#209 Ingrid Epure is a self defined generalist
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Ingrid Epure 0:00
For me, your programming language matters less because I think that's learnable. I think it's interesting to me how you think about concepts. Like for example, okay, you're using a sword function. Okay, well, what does that actually mean? How is how is that sword actually implemented? Or how do you think about concurrency? For example, although that's not a very entry level question, but you kind of get the ideas. How do you go about understanding concepts? I think that's much more valuable than sticking to a particular programming language. Because guess what, five years from now that programming language might be dead.
Tim Bourguignon 0:30
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 you on this episode 209, I receive Ingrid epure. Ingrid wants to make the world simpler, one production system at a time. She is currently doing exactly that, as a senior staff at Netlify. Working on reliability and scalability. It cares deeply about making tech more accessible and open, as well as ethics in tech. When she's not working, she loves to nerd out to the board games and coffee. And try to learn to play the piano. Ingrid, welcome to the attorney.
Ingrid Epure 1:15
Hello, I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 1:19
Oh, it's my very pleasure. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the Deaf 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 as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as is usual in the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your journey?
Ingrid Epure 2:11
Yeah, I mean, I'll start by saying that I've never actually had the opportunity to sit down and think and explain my own career backup myself. So I'm really curious to see where this takes us. And I'm just as excited to like dive in. Yeah. So I mean, oh, gosh, from the beginning. So I discovered computers when I was like nine or 10. I grew up in Romania. And at the time, this was like, named late 90s. No one really had a personal computer, or very few people did very few schools did, actually. And so the way we did it is go to an internet cafe and do Internet things, and maybe like play some games. And I think that the gaming was stronger than the internet at the time were like, so in one of those little cafes, what I did is started playing this alien game called odd world. And I was really, really hooked so much so that I think they let me play for free a bunch of times, because I was there like almost every day like summer break. And I became like, really, really fascinated about it. And I couldn't stop talking about it to like my friends and like my parents as well. I was really obsessed. And I got really, really curious. On what is it about technology that's so fascinating, and has this power to almost create, like a different reality? And how is, I guess, technology impacting society? And I mean, you could say that I could have gone and studied psychology or philosophy and answered those questions. But alas, I didn't, I actually did computer science. So initially, I wanted to go into gaming. But the second I started studying graphics, I realized that it really wasn't for me, it wasn't really fulfilling my whatever you want to call it curiosity, engineering aspirations, it just wasn't a good fit. And instead, I discovered the web. And I really, really loved the way you can just create something and put it out there and people would find it and it would engage with it. So when I was in high school, I started creating like my first online magazine, which had a lot of like philosophic ramblings, I've always loved philosophy, and they've always loved the writing. And I think one universal truth about Romania's school system is that it will give you a lot of range on like things to study on like things, things to do. So I really, really loved the web. And I think that has become like a constant in my career goals or like things that I would that I would love to impact. And I think in the last few years working for Netlify, it has been exactly that which like all of the initial aspirations kind of came into existence like much more recently in my career. But I think while I have a traditional background, I did kind of took a bit of a detour and a bit of an exploratory approach to my career and like in the beginning, I wanted to do other things. Things like that. See, I was at some point they didn't marketing at some point. Also, because I was working my way through university and there weren't any part time jobs at the time in tech in Romania. So yeah, I can talk a little bit more about the detour later. But I think that's, that's me as a TLDR.
Tim Bourguignon 5:17
Very cool. And it's all about the detours on this show, you know, so we're gonna talk about the detours. One thing I want to come back to first is Did you know, as a nine year old already, that computers are going to be your would be your life at some point? Do you have this idea already?
Ingrid Epure 5:33
Yeah, I mean, oh, that's a good question. Because I need to go back and think of putting myself in the mind of my nine year old self, I think. So I think what I really wanted is understand, understand them really. And I didn't quite know what that would mean, obviously. But I knew I wanted to learn more and dive deeper. And I think that is very true today about myself, I see myself as a generalist, as opposed to being specialized in one area, I think I'm eternally curious about technology. And something that I really love about our industry is that there is so much to learn. And there isn't one recipe that fits all. And I love that I love the fact that like, one day, there's this new technology or new cool thing that would just change your perspective about about something or an area. And I love that from day one. And I still feel like many, many, many years later, there's still so much to learn, and so much to do. So yeah, this I think this curiosity is a permanent theme feature of Ingrid as engineer.
