Katherine Lewis: 0:00
I felt insecure. I felt like, if I don't know all of the things, I'm not going to be a good engineer. And that was completely false. And I had a beautiful manager at LinkedIn who told me just focus and get good at one thing. And I was like okay, I have to accept this. I have to recognize that you're not telling me something incorrect, you're not leading me down a bad path. I need to listen to this, and that's something that I would tell any young budding engineer is pick one language and get really good at that, because if you get hired at another company or you get on a different project that requires you to learn another language, they're going to give you the time and space to learn it. So you're okay, it is okay, right, and I'll throw in a bonus tip and this is because of what I care about, but also, it is so, so important is please write accessible code, please, please, please. That's my other piece.

Tim Bourguignon: 0:58
Hello and welcome to developers journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm a host team On this episode. I receive Catherine Lewis. Catherine is an entrepreneur, a software engineer working in accessibility at LinkedIn, a fellow podcast host creating the opportunity made podcast, and she runs the Leon Foundation of Excellence, a program helping youth heal inter generational patterns of trauma. Catherine, a warm welcome to the journey.

Katherine Lewis: 1:32
Thank you for having me.

Tim Bourguignon: 1:33
Oh, it's my pleasure. It's my 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 day 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 journeyinfo 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 guests. Catherine, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So, as usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your step journey?

Katherine Lewis: 2:25
I would say that my development journey started a long time ago, even though I've only been an engineer for four years now. When I was younger and in high school I was someone who wasn't excelling very well in math or science. It was something that I thought in a very stereotypical fashion as a woman I wouldn't be good at. I fell into that trap, and so my dad was an engineer, my grandmother was a saleswoman in tech and my grandfather was an inventor. He created some of the first digitizers and plotters. So I had a very science and engineering based family and I was very inspired by them. But I completely wrote that off as a career path for myself, so I would say that it started there, even though that sounds like the antithesis. Moving forward, I knew that I needed to pursue a route that was more focused on humanities, on business, and my heart really wanted something that put me in a position where I could help people, and so I got a business degree and then became a teacher with Teach for America, and it was only through that experience that I was brought back to engineering. So as a teacher, I had summers off, and there's a wonderful nonprofit called Code with Clossey, where they bring in people from Teach for America to teach high school students how to program, and so I knew nothing about it. I thought this is totally out of my wheelhouse. However, I love learning and I figured that I could figure it out, and so I signed up and we went through a weekend boot camp and then had to figure out the rest on our own. So I stayed up late that summer to learn about a frame and react and JavaScript and all the things. And it was through that experience going around that summer and the following one teaching two week camps across the United States, that I realized this is a ton of fun and I really love engineering, and so I went back to the same organization that we did that weekend boot camp with, which was the Turing School of Software and Design. It was in my hometown, and so I signed up for that following year and went through that program for the next nine months learning how to do front end engineering, and then the rest is kind of history from there, but it was beautiful to discover that this thing I thought I couldn't do I actually was pretty good at.

Tim Bourguignon: 5:17
Oh, this is a lovely story. I mean, it's hard to hear that stereotypical ideas led you away from it at first, but it's a lovely story. Coming back to it, I'd love to go a bit more into this. This preparation time for this, summer camps. Did you do summer camps? How did you approach this field? That was completely new to you? In this, two days boot camp or weekend boot camp, or something like this?

Katherine Lewis: 5:50
Yeah. So we had just a couple of days with this school, so with Turing, and they taught us the beginnings of programming. And then we were let free and so we had I know it's kind of crazy thinking about it but we had curriculum that was already created for us and we just had to review it, look through it, try and understand it. But everyone knows, when you are going to teach something, you better understand it and, conversely, when you teach something, it helps you better understand it. And so through that process of preparing for these boot camps, it was looking through all of the lesson plans, trying the projects myself, watching videos on YouTube, talking with my other colleagues who were going to be teaching with me, and just slowly, step by step, learning one thing after the next, taking notes, trying things out. So there's definitely many moments when you're learning on the fly and you're sitting right next to those students in that summer camp saying, I don't know, let's figure it out Right. So there's a bit of vulnerability that came with it too, where you need to be up front in saying I'm new to this as well, and so we're going to walk through it together. And then there's another piece. That's a lot of preparation. You're staying up late, you're getting up early to go through the lessons and prepare, and by doing that camp again and again over time you solidify that knowledge and you really feel like you know what you're teaching and you are more of an expert on the subject than when you first started. But it was definitely a lot of floundering, a lot of trial and error, a lot of work, a lot of hours, but that's how we learn something right.

