Kara Luton 0:00
My manager is also working in my area of the app. And she is kind of the bigger picture person. She's seeing what projects are coming down online and how to assign people to those who can do what, who would be the best at what, and then also helping me with my career path, doing weekly one on ones and all my reviews and helping me just grow myself as a developer as well, which is really nice to be able to have that that structure of I know who to go to when I need feedback. And I'm getting feedback constantly. You know, I thrive on that, especially being a dancer like we got feedback all the time. That was how I improved my dancing. So I'm like, I have to have that feedback. So I know if I'm doing something wrong, or if I'm doing something right either way.

Tim Bourguignon 1:00
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. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and on this episode 158 I receive cara cara went from tutus to tech. After pursuing a career as a professional ballerina, Kara moved back to her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, to work as a music publicist. A life of pitching journalists and walking red carpets left her feeling unfulfilled. And she made the switch to finally being a software engineer. Now Kara has a passion for introducing others to this industry, and showing them they can succeed. Kara, a warm welcome to the afternoon.

Kara Luton 1:46
Thank you so much.

Tim Bourguignon 1:47
Always my very pleasure. Second, Korea's like that, I always love it. It's gonna be I'm sure. So Kara, 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 always, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you please to start off your developer's history.

Kara Luton 2:08
I think the star of my developer journey was when I was pursuing my career as a ballerina. So to give kind of a backstory, I had done ballet my whole life and started taking it a lot more seriously. When I was in high school. And my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to move to New York City by myself and become a trainee with the Joffrey Ballet School in a traineeships like the first step and kind of becoming a professional dancer. So I was dancing all day, every day, and doing school online. And that really enabled me to kind of make my decision of if I wanted to continue pursuing dance after I graduated high school or not. And I kind of came to this conclusion that, you know, I wanted to go to college. But I didn't know if I wanted to do dancer, or if I wanted to major. At this time, I was looking into public relations. So I wanted to major in PR. And I kind of came to conclusion that I think I've wanted to leave dance behind. It is a very hard career path does that doesn't last very long. And I just through my time dancing as a trainee, I just wasn't super passionate about it anymore. So I moved back home, like you said to Nashville, went to school at Belmont University and got my major in public relations. For a few years after graduating, I worked as a music publicist. So it was a very glamorous job, I got to hang out with a lot of musicians get to go on red carpets, do music, video shoots, all that fun stuff. But it was also a really demanding job. And I had no work life balance whatsoever. And I felt like the job was very monotonous. I was every single day was kind of the same thing. And I didn't really like that I didn't feel mentally challenged in my job. So after a few years of doing that, it was time for me to start looking for something else. And you know, I dabbled around. And a lot of things I thought about doing just what I kind of called normal PR, not music, publicity. I also talked about doing college admissions for some reason, I hopped around to a bunch of different things. And that was when I kind of stumbled upon Code Academy and started teaching myself HTML and CSS. And at first it was just like kind of a game for me, but I really fell in love with it. And then I started talking to some people around town, my cousin happened to be a developer, so I was talking to him and some of his employees. And I was like, Oh, this is like a cool job. That seems really challenging and I could do for a long time. So I ended up looking at my options and deciding to enroll in a boot camp. And that was back in 2016. I enrolled in a front end boot camp and I've been in tech ever since now.

Tim Bourguignon 4:51
Did you remember what what attracted you to this Code Academy? How you found it?

Kara Luton 4:56
So the funny thing is, I think a co worker at the firm I was working out when I was a music publicist had mentioned that she like found Code Academy. It was just like teaching herself some HTML and CSS. And I was like, that sounds like fun. So who knew that someone just casually mentioning a website, they found what kind of changed my my career path.

Tim Bourguignon 5:16
It's always funny when you look back and see where the domino fell and really triggered something, and you never see it while it's happening. But in hindsight, so it's always interesting. What did you start doing? At that point? You said, you mentioned you said, it was like a game for you, you start treating websites, you start creating tools for yourself, do you? What do you do?