Tim Bourguignon 6:38
But then this curiosity goes beyond probably just computer science. So how did you focus that on computer science and not nerd around in everything? Tech or non tech related?
Ingrid Epure 6:52
You know, I have a philosophical answer. And then I have a practical answer. And I think I'll go into practical answer. First, I think the practical answer is that I am quite a social person. And I love and wanted to have a life outside of tech. So for example, in the beginning, one of the gateways that I was talking about and like working sales, is that I came out of that, like, recognizing that I am a pretty social person that I work well with, like I communicate well with people that I am excited generally about stories and about people. And they thought, Well, what else could I do if I don't do this job of like talking to a computer every day and I shift into talking to humans what what can I do so it came out of, you know, the the range of skills that I could apply somewhere else, but also in here's the practical bit. Romanian, the 90s was a very poor country, I grew up in a very poor household. So I think money has in the back of my head has been a bit of an incentive of what what can I do practically that will fit my set of skills, but will also make me have a decent livelihood? And I think that's okay. I think a lot of people I've talked about this before, in like talks and such, but I think people feel kind of weird talking about money, but actually, we do live in a capitalist society, where even going to school or having food or you know, rent etc. Like, everything costs money. So here we are, right. So I think that mix of, you know, here are my skills, and here's what I need, which is a practice to, you know, make some money, what could I do? So I tried sales and marketing for a while. And at the same time, I was working on my thesis. And while working on the thesis, I was like, actually, no, this is what I want to do. I love it. Tech is for me. So I've always had this, like, tech is for me, this is my career. However, I do you have hobbies, sometimes too many. So in the philosophical tip now is that in the most recent years, I've switched to being a bit more deliberate, rather than doing 100 million things, having like one yearly goal, and diving down into one of those interests. So for example, in 2021, he was piano and I learned how to do that, this year, that were a bit more free with the pandemic and were able to do things outside of the home focusing on yoga and sports and getting back to being active because that really sucked with with the pandemic. So I tried to be from this multitude of interests, I have become much more deliberate and say, Okay, from I don't have infinite time, and I like sleeping. So that's also a deal breaker. So then I will like, what is it that I want to do most and I will pick one thing and do that one thing only?
Tim Bourguignon 9:27
Yeah. Are you deliberate like that with your professional life as well to really picking goals for yourself setting deadlines or timelines really focusing on stuff?
Ingrid Epure 9:37
Yes. And no, I don't really I'm not very well. I tend to avoid very strict deadlines because I have an anxious personality and I feel like when you give me a really strict deadline, I will freak out about it. And then I will do the thing that everyone does, which is procrastinate and then on the crunch time, because I have an idea of how fast would time be like to complete a task I will procrastinate until I hit that limit, and then I won't go do it. And then I, you know, I will be like full mode on for that much time, which is not a good way to live your life do not do what I'm doing, it's really not good. So I tend to avoid deadlines, like very strict deadlines with myself in terms of like learnings and such, but I am deliberate about certain areas of growth. And I think, particularly kind of going from senior to no senior staff, I have had to break down my focus and go, Okay, what do I really want to invest in that would further my career and be more deliberate, but I will say that in the in the sort of my career, and what I aim to do is literally be a sponge and go with the opportunity, because I was focusing on learning and I was focusing on seeing what else is out there and kind of figuring out what works for me. So I think I wanted to allow myself to be curious and go with opportunities. And now that I also know myself and know what I want out of my career a little bit better. I feel like it's much easier work comes more natural to be deliberate. Yeah,
Tim Bourguignon 11:03
it's always hard as the beginning of career because you want to be as wide as possible, you want to explore, you want to understand what's what there is. But at the same time, you need to time to go deep and understanding one thing or a couple of things really, really thoroughly. And this is the exact opposite of one another. It's orthogonal to one another. And it's hard to, to mix and match both. For me it's been it's been basically playing the pendulum and going deep for a while, and then going broad, and then going deep for a while and going broke. That has worked for me the best. But I know I struggled with that at the beginning as well. Yeah, I have kids and too much do anyways.