Tim Bourguignon: 7:46
It is. Indeed, we say, well, I don't know either, let's figure it out. I mean, I've done my first share of this, but at least I had all the the background of debugging and really finding out all the tools. I knew all them by art, and so something happens that I can't explain right now, but I have the foundational knowledge to go at it and figure it out. I couldn't imagine doing well, I have no idea. I have no idea where to start. I have no idea about all those tools, but let's figure it out. Ouch, that is scary. Here we go.

Katherine Lewis: 8:20
Yeah, it is scary, but there was, beautifully enough, a sense of confidence that I could figure it out, and I think that comes from my background. I have invested in so many different areas, I have degrees in a lot of different things, and that's not to toot my own horn, but life is so interesting and so there are so many different subjects. I love to study people, I love to talk to. You can see that in the podcast that I host, where it's just fascinating to chat with people and hear the details of their lives and what are they interested in, and then I become interested because they're interested right. So by having this diverse background where things are fascinating, and I know that given enough time I can figure something out, it wasn't so scary to me to take this on.

Tim Bourguignon: 9:15
That matches the picture I have of you, but still I would be scared. So you did this for two summers, did I get that correctly? Yeah, that was the same curriculum, or? After a summer you had to redo it and start from, not scratch, but with different curriculum again.

Katherine Lewis: 9:35
So there were different levels to the summer camp. So there were lessons for those who are completely new to coding coming in fresh, and then we have a couple levels up. So, as I did more camps, I would work on the different levels. So the first one was kind of an intro HTML, css, javascript and then the second summer I was working more with React and A-frame and so I got to progress, I guess, in my development through the camps that I was doing over the course of two years.

Tim Bourguignon: 10:09
OK. When you chose to quit teaching high school, was that high school?

Katherine Lewis: 10:20
So the summer camp was high school, and then I was teaching second and third grade.

Tim Bourguignon: 10:24
Ok, so when you decided to quit teaching second and third grade because I'm sure you're still teaching nowadays, but not second and third grade anymore. We decided to quit. How did you evaluate your options and decide on how to embrace this software engineering life?

Katherine Lewis: 11:49
Yeah, so there's a couple of nuances. At the time I had done these summer camps and I absolutely knew that I loved programming. I loved learning. That's the other thing about coding is you're able to explore this whole world that is never ending. There's so much to learn about programming, and so that was another piece that I truly, truly loved is just the depth of what there is to learn about, and tech moves so fast, it's always changing. You have to be learning in order to have that job security. So just mentioning that, that was another piece I loved about it. But as a teacher, I actually ran into a bunch of health issues and I had to leave the classroom, and so it was during that time period where I knew that I couldn't teach but I didn't know what was coming next, that I was reflecting and thinking about, well, what do I enjoy? And decided to apply for the boot camp and that that would be a good amount of time as well for my body to heal, and so it. It was this culmination of I needed time to recuperate. I was pretty burnt out and, having these health issues, I also knew that I loved coding and I knew that there was a lot of potential in that career field, so I wasn't moving into something that lacked opportunity. There's plenty of opportunity in tech.

Tim Bourguignon: 13:20
Indeed, indeed. Okay, and that answers my next question. This nine month period is not so common. I see it quite shorter or a bit longer, but nine months. There was a bit surprising, but that makes sense if that was that was needed.

Katherine Lewis: 13:36
On another aspect of your life, yeah, so the I can dive deeper into that. The boot camp is six months, and so it's six months long and that is a longer time period for most boot camps, but they go so in depth. I love the program so much. They are very, very thorough and it's four modules over the course of six months. Now mine ended up being nine months because there was a module in there that I failed, I didn't pass and so I had to repeat it and it's for a variety of reasons. Didn't grasp the content. I also had a family member who was sick at the time and I was working three jobs, and so it was a very intense period where I was not mentally able to focus as much as I wanted. But it was beautiful because I got to repeat the module and the content really sunk in, which was great because it was in React, and then I ended up using React, and still use React in my current job, and so I got to know the material well and then continue with that language later on in my profession. So it is longer because of that reason.