Kara Luton 5:38
So at first, with Code Academy, I started teaching myself HTML and CSS, and then a little bit of JavaScript. But at that point, you know, I'd been doing Code Academy probably for like a month on my own. And I was like, I'm going into this full force, I'm figuring out how I can make this my career path. So that's when I ended up enrolling in my front end boot camp. And I can't, I think it was only Gosh, two or three months in between finding Code Academy and then enrolling in my boot camp, because I was just like, so fed up with doing publicity, I was like, I need something new. So it was kind of a whirlwind experience looking back, but I was really lucky to have my parents were really supportive. my now husband, my boyfriend, at the time was very supportive as well. Like, I just laugh about it now turning to them and thinking about how I was just like, Yeah, I'm quitting the job like I did for college and work towards all for college. And I've been doing for the past few years for like, something I know nothing about. And like, it just, I'm lucky that they were so supportive of me. But yeah, I just for some reason, I just dove right in and had no fear.

Tim Bourguignon 6:36
That is awesome. How do you make you make sense of this world? You didn't know that linguae of you didn't know what what is what you didn't know, probably at first, that boot camps exist at all? How do you do double in finding your way.

Kara Luton 6:51
So because of PR, I had to network all the time when I was a publicist, and had to relate to all sorts of different people. Because I'd be talking to clients, I'd be talking to their managers. But most importantly, I had to build these relationships with journalists, who would, in turn, write about my clients. And you know, I was fresh out of college, then I was in my early 20s. And a lot of these journalists were a lot older than me trying to relate to them. But it really taught me really good networking skills. And so that's what I did when I decided I wanted to move into tech is my cousin who's a developer, he connected me with some of his employees. And then when I was kind of researching different ways to learn, and back then there weren't a lot of options for self teaching. And I knew I kind of didn't want to go that route. Because I did online high school, and I just was not that great at it. I had a hard time teaching myself. So that's why I ended up stumbling upon like this boot camp and Nashville. In doing that,

Tim Bourguignon 7:43
would you mind telling us more about the bootcamp, how it was structured, how they curriculum went, how the interaction went, etc.

Kara Luton 7:51
So my program was, I decided to do the front end only route, and it was 12 weeks. So for the first eight weeks, we had class time where we were learning, you know, HTML, CSS, we learned vanilla JavaScript, and then went into you an ember frameworks. And then the last four weeks were kind of our project time, because we had this big demonstration at the end, to invite and we invited, you know, local people that were hiring and to show them our projects. So I mean, 12 weeks is a long time. But it taught us the basics. And really the whole, the biggest thing about our boot camp was they really focused on teaching us how to teach ourselves, which is something that every developer needs, you know, we're constantly learning and there's always new stuff coming out. And so that's kind of what really drew me to that boot camp that and they actually had really small class sizes. My class was only eight people. So we really got a lot of one on one attention, which was really important for me to make sure you know, I'm dedicating my time I quit my full time job to do this. I'm trying to push through this area. So I really want to make sure I'm getting the most out of it that I can

Tim Bourguignon 9:46
Did you have to differentiate yourself from the other seven participants because you follow all the same curriculum for 12 weeks? You cram the whole the same knowledge you probably did the same project, and then you apply to the same Somebody's probably how did that go?

Kara Luton 10:02
Yeah. So it is interesting because you're competing against your classmates for jobs. Plus, in Nashville, there was another boot camp as well. So all we were competing against all their graduating boot camp grads. So for me, it was really nice because I was used to when I was a publicist, you know, I would email journalists who'd get 1000s of emails a day, all asking for the same thing, all saying, hey, I want you to interview my client. And so I had to learn, you know, unique things that would help me stand out in that way. So it really played into the job search for tech, you know, I would actually put together a custom HTML email, when I would apply to these jobs, instead of just sending an email like, hey, my resume is attached, blah, blah, blah, I would have it be this custom email, like looking back, it looked terrible. But it was something that really helped me stand out, I would do it, I'd include like a little bio about myself and link to my projects, my Git Hub, and then I do it on like, the company's color and add their brand logo, just to kind of help me stand out in a little bit of a way. And that email was really why I got the number of interviews I did is, I would always ask, why, why did you choose me from a stack of applicants? Like why did I stand out? And a lot of the time they're like, oh, that email just we hadn't seen somebody do that before. And we wanted to talk to you after that,

Tim Bourguignon 11:20
I see a market opportunity for you in the future, PR for developers. That's really cool. And so how do you decide probably had multiple opportunities? In the end? How did you decide which one you wanted to take him and and start with him,