Ingrid Epure 11:40
Totally. And I feel like Oh, I love that analogy of the pendulum. And I think there's this great article that Ciardi majors wrote about the engineering manager pendulum. And I love that analogy for learning as well. I never quite thought about that. But I was gonna say, though, that I think the ability to be curious and have space to explore is a very privileged space to be in. Because I think sometimes you just lose really want to put food on the table, or you don't have the either the time or the money or the space luxury to, to allow for that creativity or to allow for that flexibility. And I think in the beginning of my career, that was very much the case. For me, I was like, Okay, what job can I have, that won't set me back, it might not necessarily set me up for this ultimate goal of my career. But it is actually what I need now. And I think I would love to hear more that this was okay. Because for the longest time, I think we first off, we don't talk about it a lot, we kind of seem to as an industry, we seem to have very strong opinions about where someone should start or what they should do or how they should do it. And I think it's also really important to acknowledge that, actually, sometimes you just need a job. And even if you if it's not like your dream job, it will get you further anyway. So it's not like, as long as you're deliberate, like as long as you keep if your ultimate goal is really important to you. And as long as you keep going towards that. It's might not be like that big of a setback, where if it looks different than other people, and that's totally fine. Again, I started in testing at the time in Romania, well in Romania in the late 90s. But like after I graduated, like early 2000s, the web was still a toy, no one quite figured out how to monetize the web. That became much later. So for me at the time, even though I was really fascinated by the web, and I wanted to do more on the web, the reality is that the opportunities weren't there. And then I graduated, and I needed a job. So I went and did automation, actually. And I worked in actually it like at the time, it wasn't even like web related. It was just the normal like Windows app, that type of thing. And it was great. I learned a lot. And I learned a completely new area. And they had a fantastic team to learn from and it was a really good job. Was it exactly what I wanted? No, did I have a great time? Absolutely. And I learned a ton. And it gives me the experience of being part of a team and in a multinational company, which which was great.
Tim Bourguignon 14:09
And this strikes a chord very much with what I've been trying to do with this podcast, because every story that I hear started at some point, sometimes very, very strange places. But that the the the trend, I seen all the stories is people being able to look at that and say, This is what I learned there. And this is why I took with me and this is what I did after that, even if it wasn't tech related. I remember one one guest who was a pastor and and who really took out of his His scripture studies, the logic of algorithms. And I think wow, fascinating. I wouldn't have guessed and that's how we explain it and so there's there's NO NO to NO NO places to weird or no place is is is not good enough. It's where you start. And I guess the only thing that I try to see or try to To hope to see when people hog is, is this critical look on it and saying, This is what I took this is what was maybe not that great, a critical mindset on top of that, and then the rest is good.
Ingrid Epure 16:00
Yeah, and I think I am nodding and I was thinking about the Scripture thing, because that's fascinating. And I need to read I'd love to read more on that as well follow up with you after this. Yeah, no, I'm nodding because it's really, it's really good point. And I couldn't, I couldn't agree with more more with you. And I think me doing sales and me doing marketing, I think what really taught me is how to maybe not be afraid of certain environments or not feel really like me being like, intimidated or to I'm having pretty outgoing personality in general, I think, tech in general rewards this type of like, outspoken thing, which, which is a problem. I think everyone like part of making tech accessible means that everyone should be at the table and should be able to be successful, and there is no one size fits all. However, I think it did allow me to be able to comfortably be in certain situations and be able to explore those or be curious about them. So I think it was a good like, from a personality point of view, like growth. For like a personal personality area. I've learned a lot from from doing sales. And I've learned a lot from from having to learn a different area that is not my own wasn't my own. On the
Tim Bourguignon 17:11
on the practical side, you have the feeling that you nowadays use skills that you learn exactly at that place. How do you mean, I know being doing some some some cold calling, for instance, in sales, I haven't done that. But I've worked in after sales services. So people come and complain, basically, it's the place where they come and complain. And having this experience of people complaining to me, for something I'm absolutely not responsible of was really forming for me and really to say you're here to to to understand, it's not about you, it's somebody venting off the boat, something which is not working as they as they thought it would be. And you're the person responsible for talking with them. And so I took over those skills at that time of not taking it personally etc. In my career. And I suspect that you took some skills from your, from this point in time when you need sales and marketing in your career right now. Did you have some ideas of do skills or what
Ingrid Epure 18:06