Tim Bourguignon: 14:45
Okay, okay, but still. Six months is still longer than the usual bootcrab.

Katherine Lewis: 14:50
Yeah, yeah, it is.

Tim Bourguignon: 14:51
Okay, how did you approach your first job entering this new industry?

Katherine Lewis: 14:57
So there are a couple of tips that I love to share with people. So hopefully your audience will find this valuable and it'll be a bit longer of a story, but I knew that it was going to take a lot of work to get a position. So the reason why I had that thought some of it was from a lack of confidence in myself, but some of it was looking at other people's stories and journeys and just seeing that it took a couple months before they were finding a position. And so, as I mentioned before, we had four modules. I started looking for a position in module two, which is a bit uncommon. Usually in module three or module four is when you start going through practice interviews, getting your resume ready, applying all of that stuff. I started throwing out a bunch of applications in module two because I wanted to see what was out there. I wanted to prime my eyes and start knowing what my options were and reading through job descriptions and seeing how what the market was looking for matched what I was going to be able to bring to the table. I also wanted to get a bunch of applications out there to see what was the response rate. I wanted to test what is it like to just throw your application online and see how people will respond? I wanted to know am I able to go that route, or do I really need to build relationships in order to find my next play? The other piece of it is if, by chance, anyone was interested and I could have an interview, I figured I wouldn't get a job. I didn't know enough at that point, but I would be able to practice interviews and start getting a sense for that, and I wanted a really long amount of time, compared to what they were asking us to do, to be able to figure that out. Moving into mod three, as I mentioned, I repeated that. So that was a decent time period in which I started doing practice interviews and they the school itself provided a list of alumni who were interested in doing practice interviews, so I sourced that, reached out to a bunch of people and then, on the weekends, would just run through a bunch of interviews, and this was practicing projects. So here's a prompt and I want you to build a prototype of what this application would be like. It's also running through functions, you know all different kinds of things in order to practice those interviews. Then, from there, I'm at the end of module three, I'm getting a better sense for what is it going to be like to interview and I start jumping online to different Slack communities. So there were developer communities that would post jobs online. They would have meetups, things like that. So I started just putting my feelers out and saying, hey, I might be interested in this. You know, are you willing to take on a junior developer? I would go to meetups and sit with people in coffee shops and code with them and they would realize that I'm a new developer and they'd say, hey, please apply to my company. So I started getting these opportunities from these smaller microcosms. I really didn't get too much from applying online, which is what I wanted to find out, so it was good information. It was through that process that I had three opportunities and I was interviewing for those three different companies. They were very, very slow in their uptake process, and so it ended up being towards the end of mod four that I was still in the first couple rounds of interviews. They were all looking good like. They were all very interested, but I had one company that came back to me and offered me a position, and so I ended the process with the other two and I started at a startup. It was local and it was focused on. There were two different startups, but one in particular was focused on dating and matchmaking and that kind of thing, and so I was working with them a bit and I was working with them on the same thing and I was working with them on the same thing, and that lasted for six weeks actually, because, if we roll back when I was still in mod four, I found the Reach apprenticeship and that is coming from LinkedIn, and so it's their opportunity for junior developers to come in as an apprentice and, without a computer science degree, learn how to become an engineer, and so that was actually the one fruitful application online, and so I applied to that, didn't hear anything and then took this startup job and they reached out for a phone interview and then we proceeded in the process. I got an interview on campus and then heard that I got the position, and so it was devastating to me to do this, but at the same time, I wanted LinkedIn so bad, so I went to that startup and I said, hey, thank you so much for investing in me. I am so sorry and I am going to exit this position and move to California and take a different one. And so I proceeded with LinkedIn. And that was I mean. I was crying literally as I was saying this, because I was like I do not want to be this kind of person and at the same time, this is the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm not saying no to it. So I know this is selfish, I'm going to be selfish and I am saying yes to this, and so that led into four years of being at LinkedIn and still there now moving on from the apprenticeship into being a software engineer and so on and so forth, having lots of different opportunities there.