Kara Luton 11:41
it was hard. So I knew I wanted to be at a company that had a good team, meaning like, I didn't want to be on, I didn't want to be the only developer, I didn't want there to be just a handful, I wanted a good amount of developers that I could learn from various people. And when I was reaching out to a lot of companies, you know, at that time, in 2016, boot camps were a big thing yet, they were really uncommon stellar. So there were a lot of negatives that people held towards bootcamp, graduates, still, I had a lot of people tell me, you know, yeah, you learn this in three months, but like, what do you really know, you're too green. And I was like, Hey, I learned that in three months, guess like, think about what I can do with three months in your company, like I can do just as much. But I didn't want to work with those type of people that kind of put down boot camps or being self taught I, and I didn't want to work with them. So actually had a couple of offers before the one that I ended up accepting. And they were, I would try to leverage, you know, my, my public relations skills. And they, for some reason, just wanted to make it like a blended role of me doing PR and development, which don't go together anyways. And I was like, No, I'm leaving PR behind them not doing that. And they were also smaller companies where I'd be the only developer and I just, I knew I wouldn't grow that way. But I ended up accepting a job at a advertising agency here in Nashville. So I was doing marketing websites for various clients. And I loved it. I learned a lot in those two years that I was there. I was really grateful for for my time there. And then I was there for two years before I came to my current job at CrowdStrike.

Tim Bourguignon 13:18
Before we get there, you said you were searching for a good team searching for team in the in the application process or in the interview process? That's pretty easy. But how do you screen for good team? How do you interview the company to make sure that, that they're not selling you just a group of people working together, but really a team that will accept you for who you are, and really mentor you toward becoming a full fledged developer that that you are right now,

Kara Luton 13:47
the teams are the interviews I had, where I felt like they kind of had a negative view of bootcamp graduates, that was a no go for me. I was like, This is my background, you have to accept it. This is where it came from. The other thing I really look for is, you know, I talk to as much as you're they're interviewing you, you're interviewing them, like you said, and so I'd really asked like, how do you take time for your junior developers to keep growing in their careers? Do you give them opportunities to go to conferences, do you support them in paying for any tutorials they may want to do? Now was really big for me, because I really wanted to keep on learning. I didn't want to become stagnant in my career. And I wanted my workplace to support that for me wanting me to grow because me growing my own skills is only helping them in the long run.

Tim Bourguignon 14:32
How do you you differentiate between what you have to learn and what you want to learn

Kara Luton 14:37
my first job, it was more so trying to be on par with other developers. So trying to level up my JavaScript skills because that was my boot camp. CSS really came naturally to me, which I was really thankful for. I still love CSS to this day. But JavaScript was a lot harder for me because my brain just doesn't think in that way. So it's taken me a long time to grow. Last onto it. So really those first few months at my job, it was trying to really hone my JavaScript skills. I did a lot of tutorials from West boss, his JavaScript 30 course, and which is amazing. You know, there's so many online resources now too, which is great in luckily, Nashville is becoming a bigger tech town. And they have actually several conferences that come through throughout the year. And so I really, I always try to go to those, and network and go to meetups and just meet as many people as I could to keep growing myself,

Tim Bourguignon 15:33
do you have a preferred way of learning preferred medium preferred tempo? And how did you find this and what works for you and maximize that

Kara Luton 15:44
I am a visual learner, so I have to have a video in front of me, I cannot read a tutorial online because I'll like skip everything that's written, I'll just look at the code. And then I confused myself. And it just, it doesn't work. So like I said, like Wes, has videos really helped a lot because he'll he's on camera, you showing his code, and I can pause it and kind of work on what I need, and then pause and see his answer, which really helped. I think the way I kind of learned that was just trying out all the different types of tutorials, you know, there's video tutorials, there's the ones that are just text, there's books, everything. And, you know, I tried everything under the sun to be able to figure out what what was the way I learned best. And I think because my bootcamp, I kind of had an idea that video, or videos, tutorials were how I was learning best. Because at my bootcamp, that's kind of how it was our teacher would get up in front of us, you teach us about a concept, and we'd be coding right alongside with him. So it kind of has that visual to kind of a reading learning type built in, which was great, because I was lucky to find that boot camp and have it be the way I learned.