those might be? Yeah, I see. You know, yeah, so I think I was brought up with this idea that every job matters. And I think my, my parents who never went to university, from from them to my teachers to in general, like my upbringing has been every job matters. Treat everyone with respect. And I think something that working in sales and marketing did is reinforced my empathy for other roles. I think Tech has such a big elitism, like, so big, and there's big egos. And I think, you know, we do do important work, I think, and I'm sure you've come across, at some point, those types of situations. And I think while I'm in no way perfect, and obviously, like everyone has, like learning points and whatnot, I think something that sales and marketing do for me is reinforce that empathy towards other roles and the fact that we are in this together, and we are kind of try, we all strive towards the same thing, which is to do a good job. And I think even though your job might look very different than mine, we all add values in in different different ways. And I think that that's very, very present in my mind and I do try to whenever I engage with our support or sales teams, I do try to use that empathy and put myself in their shoes and I think obviously kind of understanding customer goals or be able to have that think about the other party has been very beneficial working with with some of our customers for example and understand like what drives them and where where it's coming from so I think it does, like open that door to interact better with with other roles because you are seeing you're able to understand what's it like for them and I think in general in tech, we need more empathy, we really do. And this is kind of a way to cheat your way into manufacturing some some empathy you go in to do something for a while and then learn about it. And what I really loved in one of my previous jobs that we had these rotations on on Customer Support where you go and like join the team for two days every quarter, I believe, and you would get to actually be a support team member and talk to customers directly. And I think for for engineering, I found that to be so valuable because it helped raise that awareness of actually, what are some of the things coming in, but also like, what's it like for our, for our teammates, and how we can best support them. And I think that's great. Again, it goes through like, to the idea that we were all in this together, which which I love,
Tim Bourguignon 20:32
absolutely nothing in this time, I am not being ugly. It's like this DevOps idea of look across across the yellow or over the wall, or be part of the production for the year for the the DSR. Among us, it's the same with our customers, look at what's being done in customer support. If you don't do your job properly, this is what your colleagues are dealing with. And this is what the customers are complaining about. And you take that back with you when when you go back in your teams and then develop differently. So yeah, absolutely. Certainly, we've talked about the beginning of your career, or the very beginning just before your career, and then about 95. But there's a whole bunch in between, would you mind if we if we dug into that?
Ingrid Epure 21:08
Yeah, yes, let's do it. I'm excited.
Tim Bourguignon 21:11
How did you get your first job? How did that go? And how did your expectation of your first job match this first job? That's a question I always like to ask.
Ingrid Epure 21:22
The first job in tech, I touched a little bit about a little bit about that, after I graduated, I very much just needed the job. So I applied to a bunch of places and wanted to see who would actually allow me to join. In hindsight, I think finding a job was more painful than I expected it to be. And it's still, as I'm saying that it makes me really, really angry, realizing that here we are almost a decade later. And it's still very painful to find a new job. And I see a lot of lurk in Twitter a bunch. And I do see a lot of people trying to break into tech and having still a really painful experience, which is makes me really, really sad. And I think, as an industry that complains a lot that we don't have enough people, this is something that we really need to figure out. So I applied, tried a bunch of interviews, I think eventually one led me in. And while it wasn't necessarily aligned with my ultimate goal of doing well, but it was a great company, great multi national company that taught me a lot about how different teams operate within the context of a big company. And also give me an overview of what career development by look like inside a really, really big company, a universal truth about Romania's tech system in like 2000, but even now is that it's very outsourcing. Romania has a larger pool of talent, but it's also very focused on on outsourcing. So you don't actually get a lot of ownership, you're more a really, really good engineer executing on a predefined set of goals. So you don't have a lot of input. So I was actually missing this opportunity of being able to have input into a product and being able to actually have more of a voice in what we're building, as opposed to, you know, being contracted, contracted for for a role. So eventually, after like about your two and a half into my career, I decided to try to live abroad for a while. So I moved from Romania to Dublin, and Dublin, I had the opportunity to join AOL for almost two years. And AOL was one of those stepping stones in my career where I moved from focusing a lot on testing to actually having exposure on distributed systems and performance and be able to do a lot of really, really interesting kind of cutting edge at the time things. And it really opened up the door to having that be able to have that input and be able to have that ownership and be able to feel like you're contributing to the goal of a company. So I think in terms of one of the bigger milestones for myself, has actually been moving from maybe an outsourced consulting role to actually working for for a company directly and having like direct input, which that that meant a lot to me. And eventually, kind of like mid career, I decided that okay, I've had a lot of I've seen what it's like to work for a really big company, what would it be like to work for a startup? So I switched to startup world about? Oh, I think it's six years now. And I worked for a startup in Dublin for about two years, eventually ended up in Netlify, about three years ago. And here we are, yeah, building a bit of a timeline there. And we'll see what we want to dig into together.