Tim Bourguignon: 20:45
Wow, that's a nice story actually. Thank you, and this highlights something that I've seen again and again, which is people coming to our industry with a second degree or third degree or second career or third career approach things much differently than the others, and the very thorough approach that you followed. I want to see what's out there. I want to see how the companies respond. I want to see what works and what doesn't. I want to see X, I want to see Y. This is not what a 22 year old would do, and I love it. I love it. This is really highlighting what I like about this diversity. This is fantastic. You mentioned in passing. Do I need to expand my networks? This is one of the things you wanted to find out. Did you find the answer to this?

Katherine Lewis: 21:37
Yeah, so yes and no. It's very interesting because, in order to get the first couple of interviews and then that first position, it was all about who I knew, and I will say that I had some incredible mentors as well who were doing those interviews with me, and they both referred me to their companies as well, and I started out with a first interview for one of those companies. The other one was going to take a little bit longer as well, and just the way that the timing matched up, I took that startup position, so I had four companies where I was in process in some kind of way, and then that fifth one that offered me a position, and so that made a huge difference. I had five potential options because of the network and, at the end of the day, I took the position that was from an online application. So you could say does it matter, does it not? What I will say most is is yes, having a strong network, having relationships, is all about people. That matters immensely, especially nowadays. So, a couple of years later, where AI is doing that first screen, if you know somebody and they can put the piece of paper on someone else's desk, that is a huge difference versus trying to apply online, but I won't say that those online applications don't work, because that's how I got my position. So that's why I would just go for both, but definitely have a strong network.

Tim Bourguignon: 23:08
Do you still work on your networks nowadays? Yes, now that you're not applying.

Katherine Lewis: 23:12
Yes, absolutely Well, and for different reasons. I'll say it's always good to keep your network warm, but never do it from a place of what can I get from these other people? Right? That's never the right approach and people can sense that. You've got to have a heart where you truly care about others. You want to know how they're doing. You want to see if you can help them out and contribute. For me, I love expanding my network because that's more people that I get to talk to on the podcast. I get to learn about who they are and where they're coming from. There's this lesson that I learned a little bit ago. This is a bit of a tangent, but I was in a grocery store and I was talking on the phone. I was being one of those people where I'm checking out and I'm on the phone and I realized just how rude I was being the cashier, the woman. She had said hello and I just gave her a nod. Then I realized how rude I was being. So I hung up, told the person on the other side that I needed to go and I just looked at her. I said hey, Laura, how are you doing? We just had a moment of intense eye contact and she felt seen. Her energy, which has been super low, automatically picked up and she's like I'm doing so good and she just starts moving everything across the line faster. She's looking at the people behind me seeing how they're doing. Then I have this box of cornbread and she tells me if I add sour cream to it that it would make it better. She's just giving all this information and she's got this pepper in her step. At the end I say Laura, have a great day. And she goes you too, darling. So she's a total different person. I learned in that moment how much of a unique opportunity it is for us to meet anyone in this world. There's 8 billion people in this world, and the fact that you and I are having this conversation is a blessing. It's a unique opportunity. The fact that I got to meet her and see her and have this impact on her state, just because she felt seen, was a privilege. It was so beautiful, and so for me, I love expanding my network and I love keeping it warm, because I care so much about people and I know what a unique privilege it is to be connected to anyone.

Tim Bourguignon: 25:38
It is a need. You mentioned mentoring. That's a segue into this as well. So you mentioned you had incredible mentors. Are you still in contact with them? Obviously, I would say yes. Have you found new mentors since?

Katherine Lewis: 25:54
Yeah, so still in contact with my current mentors. In fact, one of them, we joined a hackathon team and we worked on a project together with a couple other folks and we won regionals and then we took it all the way to nationals and won that as well. So there is like a lot of fun things that you can also do with your mentors. But since coming to LinkedIn, I've also had many other mentors. I've had the privilege of going through LinkedIn's accessibility champions program, where you learn how to become an accessibility champion. So you're understanding what does it take to develop code that is accessible? And through that program I received a mentor. I did hackathons at work. We host hackathons and through that I was on a project with someone who months later came back and said I see so much potential in you, will you let me be your mentor? Can I guide you? Which is a true, true honor to have someone do that. So I have them as a mentor. I was assigned a mentor through the Reach program as well, and then I think it's just beautiful to start making connections and, when you really vibe with someone, ask them for help. That's what mentorship is is you connect with someone and you appreciate their wisdom and you're willing to ask them questions. So it doesn't have to be anything official, it's just people that you respect and having that conversation. So, yes, I've been very fortunate in having a lot of mentors.