Tim Bourguignon 16:56
And that's what you get in the in the conferences, and then the user groups you you meet as well. So that's that's maximizing. And definitely if you taking parts of the organization of such events, or why do you, you're nodding just

Kara Luton 17:14
Yeah, so I, you know, when I first got into this, I had no idea what the tech world was like, you know, I walked into it and realize, like, especially women, there's hardly any women in the tech tech industry. And it just confused me why there weren't and so you know, coming from this unconventional path I wanted to show, especially other women that, you know, you can come from being a ballerina, or music publicist or anything and still be successful in the tech world. So while I was at my boot camp, I, myself and one of the other students there, we found out about tech ladies, which is a national organization. And we ended up making a local chapter. So we did those events for a few years. And they were for any women in any area of tech, not just being a developer, tech ladies now does online events. And they're just focusing on those. So we no longer do our tech leaders events. But tech ladies nationally is amazing. And so kind of when that ended, I wanted to help out the community in another way. And there was a group in town called Natural Woman programmers that I've helped out with or not helped to, I'd attended events many times before. And the leader of that group, Lisa, she was about to move to Chicago. And she was looking for somebody to help take over the group. And she asked me, and so now I've been doing that ever since. It's been almost two years now. And it's just for me, it's just being able to give back and seeing people from the meetup group go from just starting to learn about tech to getting their jobs and being successful. It's it's an amazing feeling to know that you've had a tiny part in their career.

Tim Bourguignon 18:56
Yeah, when you look back, that's the only thing you see, you don't remember the projects, you remember the people and you were able to nudge a little bit and then see the eyes sparkle. And you said it's just two years. Was it just before Corona that you took over this district?

Kara Luton 19:10
Yeah, so it was I think I've only been leading we do monthly meetups. So I think I only had like two or three in person events before we added switch to virtual and we've had virtual events ever since. So it was really a unique challenge to kind of switch from being all in person that we're really big on networking. We always had time for networking time before and after finding a platform that would allow us to still have that same feel during during all this during all the COVID and having to be virtual. That's a

Tim Bourguignon 19:41
very good point. How long have you been networking since since we are all in our basement? I mean, I'm in my basement. You don't look like you're in a basement.

Kara Luton 19:50
So for National Women programmers, we actually partnered with national software School, which is another boot camp in the area. And they've been amazing with letting us use Their platform that they use for their own classes. It's called Remo ar e Mo. And it is an awesome platform and you go in and it it's basically like you're there in person. There's virtual tables that you can sit at and like jump from table to table. So it's really helped us during this time, like, still have that networking to where you're hanging out before the meetup actually starts and you're getting to talk to people. Obviously, it's not as great as being in person, but it is a good alternative. But I think otherwise, for me personally, besides just the meetup, it's during COVID. It's been mostly me going on like, I'm really big on Twitter. I like talking about tech a lot. So it's going on there and talking with people participating in different weekly Twitter chats. I know, Dev has one on their practical dev account. And code newbies is another amazing weekly Twitter chat that I talked to talk to people on and it's just a really good way to meet people, especially other developers aren't just from your local area.

Tim Bourguignon 20:57
How was it transition from from in office to remote work for you?

Kara Luton 21:01
Yeah, so it was interesting. So CrowdStrike is actually a remote first company. So they have offices, but so when I first joined CrowdStrike, which was Gosh, March of 2019, I transitioned to being full time remote. So the transition with COVID was actually a lot easier since the company was already had this really big, most of our employees was the employees were already remote. So they already had this remote minded concept, but actually had a really hard time first, when I first got hired at CrowdStrike of transitioning to Terrell, so I was used to going into an office all the time, you know, we were flexible. So we could work from home sometimes, but it wasn't full time. So I actually I didn't like it. At first, I had a really hard time. You know, I'm an introvert naturally, but I liked being at the office and being able to turn around and ask someone a question if I needed to. And being on the more junior side, it was hard. I was like, oh, gosh, I'm gonna feel so isolated. And luckily, CrowdStrike does an amazing job, my team, especially on pairing all the time, if you ever need it. So I've never really felt that way. But just getting into the routine of being at home and not really leaving my house was the hardest challenge. It's My poor husband would come home and I'd be like, let's go get dinner somewhere, let's go out because I just needed to get off the house. So it's taken me a while to set into a routine. But you know, kind of getting up at the same time every morning, getting ready for work, not just sitting around in my sweatpants and sitting at my desk and taking my dogs on for a walk like at lunchtime, just kind of like how would at my normal office, we would always go on walks and stuff. Just trying to make it as normal as possible and separating my work and life. Explique living dry, like when I was in my apartment, I would sit on my couch and it just got was terrible. And now I have my own office, which is really nice because I can kind of shut the door and be like, Okay, now I'm in work mode. And I don't have to think about work on the weekends. And

Tim Bourguignon 22:59
I'm looking at my shiny leather shoes that I'm wearing in my basement. That's that's work. I'm at work right now. In this in this year before Crona hit Did you consider going TO to a co working place. I don't know renting a room with somebody else somewhere else and just have a have a co worker and just get out of your house.