Tim Bourguignon 24:30
This is fascinating. I've had my fair share of contracting and consulting as well. So I would be interested in hearing with them which what he wants you to get out of this experience how satisfying it was on the product side as you can as it may be, there is some some pros in being consulting in seeing different thing not feeling as attached as your some of your co workers on the project cetera, to what would be the plus sides and you talked a bit about minus sides but whether is the plus side that you that you took out of this experience.
Ingrid Epure 25:03
I think what contracting really taught me is ownership, because you do get a very specific task that you have to own and you are seen as a subject matter expert. So I think that's really good. Because the thing that you the way you define success is usually results. And when you get those results, I guess it can be really like reinforcing and give you a boost of confidence into your own ability. So I think, for me consulting, having it happened, like gradually, I guess, and having seen but both of those sides, I think looking back, I realize just how much I've learned in terms of confidence from it, and being able to take ownership over over some tasks and be able to focus on work, which I think here comes a bit of tech that is maybe like not not so good as a parallel. I think, in general minorities in tech, there is no, we all know that we are struggling a lot with bias in this industry, and particularly around the way we give feedback to minorities in our industry. And I think it can be a positive side that I potentially see from from consulting is that it can set you up as a subject matter expert in the room from from day one, because they usually treat contractors that ways like this person comes in to fix this. You assume they are already, you know, competent, there's less having to prove yourself. And they think that that can be good. And I think that can be a bit of a confidence boost, particularly for minorities in tech, where in the normal environment, if you are unlucky, on the culture of the company that you're joining, it can feel a bit like you have to constantly prove yourself and constantly having to like validate that you belong there that you belong at the table. And actually my first one of my first startup experiences, I was in the team where I had to constantly prove myself and it wasn't great. And there really burned me out. My first really big burnout in tech actually happened on the startup. And it happens specifically because the the culture of the team was set up in such a way that you have to constantly kind of work really, really hard to prove yourself and get any sort of not even recognition. It was like you're Yeah, you're doing. Okay, good. It's okay that you're here, that type of type of thing. And bite. Yeah. By comparison, I think when when you're a contractor, it's like, yeah, this person's an expert, let's, let's let them do their job. And I feel like you have much less upward fighting words like struggling to get people to trust what you're doing
Tim Bourguignon 27:41
that that is very true. That's very true. You're You're You're indeed seen as a subject matter expert, you are, you have the benefit of the doubt, I would say, when you start Yeah, indeed.
Ingrid Epure 27:52
Which is so mind boggling to me, considering how difficult our interviewing processes are, when you hire someone, you make them go through so many stages. And I think it's, it's incredible that we do that, and then the person joins. And in some cases, that's still not enough. Again, you know, we're talking about extreme circumstances where there's something probably fishy with the culture of that company. But I do think that if we look around, I'm sure you have friends in your circle where you've heard those those stories. And I certainly have friends in those circles where I heard those stories. And, again, I was kind of a little bit in that situation at some point. So yeah, it's really, it feels like we're lying to ourselves a little bit about what we want to achieve as part of the interview process and how we actually treat people when when they join the company.
Tim Bourguignon 28:42
Indeed, some companies do. Certainly not not ours. May not it's not good. Okay. So at some point, you transitioned from a more equality and testing oriented, I wanted to profile but it's not the right word, it's more day to day job, or role Exactly. toward more development. How did that
Ingrid Epure 29:01
mean, no one fired me. So I guess one, well, how did it go? I think it came pretty natural. I think the way I personally approached it is where my curiosity kicked in. And I started wanting to really understand the test that we were doing and in depth understand the system in depth. And I think something that I'm fairly good at is having a big picture of our systems and how the data flows through the system. And maybe like some areas where we could, we could do better. So in general, I think of a problem in I tried to see all aspects of a problem, which is a skill that I think testing really helps you get better and better at, the more that you're doing it. But it's actually really, really effective in distributed systems where you where you have to deal with, you know, different systems connecting together and a fair bit of integration. And I think it also came at a time where this our industry had a bit of a pivotal moment where a lot of the newer companies or even like more established companies We're talking about merging QA with Dev, where developers will be in charge of their own testing. And it felt like so much easier to me like a much more like easier workflow to have from just from a human point of view, where it made sense for me that the code that I would write, I would be the owner of it all the way to production. And I should have feedback steps along the way that would make sure that I'm not doing something wrong. So I think part of that was luck. I'll be honest with you, because I think I was right about when I was in that situation, the industry was kind of taking that bit of a turn. And part of it is that actually from from the testing, and like the QA, the thing that really something that really helped there was expand my my system thinking and so from there going into backend and distributed systems was a pretty natural transition for me, and a lot of the skills can be reused. Funny how that happens, right. And it goes back to the what we said initially that you do learn something from every job that you can apply to the next and I think that was very much the case here.