Tim Bourguignon: 27:29
Amen to that and actually in my experience, putting the word mentor in it sometimes screwed the pooch. Sometimes, really, you have a very and you're nodding right now For the listeners who cannot see you. You're having a great, a great synergy with someone and as soon as you put this word on it, it makes it official and this is scary, and sometimes just being there and listening and helping and that's all you need.

Katherine Lewis: 27:57
Yeah, exactly, I agree with you because, especially when people keep it in that context and they think, oh, I'm going to go get a mentor, where can I find a mentor? I need some kind of program where it can siphon me off to some official mentor. It's like, no, that's, that's, as you were saying, just too official. Just find somebody at work who you respect and ask them to get coffee, and there you're being mentored. Even if it only lasts for 30 minutes, even if it's not this official long term relationship, you've been mentored.

Tim Bourguignon: 28:32
Indeed, indeed. You mentioned being assigned mentor, meaning you were a mentor for somebody from the reach program.

Katherine Lewis: 28:41
So I was assigned one, so someone became a mentor for me.

Tim Bourguignon: 28:45
Okay, have you? Have you tried really being a mentor? I would say willingly, not just, not just by accident, but willingly trying to find someone.

Katherine Lewis: 28:57
For me to mentor.

Tim Bourguignon: 28:58

Katherine Lewis: 28:59
Yeah, so once I went through the accessibility champions program, then you graduate, so to speak, and after that you have the opportunity to become a mentor for others. So I have a clan of about five folks, fellow employees, who've also gone through the program, and then I had the pleasure of being their mentor, and so it's fun about that is you start out with one and then you have two, and then now you've got this whole group and you get to connect them to each other. So now they get to rely on each other, and so I do less mentoring and it's more of just facilitating and bringing them together and they reach out to each other quite a bit for help.

Tim Bourguignon: 29:39
Yeah, that's something I've seen quite a bit as well. You start by mentoring someone one person, and then you connect two, and then you connect three, and then you connect four and that's it. You realize you have so many people in your life that you've been guiding or somehow nudging in a direction. Not sure we can call them mentees or if we should, but this is our people you've been helping, and there's a whole bunch of them. Yeah, and it feels so great, yeah, yes, so you mentioned that this REACH program. Could you tell us about how that was structured?

Katherine Lewis: 30:14
Yeah, so again, as I mentioned, it's for folks who don't have a computer science degree and they can either be self-taught or they went through a boot camp. But they have the skills to a decent level. But what they have more of is the willingness and capability to learn right, and I can be careful with the word capability Everyone's capable of learning. I think it's more on the willingness side. Where you are hungry, you will go after it, you will ask questions, you will turn to your resources, you'll do whatever it takes to figure it out, and so a lot of it is character-based in that way. Right, do you have the character to keep learning? Are you teachable, are you coachable? And so it was about 400 applicants and they took 17 of us, and yeah, Wow. And I think now it's up to maybe 700 or 1,000 and they're still taking about 20 folks or so. Don't quote me on those numbers, but it's pretty competitive. So you come in and you join a cohort and so you're onboarded to the company. You get someone else who was a Reach Apprentice to be your buddy, so they'll have lunch with you, they'll answer your questions, those kinds of things, and then you get assigned to a different team. So organizations managers can say, yeah, we'd love to take on a Reach Apprentice, and they know that you're gonna need a little bit more guidance, you're gonna need a little bit more help, but they have capacity and are willing to do that. And then they grow you over the years and so it's anywhere from a year to two years that you'll stay an apprentice and then you're promoted to software engineer and then you just keep going from there and it depends on what you're wanting to focus on. We have, I think, machine learning back end and front end, and so people will come in with these different specialties and then they continue to specialize in that area and you are with that cohort going through programming for the first six months and then it's kind of like on your own. If you all wanna socialize and pull yourselves together, you can, but you've left the program officially. And the other really cool piece is you have 20 to 25% of your work time to focus on whatever you want. If you wanna learn another language, if you wanna dive deeper into what you're currently specializing in, you can, but it's free time to explore whatever you like. One so you can get to know what you do like, but two so you just develop more skills. And it's so amazing that the managers protect this time and allow us to learn, because there's a lot of work that needs to be done and so it's very generous of them, but it's a beautiful experience that helps you get your footing.

