmosphere. And then I asked him like, Hey, why are you doing this questioning thing? Every time I'm having a question. He was like, you know, Sandra, I'm having three kids at home. And what I want to do and work is just programming. I want to be on myself and just, you know, stay with me. I just don't want to be bothered. Christian's great. So he's not doing it just me. He's doing that to everyone. I'm just like, Yeah, but maybe then seniors, not the right title for you. Because if our senior so expect some mentoring for more young junior folks, or even for others just get a different opinion on this. But in the end, it was very helpful for me to find out that it wasn't something personal, and also something I can change. So there was But

Tim Bourguignon 46:58
picking your battles is always, always very important to choose if you're going to fight for that or not, and really decide and no, I'm not going to fight for that, then. Awesome. Summer, it's been a blast listening to your story. Thank you very much. Where can the listeners find find you online and ask you for the questions or started discussion with you with a little time you have.

Sandra Alghrimm 47:17
Thank you. I'm available on Twitter. So I'm very active there recently, you can find me that as cream head, you can also find me on LinkedIn. If you're a developer, I will add you if you are recording, I won't accept your Thank you.

Tim Bourguignon 47:32
No recruiters listening, I hope. No, no, you're welcome as well. But don't use everyone. That's true. You're right. I retract my my points. Anything else then Java one on your plate, you want to you want to plug in before we call it today.

Sandra Alghrimm 47:54
Um, I also add, I'm also at the program committee for J con. I'm not speaking there. But say a great conference or virtual online. There are many great sessions I I was in the committee, so I've chosen the best ones for you, them. And then again, just find me on Twitter, I'm usually putting every sessions there as well and inform you about this. And my session at Spring one is about the Visual Studio Code pack for Java and how you can start with spring one with spring very easily. So it's very beginner oriented session there. So even if you're have very little experience in programming, that's the right one for you. And I'm doing that together with Matt in the bed from VMware. So the company behind spring, so I think it's gonna be fun.

Tim Bourguignon 48:45
I'm sure he will. I'm sure what. Awesome solar. Thank you very, very much. Thanks, Tim. And this has been another episode of developer's journey. I will see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on on our website, Dev journey dot info slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info. Talk to you soon.