Tim Bourguignon 30:59
So you had the chance to to find new company valuating, your your former experience highly and saying, Okay, it's not just a sidestep or step back, it's adding a lot of knowledge coming from from, from a different perspective to a development team. And this is a net bonus added to the team. And so when we value this,
Ingrid Epure 31:20
yeah, I think that really nailed it, I think it was a combination of the company recognizing the value in this perspective and matching the role, which, which is the bit that is, is luck. And I think, again, something that we don't talk a lot about devote career development wise is that you do need the level of luck. I think the fact that I found a job in Romania, and like after university, like my first job, how the certain level to a certain degree to be with luck, it just so happened that this company had a role available, and I helped him to be available. And then it worked out. And I think it was the same with me moving to Dublin, and like working for you. Well, I think it just so happened that they had a spot available. And I had skills that matched what they were looking for. So I think with big pivotal moments in careers, I think it's about being open to recognizing what's around you and being open to and flexible. But it's also a degree of actually having things available around you. So it's a mix of openness and going into you're approaching your career with with an open mind, but at the same time being lucky that you would have people around that would support you and believe in you. And that roles or opportunities exist that would match your your skill set. And I think with with this last one, obviously you can tailor your skill set to what the industry needs and whatnot. But it's still I think, in general, the ICU there's so having to need the degree of luck to
Tim Bourguignon 32:49
this is this is definitely a big factor, I like to put it in, in the light of making a bit of your own luck, because otherwise it's too it's too much too much passive for my for my mindset say, Well, if luck happens, and luck happens, and I'm lucky I like to to generate or think I can generate a bit of luck. And there there was a book I can't remember the title it was saying basically, you have to be open for the for recognizing luck when it comes by. And so if you're not looking, if you're not on the lookout, if you don't know what to look for, then probably like, well, we'll just go by fly by and you won't you won't see it as as you should have or you could have. And so yeah, you have an active role to play in that. But definitely, like it's a big, it's a big, big, big role and plays a big role in careers. I mean, we're both in Europe. And we have it's pretty much very good compared to some other places in the world. And this is this is just pure luck that we were born there and get to grow here. So yeah, absolutely.
Ingrid Epure 33:52
I also think that's one of the big parts about being a generalist that I that I really like, and I think has has benefited my career long term where I seek to understand things, at least at a high level. And I have this curiosity of, oh, I want to know how it works. It's very hard for me as a human to accept that something works like that, and not try to understand why I think something that I've always done is why why does it work like that? How does this website actually resolve if I type like unicorns.com? What happens there? How does it work? And I think that took me to discover other interesting areas where they discover other things that people are people are talking about, for example, at the moment, I think you mentioned in the beginning in my bio that I love ethics in tech. And I do I think we are in this really interesting pivotal point where we need to start talking more about how our data is used. And for example, the European Union is looking into just the art at the moment. Like how, how do companies actually use all this data? Because we do have a lot of data. What does that mean? What does privacy actually mean? Which is really important conversation. I worked for you Well, which the behavioral advertising and again, some of those, like starting to ask, okay, what does we have technology now that influences multiple aspects of society? What does that actually bring us? And what what are we doing with with all of this? And I guess, being kind of going from like, oh, I want to understand this and into the next will help fabricate the luck, as you said, and help you discover proactively discover the different areas. And that's, I think the the bit about being a generalist that I think sometimes is overlooked or maybe not appreciated enough, I think what's something that I found, has allowed me to do is find out what, what what else is interesting, and then I can help plan the next steps of my career accordingly,
Tim Bourguignon 35:48
when former guest painted it as specializing in being a generalist, so that means I love being a generalist, but really pushing hard in being a generalist and going broad and not not just that broad, am I making a gesture with my hands and but really, that broad and going, going as far as you can. And then you had some, you really add some values because you bring different topics and perspectives on the table that are really not connected right now. And then you can connect them. If you're if you were actually a fake generalist, which is actually you have a few a few specialties and that says, and you call that generalism, then that usually doesn't work. It's you really have to go to go abroad, but when you do I agree with you, it's really adding a lot of value both to you and to your surroundings.