Tim Bourguignon: 33:13
It sounds very thorough indeed. How did you end up in diversity or working in diversity or accessibility?

Katherine Lewis: 33:22
sorry, yeah, so you're actually spot on with both of those. There are a couple other roles that I have at LinkedIn. One is as an accessibility champion, where I am working with teams to make sure that the products they're developing are accessible. There's a whole backstory to that, so I'll go through it and then I can jump over to the diversity piece. When I was in the bootcamp in that last module, I had a family member who was sick and they lost a lot of functionality, so there were a lot of things that they couldn't do. It was hard for them to text, it was hard for them to write, it was hard for them to remember things, and we had to develop an application as our final project. So, closing out that bootcamp, I created this speech to text application and it would allow people to vocalize hey, can you pick up the groceries, can you do the laundry, whatever it is, and it would create this to-do list based on speech to text, and then that would be sent to the receiver, the caretaker, and they would be able to do those tasks and it would notify the other person. So sometimes we would have difficulty where, because I was working so much and because I was in school, I wasn't always able to communicate when things got done, and so it was through this application that I could just check it off and instantly, if I forgot to communicate that it was done, they still saw that it was done, and they were able to communicate what they needed to have through speech. And so that put me in this world of accessibility and understanding. How do you develop accessible applications and just caring about it in general, from a physical sense as well? And the kind of disability that they had was temporary. They were able to heal and move on from that. There's situational disabilities, there's permanent disabilities, and my mind was just primed to be thinking about this. So when I went to LinkedIn, I started asking questions what are we doing for accessibility, not knowing that there was this whole world, this whole legal department, all these things that they had to do? I had no idea, but I got to meet all of these folks and I got integrated in a bunch of different ways and realized just how important this is and how many engineers don't know about it. They're not being trained to develop accessible code and in the end, it costs companies, depending on their size, millions of dollars, whether it's through lawsuits, legal fees or just having to go back at the end of developing a product and say, okay, now we'll test it for accessibility. Oh, my goodness, we have hundreds of bugs. This is gonna take thousands of hours and that's a lot of money when you're paying people to do that, versus developing something that's accessible at the very beginning. It's so easy. It makes your designs better. There's no I'm gonna say this carefully, like there's no wrong way of doing it from the perspective that a lot of engineers are nervous. They're gonna try and make something accessible and make it more inaccessible. Just get started, just do it. You'll learn along the way. People are pretty forgiving. At least you're trying, and because you'll learn along the way, you'll figure out the right way to create an accessible product. So that just created this whole beautiful side piece to my career at LinkedIn, where I got to get super involved and then, real quick, I'll jump over. You were mentioning diversity and that whole side of the house. So we have a lot of work that we do in terms of dibs and making sure that we have really strong culture. I am an ERG some employee resource group global partnership leader, which means that I work with different nonprofits across the world different organizations, internally, externally, to make sure that we are forming strong partnerships for our employees at LinkedIn who have disabilities or who are allies. So maybe they have a family member or a child that has a disability, and how do we provide them the resources they need so they can develop as a parent or as an employee or whatever the situation may be? So that's a whole other side to my work that I absolutely love as well.

Tim Bourguignon: 37:53
And seeing your smile while you're telling those two stories. Thank God you took this opportunity and not stayed at the start of. I mean, we never know what would ever happen, but your smile is really tally.

Katherine Lewis: 38:07
Well, thank you. Yeah, linkedin has been absolutely incredible the culture and the opportunities, and they've just been very gracious with me to allow me to take on these additional roles and everything has been super fulfilling, so I'm grateful.

Tim Bourguignon: 38:21
Looks like it. So more software engineering, more diversity, more accessibility in your future. Do you want to add anything to that list? Is there something on your back list?