Kara Luton 23:21
Yeah, I did. I was actually looking at right before the lockdown happened. I was looking at an all female co working space here in Nashville, I'd gone and toured it and was getting all of the the membership fees over to my manager to send to her to kind of get approved. Because I was like you know, once or twice a week, it would be really nice to go into an office and just sit and have you know, coworkers that aren't really my coworkers or people around me. And then COVID hit and it's like, oh, that's out the window. Now. I think once everything is kind of settled down a bit more, I may look into it again. Especially now actually one of my co workers from my previous job now works with me at CrowdStrike. So we've talked about, we don't live that far from each other. So we've talked about getting a co working space to just be able to be in person a couple of times a week, because I really do think for me, I think the best thing would be kind of a blend of both in office and remote work. I don't mind being remote all the time. But I really do see the value and still being with your co workers and being face to face with them.

Tim Bourguignon 24:24
That's a discussion I've been having here in Germany very often. I don't know why the the German industry didn't really embrace the remote term. The word year they're using is pretty much working from home. And so discussion we are having right now it's when we go back to to, to after after COVID. It's not working from home or in the office that there's a whole blend of stuff in between. So it's mobility. It's it's choosing where you can work best maybe being at home in the morning because you need some focus time and then when the kids are coming back, then going to the office for a couple hours. Always for meetings and then staying at a cafe. Because there you can have some some some ramp down and really mix and match where you can work best. And then this discussion is only beginning I think it's it's going to develop. Furthermore, I'm really looking forward to that.

Kara Luton 25:15
I think a lot of companies now are realizing like, oh, we can let our workers work somewhere besides the office, and they still get stuff done.

Tim Bourguignon 25:24
And sometimes way more than in the office Yeah. Like the, the goal setting exercise, so it really forces forced leadership to to think with their coworkers and with their their staff. What do we want to achieve? Not how long are you going to stay in front of your computer to what we will do we want to achieve and I'm not going to see you so we're just going to agree on something to deliver at the end of the week, and we'll see how far we go. And this discussion is incredibly useful and really healthy to have I like it. So are you gonna stay in this mode of staying in this company? Do you Is it something you see yourself doing for for for happily ever after, and

Kara Luton 26:06
I do you know, CrowdStrike is, so their cybersecurity company I coming in knew nothing about cybersecurity. But I'm a UX engineer there. So I've learned a lot about that aspect of the industry through working here. Now I've been here for two years, and I adore it i My team is really great and supportive. And my ultimate goal is to eventually be a engineering manager, just because I want to be able to kind of help with the bigger picture at the company and to help my coworkers with their own career path. And so I feel like being an engineering manager would really help be able to help me accomplish those goals of mine of being able to help others even more,

Tim Bourguignon 26:44
how do you envision this path toward becoming an engineering manager for

Kara Luton 26:49
us, we have various levels, you know, we have our engineers, our senior engineers, and then our managers and directors. And when you're at kind of the cusp of being a senior engineer, you can make the decision to kind of go down the manager path, which is the equivalent of being a senior engineer. And you know, from day one of me joining this company, I told them, You know, I really, I want to be on that manager path. So that's kind of what we've always focused on is growing my technical skills to be able to help one day if I am a manager to be able to help on that side as well, and be able to understand what we're doing at our company, and but also growing, you know, my communication skills and how to give feedback and all that. So they've been really good about helping me grow my skills to eventually become a manager

Tim Bourguignon 27:34
does mean you've been working with more junior developers now and starting to to coach and mentor them and act as a as a reference point and such.

Kara Luton 27:42
Yeah, so I've really been working with any helping with onboarding of our new engineers getting them set up their first couple of weeks, I also have an intern for the summer. So that's been really exciting, because this is her first time really diving into engineering. And she's been great with asking questions that she's obviously coded before. But this first I'm really seeing a being at a company and seeing it happen. So that's been really eye opening and seeing how I can best help her and be there to support her in her learning path.