Ingrid Epure 36:37
And I don't think I think there's very few areas in Tech where they exist in isolation, I think a lot of a lot of it is interconnected. Like one of the things that companies in general, other product based companies they talk about is what's the customer experience. And when you ask yourselves questions like that, that means that you are going outside of the sphere of tech. And obviously you can specialize on there's benefits to be specialized in certain areas that might might fit your job. But I think I would personally argue that it's really good to keep the awareness of how does that integrate with with other bits. And I think in general, when I've went outside of my role, to see what else is on the other side, it has been the one common denominator that has pushed my career forward. And for example, as a back end engineer, I started being involved in incident management a lot. And I started doing on call. And I think what uncle taught me is actually, let's think of ways in which systems can fail. And let's think of infrastructure, let's think of provisioning, let's think of like this other layer that is, without which your service won't exist. Let's think about databases, which is my life day to day right now. And if your database is down, doesn't matter that your service is super performance, it just nothing will happen. So I think overall, having that awareness of what whether your integration points personally, I have found that it expanded my ability to make decisions more confidently, and it made me a better engineer. And that has been a constant in my career actually understanding what the hell else is around you. It's how I learned and I think it's, it's been fascinating to I'm never bored, I will tell you that.
Tim Bourguignon 38:20
This is actually one of the questions I always ask in interviews, is asking people to describe the person to describe one of the projects or systems they worked in. And then when when they're done explaining, saying, and what's around it. And you get so much from people not being able to answer this, or having a real systemic understanding of where their piece of the system fits into the rest, and seeing how things things go. You discover about curiosity, you discover about human interactions, etc. And it's always a fun discussion. But it gives you so much insights about the person in being able to observe this.
Ingrid Epure 38:59
I will also say though, because I focus a lot more on systems in general than on people, I would say that there's so much gatekeeping in tech, that we also have to be careful when asking that question because maybe the person was not given the opportunity, or the support to go and understand what, what's around them. And personally, I think the one thing that really annoys me is gatekeeping. So I kind of I purposely wanted to make that about myself where I go and like look at those integration points, because I think gatekeeping is really dangerous. And we it's very sad that we are a part of this industry that is trying to change the world. All of us have secretly probably some sort of ambition that we're going to have some sort of impact into this world. But then we hold very tightly and not allow people to be whatever they want to be in this industry, career wise. So I think it's always yes, you should. It would be great if you would be able to understand the integration points and such but let's also set up the team culture and the The culture inside the company so that everyone has access to learning, which is really important. And I would love my dreams and hopes for the future. With v that we could we would value learning and exploring more once upon a time. Fun fact, I actually had the manager that said that you seem to be always learning and that's not great for a senior engineer. And that's terrible. Like what I know. And that's terrible. Because if I, if I don't learn, then, like, what else is out there? Like you should learn. That's how you get better. Everyone should learn. No one knows everything. Like it's impossible. So then we have to exercise are learning empathy, and you know, trying to get better. And so yeah, learning is good. We should do more of it.
Tim Bourguignon 40:46
Yes, indeed, I want to put myself in the shoes of this manager out, it was probably thinking, Well, if you're learning, then you will go at some point, and then I will lose you. So stop learning.