Katherine Lewis: 38:33
That's a long, long list already. Yeah, absolutely Just continuing with all of those things. And we've got more plans in the works, more partnerships, that we're creating, all these kinds of things, which is really exciting. You know, I'm always pulling accessibility into the engineering work that I'm doing and educating other teams. I've got a call later on to do the same thing and start helping out other suppliers, all this kind of stuff. So it's just ramping up, which is fun. In terms of other things, I'm starting to add author to the list and hopefully, more keynote speaker opportunities. I love talking to folks and I love sharing whatever I've learned, even if it's the failures and the mistakes, and I think we all benefit when we share life stories. I know that you value that too. That's why this podcast exists. So doing more speaking, doing more writing, is something else I'm investing in.

Tim Bourguignon: 39:34
You put a finger in there and your arm is going to go. I'll tell you that, but I guess it's in your adventure. That's a really cool one, fantastic, fantastic. Is there an advice that you have been giving your mentees, your cohort of mentees of the REACH program, again and again and again and you would like to share here on the show?

Katherine Lewis: 39:56
When I first started out with REACH, I mentioned we had that 20% time to explore anything and I stressed out what should I be focusing on? Is it this? Is it this, is it this? There were too many things to learn and I felt insecure. I felt like if I don't know all of the things, I'm not going to be a good engineer. And that was completely false. And I had a beautiful manager at LinkedIn who told me just focus and get good at one thing. And I was like okay, I have to accept this, I have to recognize that you're not telling me something incorrect, you're not leading me down a bad path. I need to listen to this, and that's something that I would tell any young budding engineer is pick one language and get really good at that, because if you get hired at another company or you get on a different project that requires you to learn another language, they're going to give you the time and space to learn it. So you're okay, it is okay, right, and I'll throw in a bonus tip and this is because of what I care about, but also it is so, so important is please write accessible code, please, please, please. That's my other piece.

Tim Bourguignon: 41:09
Then we have to add some resources on where to send people so that they can learn about accessible code, at least in the show notes. Do you want to shout out to one place where we should send them?

Katherine Lewis: 41:21
Yeah, so Microsoft is a leader in accessibility. They have free online courses that you can take. I think it's called Accessibility 101. You can do that. You can also go on to LinkedIn and LinkedIn Learning. We have many accessibility focused courses. Some of them are completely free because so you don't have to have a premium subscription. We just want people to learn these skills. So those are two super important resources. The last one I'll throw in is this company called DQ. They create Axe Core, which is an accessibility testing suite, and they also have a conference that's coming up in this spring, so that's a really good place to learn more about accessibility. I'm going to keep going with my list. Forgive me, but Microsoft also has accessibility insights and Google has Lighthouse, and those are two testing suites that you can pull into your dev tools so you can use it as an engineer, you can use it with your PM, with your designer. I mean anyone can just open up whatever site you're working on, whatever application, and run those tests and see, oh goodness, we have work to do or wow, like we're doing this pretty well. So those are my top resources, and then if anyone wants to connect with me on LinkedIn, it's the LinkedIn URL slash opportunity made. Feel free to reach out to me. I have a whole nother list of resources. I also have a newsletter called opportunity made and I'll talk about accessibility sometimes in there too, but just in general. If people have more questions, feel free to message me on LinkedIn.

Tim Bourguignon: 42:56
You answer the next question, which was where can people find you online and connect with you? Anything else you want to plug in?

Katherine Lewis: 43:03
I would say that the last resource is actually my podcast opportunity made. You can find that on Apple, spotify, wherever, but I have a lot of guests on there too who talk about accessibility. They talk about engineering, they talk about tech. I've got a couple of exciting guests coming up who are going to be talking about AI and accessibility, and so by the time this show is out, those will probably be out as well. So, yeah, hopefully you can tune into that show too.

Tim Bourguignon: 43:31
And we'll link to all those links in the show notes, so you just have to scroll down and click and you'll find it there. Catherine, it's been fantastic. Thank you for telling us the story, taking us on this roller coaster of your life and those last years at LinkedIn. That was fantastic. Thank you so much.

Katherine Lewis: 43:50
Thank you for having me.

Tim Bourguignon: 43:51
And this has been another episode of Devverse Journey. I will see you next week. Bye, bye.