Tim Bourguignon 28:12
Do you have some more bootcamp graduates coming in into the company? And how do you help them to, to ramp up as fast as I can? Yeah, the company,

Kara Luton 28:20
especially my team is really good. A lot of us our boot camp, or self taught devs, which is, I think, amazing that we have so many on our team, because it shows that that's so valuable now, in some of our engineer ones, our boot camp graduates straight from the boot camp, and coming in. So really just helping them out in any way. You know, now we have a large team, I think there's, Gosh, 100 of us UX engineers are getting close to it. So there's so many people to be able to help out and pair with everybody. I think that's the biggest thing honestly, is, especially with me, being a visual learner, I like to be able to pair like being able to review others portal class because that time learning and I'm seeing them do something that's so unique, and I've never seen done before. And I'm like, Oh, I can use this in what I'm working on. So with my intern and with the new engineers, and even myself, trying to set up as many pairing sessions as possible. And working on these problems. And just being able to learn from other engineers, I think is the greatest thing. Indeed.

Tim Bourguignon 29:19
You mentioned the term UX engineer. Is there a difference for you between front end engineer and UX engineer, so not particularly,

Kara Luton 29:25
I think we're just called UX engineers at CrowdStrike. Because we're working on the front end of our product. On my previous job. I was my title was web developer, but I don't know some people say you can't call yourself a software engineer without having a degree in apt to me. It's all kind of the same thing. Like we're all doing the same thing. It's okay. So they're kind of interchangeable for me, UX engineer, front end software web developer,

Tim Bourguignon 29:49
and we're not doing engineering anyway. So do you inquire more into the user experience research doing something be testing user research, maybe some some paper prototypes and retraining those things?

Kara Luton 30:05
Yeah. So the way it kind of works on my team is we have UX researchers, who are the ones, you know, talking to the client saying, This is what we're proposing, what are you thinking or after features get shipped out, they're the ones talking to them. And so it's really collaborative between us, our designers, we have writers as well, that are doing all the copy and release notes and everything like that. So it's a really collaborative environment of all of us working together and saying, you know, if I noticed something that I don't think would be a good kind of flow for the for the users, you know, I can talk to the designer, they can give me their feedback on kind of interactivity on the app, it's, it's been really neat seeing that, especially coming from an advertising agency where it was rebuilding these websites to sell things. So it was like, accessibility wasn't a huge thing on our radar, which is so sad. And now it's like accessibility is at the forefront of what we do at CrowdStrike. You know, we have to make this accessible. So thinking about making the platform available for anybody who wants to use it, just seeing the differences. And it's just, it's really interesting, you know, especially at the advertising agency, we did great work, but a lot of it was, you know, the customer wants it this way. So this is how we're going to do it. Whereas like here, it's okay, let's think about our user and the best thing we can do for them, and how to make this the best experience for them.

Tim Bourguignon 31:24
This is amazing what it really works. This is what was meant by agility is really putting all the people together that needs to be there, just give them a direction and let the magic happen. And sounds like you have a great, a great nest there to actually do this very cool. How does the role of the engineering manager plays with this team that you just described? Is it is it like metrics organization, you're your kind of manager? And then you have some some teams pulled up together to form a project? Or are you as a manager, the manager of this team with all the different skill sets in there?

Kara Luton 32:01
Yeah, so we used to be one large UX team with, you know, designers and researchers, and everybody. And now we're kind of split up into different areas of the product. So we can kind of have a more expert knowledge on different areas. So we know like, hey, we see something going wrong in this area of the app, oh, I can talk to so and so because they've been working in that for the past, like year or whatever. So we're doing it that way. So my manager is also working in my area of the app. And she is kind of the bigger picture person, she's seeing what projects are coming down online, and how to assign people to those who can do what, who would be the best at what, and then also helping me with my career path, doing weekly one on ones and all my reviews and helping me just grow myself as a developer as well, which is really nice to be able to have that that structure of I know who to go to when I need feedback. And I'm getting feedback constantly, you know, I thrive on that, especially being a dancer, like, we got feedback all the time, that was how I improve my dancing. So I'm like, I have to have that feedback. So I know if I'm doing something wrong, or I'm doing something, right, either way,

Tim Bourguignon 33:05
what happens if you don't get that feedback. So my last job, I didn't