Ingrid Epure 40:56
Oh, I think that's that's a lovely thought. And, sure, we'll go with that. Although,
Tim Bourguignon 41:03
there you go. I prefer this. This idea, I think we've come to the to the place where I where I want to ask you for one advice. And I would like to come back to one of the things we said at the beginning this this ambivalent between generalism and specialty. In order to find a job, you usually have to go deep, more than go abroad. But for your interest and keeping the job you need to go abroad and not deep. How would you advise somebody at the beginning of their career to navigate this, this ambivalence in order to find a job and have some money and make a living out of it, but also satisfy their curiosity and prepare for the future? Oh, that's
Ingrid Epure 41:40
such a great question. Because I actually encountered a few people that are early stages of their career and have had this really extensive, kind of like experience on a resume. And it's like, okay, but like fruit from there, actually, what, what are you interested in, and I think it's important to, as you said, pick an area, so you can demonstrate enough competency to find the job, but keep an open mind on what's actually relevant at the time. So I think the advice that I would have is do a bit of research into, like, what's available, what's interesting to people. And then from that vastness, let's say we're talking about, I don't know, front end engineering, or even back end that there's like, you could do Ruby, and you could do go and you could do rust, and you can do Java and like a million other things, if you think back end is your area or front and this is your area, pick a programming language, or learn that enough to be able to go through an interview process, where you will still have to demonstrate that you're able to reliably code because that's how interviews work in this industry. So I would say, pick an area that sounds really interesting to you. And from there, don't worry too much about like learning every single programming language or every single framework out there. Pick one that you like that you understand that you enjoy using, I think that's the most important thing and learn that and then you will have opportunities throughout your career or throughout the job to explore other alternatives. I did interviews in Java for the longest time. And I interviewed for a Ruby job in Java because Java was my main language. And I was like, Yeah, I cannot fake myself as a Ruby developer. But I knew that for the company, it wasn't important for me that I know Ruby from the get go, because they were okay with me learning it on the job. So back in engineering, like Mike my case, for example, backend engineering has been my area I've interviewed in Java for the longest time. And then from from there, when I actually got the job, I had the flexibility to go broad and become a generalist. So that's how I did it. I hope that I hope that helps.
Tim Bourguignon 43:49
And it matches pretty much with what I would be looking for. So at least I'm biased, but I'm asking the same way you
Ingrid Epure 43:55
Yes. Okay. At least in this bubble, we are. We are right. So that's great.
Tim Bourguignon 44:01
Yes. To to rephrase it, basically what I am searching as as a as an interviewer because I interview more than I as an interviewer more than an interviewee nowadays, is really show me that you can go deep in something, and and if it's remotely relatable to what what I'm searching for, then I trust you, you will you will make it happen. If you know Java, well enough to be able to pass an interview in Java, then you probably can learn Ruby as well. That should be I need to see that you've been going deep at least once.
Ingrid Epure 44:33
Yeah, and I think what, again, as an interviewer as well, for me, your programming language matters less because I think that's learnable. I think it's interesting to me how you think about concepts, like for example, okay, you're using a sword function. Okay, well, what does that actually mean? How is how is that sort actually implemented? Or how do you think about concurrency, for example, although that's not a very entry level question, but you kind of get the idea. It's how do you go about understanding concepts? I think that's much more valuable than sticking to a particular programming language because guess what, five years from now that programming language might be dead. And we do have to adapt, you know, as, as jobs progress and whatnot, I think we do have to adapt. And I think kind of demonstrating that from from the get go, for me is a really valuable skill to see in someone. And in general, I want to feel like I'm learning from from when from a person that I'm interviewing, I think that's the best feeling is, when you're in an interview, and you're like, Oh, my God, I learned something that's great, which can help with it at any level doesn't matter. If you have one year of experience, or 10 years of experience. I think there's opportunities to teach other people something every day. And yeah, I think it's more important how you think about concepts than necessarily like having the one programming language because I think that's learnable.
Tim Bourguignon 45:51
Amen to that. Ingrid, it's been a fantastic ride. Thank you very much for this whole story.
Ingrid Epure 45:56
Thank you as well, hopefully, some of it makes sense, and is helpful. But it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 46:02
All of it. Maybe not just some of it. So where would be the best place to find you online and start a discussion with you or continue this discussion with you?
Ingrid Epure 46:11
Yeah, I think Twitter is still probably the best place to engage with me. I'm opinionated PI on Twitter, there's some things if you've liked my career rants, there's some projects coming up in that direction. So feel free to find me on Twitter. And if you have ideas or thoughts, we can take it from there.
Tim Bourguignon 46:27
Okay, you mentioned the beginning, you had a guide on the writing. Would that be something you would be advertising on Twitter?
Ingrid Epure 46:34
At some point? Yes, it's not quite ready to be officially announced. But I am working on career development guide, specifically in minorities in tech, and getting your first promotion. So watch my Twitter space for updates in the upcoming weeks. But I'm very, very excited. As I have learned more in going from senior to senior staff. Now I would love to pass on some of that experience and share it with y'all. So yeah, watch this space for some updates.
Tim Bourguignon 47:02
I will personally do that. Looking forward to it. Thank you very much.
Ingrid Epure 47:08
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Tim Bourguignon 47:10
And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you like 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 our website, Dev journey dot info, slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Will 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.