Kara Luton 33:09
get that feedback very often. And it was hard, you know, I, I want to be able to grow as a developer, if I'm doing something wrong, I want you to say, hey, no this, this, here's a better way to look at it. Or I think this would be better for the user better, whatever. And getting that feedback people, they gotta remember that it's not to be taken personally, you want to be able to have a thick skin and take this feedback. So you can get to be a better developer, if people are telling you like on pull requests or anything, just suggesting different ways of doing stuff, just because they're not trying to be negative about the way you need something, they're just trying to make it to make it veteran to see your different options. Because there's no one way to do anything and development. There's so many different ways. So whenever somebody comes at me with like a suggestion, I'll look at it or maybe explain why I decided to go to do what I did instead, and really take it into consideration, but also learn from it too, because like I said that everybody does something a different way. And seeing somebody, the way they look at something can help me grow and learn and apply it to something else in the future. You need

Tim Bourguignon 34:15
to have a deep foundation of trust to be able to say things the way they are and, and bridge communication and, and not misunderstand every other word. But when you have that, then you can really have this feedback culture, I will share all the views and why did you do it this way? And why did you choose this path? And did you consider this option and you don't feel attacked by these comments? That's a very good place to be. Do you have an idea how your manager fostered this trust in in your team so that you're able to do that? So I think it

Kara Luton 34:49
all started from when the team was smaller even before me it seems like they've really established having this, you know, wanting their developers to grow up A lot of our UX engineers, I can't speak for the other teams, but I'm sure it's the same have been here for several years. And there's it's not uncommon to have engineers that have been here for five years. And I think that's really unique in the tech world, you don't really see that that often. So it really shows like how much the team has grown and how people have progressed from being a junior engineer, to a senior engineer to a principal engineer, things like that. So I really think it, it all starts from the top, you know, our director is really big on being able to take the time and go to conferences and learn whatever you need to. And even with your mental health, like, if you're having a bad day, if you're anxious, like saying, hey, you know, I'm not feeling up to it today, I need to take a mental health day and everybody's so supportive, which I think is just another part of it is them being supportive, that just makes me want to do my best for the company, knowing that they're supportive of me when I need to take like a daily for anxiety, or whatever

Tim Bourguignon 35:58
you good to hear is definitely not something you use too often.

Kara Luton 36:01
No, I was very lucky to find this job. And I found it on Twitter of all things. So I didn't even know about it before, before I applied.

Tim Bourguignon 36:10
Did you all this, when you apply at the point that point in time when you apply? Did you know all this, that this culture was so great that did you expect all of this,

Kara Luton 36:20
I got an idea that during my interview, everybody was great that I talked to and I was really excited for the opportunity to kind of learn a lot more than what I was doing before at my previous job. And I think in the just past few years, I've I've really looked back and realized how lucky I was to stumble upon a team that is so big on encouraging our junior engineers and wanting people to cry to grow in their own careers and pairing and everything because like he said that that's really hard to come by unfortunately, I really wish more teams were as supportive of their junior engineers as as this one is definitely.

Tim Bourguignon 36:55
You mentioned being part of this woman groups or the tech lady tech ladies in Nashville, woman performance, anything. How was it the diversity in this company? Are you pushing for more, inhale,

Kara Luton 37:08
feel like there can always be more diversity, especially diversity isn't just getting more women on your team. It's getting people of color. It's being open to any like trans individuals, anybody that wants to join your team. CrowdStrike does have a diversity and inclusion initiative, which I think is amazing. You know, we're celebrating pride month right now, at the company. I think it's just really, really important. One nice thing is we all have our pronouns on our Slack profile. So you know, like, I go by she and her, somebody else may go by they, and everybody's really supportive of that, which I think is really big, because you don't want to be you want someone's work environment to be as positive and uplifting as possible. And if using the right pronoun they use day. Yeah, and when I use that for them, like why not. So it's really nice that the company is really big on that it's the women's groups especially, we are so welcoming to anybody that wants to attend our meetup. We have a it's not just women that attend. I've never turned away anybody I'm like, You're not a girl you can't come in. But just a place for people to meet that may not either meet up to me when we walk in and and being one of a handful women and knowing that there's a spot you can go to where people are from your same background and going through this and someone you can relate to is it's a nice thing to have.

Tim Bourguignon 38:31
I had a guest a few months ago who had this experience in Brazil, I think it was went to a meet up with the only woman there and never went back. And then had the experience of 1010 guys of the meetup hunting her to say, hey, come back, we need to change. So tell us what we need to change. We need to do something else and intrude rollover of the Python community in Brazil to include more women, more women in everything. That's fantastic. Yeah, story. Gosh, why can't I remember her name? And you know as soon as I hit Stop, no, that's, that's, that's really cool. And it's always important to hear it. So as a white male, cisgendered 30 years old, something, I need to hear that what I can do, that I can do that I can play a role and being more inclusive, and not just for women, for women for for also people with disabilities, etc. Speaking of disabilities, how does that play a role in your UX? Team?

Kara Luton 39:34
Yeah, so accessibility is a big thing. We have an accessibility engineer, and there are the person that we go to for all things. And we're working, you know, because we work with government contracts and a bunch of different things. We want to make sure our product is as accessible as possible. And you know, it's really hard for a developer to have, you know, all their knowledge of JavaScript and everything and all also accessibility. So it's nice to be able to have someone whose sole focus is accessibility and we work in tandem with them to make sure that everything is up to par, and that it's navigable by your keyboard or screen reader, anything that that we need to happen. So it's, it's been really cool to be at a company where that's at the forefront and really important in our development,

Tim Bourguignon 40:22
it sounds just rainbows and unicorns this cannot be

Kara Luton 40:27
everybody apply for a job at CloudStrike

Tim Bourguignon 40:31
And you are remove first, people just apply, come!

Kara Luton 40:36
if you want to work in office well once COVID settles down, but yeah, remote first. Okay.

Tim Bourguignon 40:42
Is there any advice that you would have maybe beneficiated, from at the beginning of your transition from from, from your PR career into a tech career? Is it something, you said, hey, if I had known this, that would have helped me,

Kara Luton 40:56
I think the biggest thing for me was, I'm a perfectionist. So I was like, I'm competing against these people who now stop searching I've been coding for for a long time, you know, it wasn't uncommon for me to talk to somebody and they're like, oh, yeah, I've been coding since I was in middle school. And I'm like, that's great. I just started a few months ago. And so for me, it was, you're not going to be the advice I'd give myself as you're not going to be the best developer out there after your boot camp, or even a few years after boot camp is just like what I did with ballet, you know, ballet, even when you're a professional, you take a technique class, every single day, you're doing the basics, and you're building on those and practicing those. So you can keep building up and building your skill level. And it's the same thing as a developer. Like, you don't do the tutorial and become amazing developer overnight, as much as I wish I was true. So it's still it's really taught me to have patience with myself. You know, when I am feeling that imposter syndrome, I tend to take a step back and look at how far I've come. And that I couldn't do even when it came to CrowdStrike. I was still struggling a lot with JavaScript, and just seeing how far I've come and not. It's just amazing to look back on. So I'm really just telling myself when I first started out, I would have loved to hear that, you know, this is going to be hard, but you can do it. It's going to take a while but keep practicing and keep going at it and it'll get better. Awesome.

Tim Bourguignon 42:17
I would love love. Love to hear that as well. Where would be the best place to to find you online and continue this discussion with you. Yeah, so

Kara Luton 42:28
you can find me on my website. It's just KaraLuton.com. And then you can also find me on Twitter. My handle is also Kara Luton.

Tim Bourguignon 42:38
I'll link both those links in the show notes. Anything on your plate anything timely or not timely that you want to plug in?

Kara Luton 42:45
No, nothing big right now. I'm just kind of work in and I'm trying to get back onto I used to post articles a lot more often about like basics of JavaScript and stuff. So hopefully, gonna get back on that. Now that kind of things are settling down with the pandemic. But yeah, so be on the lookout for those.

Tim Bourguignon 43:05
And we will. Kara, thank you very, very much. Yeah, thank you. This was great. And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other next week. I hope you have enjoyed Kara's story as much as I did. I love those second career journeys. What I particularly liked was how Kara leveraged her public relations background to stand out after her boot camp. Boot Camp graduates have only a few weeks of experience in programming. But we are often too quick to forget that they are bringing the full power of a different career with them. What do you take out of this story? Let me know. I'm always delighted by your comments and your thoughts. You can reach me on Twitter at @timothep, or use the comments section on our website at Devjourney.info. Boy would have needed to

hear her advice:
"It's going to be hard, but you can do it. It's going to take a while. Keep practicing and keep going at it and it will get better." And I am sure you know someone who should hear that too. How about sending them this episode? And as always, if you like what we do, please share rate and review. Thank you talk to you soon