Meet a Maker: Rebecca Qu, Part 2

Picking up from part 1 of our interview with Rebecca Qu published last week, we’re going to focus in on her unique experience working in two very different environment since finishing at Bitmaker. She's worked in a large enterprise and with a startup – sometimes with entirely new different languages than she learned during the course.

Q: There’s a big contrast between working as part of an enterprise and a startup, what was that like for you?

Rebecca: I accepted an internship at Loblaw Digital right out of the gate. The digital office manages the website and e-commerce elements for everything under the Loblaw brand (such as Beauty Boutique, Joe Fresh, and Click And Collect). The workplace at Loblaw Digital has a fun, modern atmosphere. The dev team is large and there are many processes in place for tasks to be broken down and distributed to different functional teams. As a developer just starting out, this provided a large support base of mentors to draw upon.

After the internship, I was hired on by LookBookHQ as a Junior Full-Stack Developer – I’ve been working with them for the past four months. LookBook is a startup that produces a content marketing automation platform, and there’s a broad range of ongoing projects within a relatively small dev team. There are opportunities to have input on the final product, even as a new developer, with room for flexibility and ownership over projects.

Having worked in both environments, I can see the advantages to both types of work environments. For now, I’m enjoying the opportunity to give personal perspective on a product, the way I can in a startup atmosphere.

Understanding the business side of development, knowing what the challenges are, and how we can solve problems through software – that’s invaluable. The overlapping space between development and product is what I really enjoy. Being able to create an impactful final product is a consistently rewarding goal.

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You've had to work with different languages and frameworks than those you learned in the course. How have you handled that?

Loblaw Digital uses an entirely different stack than what was originally familiar to me. Approaching this was a real challenge, but I was able to pick out patterns and similarities between the different languages and frameworks.

Developers want to share their knowledge and help you out. You’re definitely not just thrown into something on your own, though that being said it can be scary starting out. You have to be comfortable with not being comfortable! There’s always going to be something you don’t know. It’s important to be okay with that as you break down the problem into manageable steps.

One piece of advice I'd offer for someone learning code would be to focus on core concepts. Don't worry about the exceptions and variations of a specific language – you'll naturally pick them up as you work with it day-in and day-out. As a junior developer, you often don't get to choose what tools you get to work with, so focus on the building blocks that are transferable between almost any stack.

What do you think the future holds for your career? Do you have particular goals at the moment?

One of my favourite things about this industry is that there’s not a specific set of steps you follow in terms of career trajectory. Your path doesn't have to take any one particular direction, which is not that feasible in other sectors. I’m always curious about different industries and what other people are doing.

It’s a little soon to tell what particular shape my career will take. I still have a lot to work on in terms of acquiring experience with more languages and frameworks. At the end of the day, I want to hone my skills and be an awesome developer. I’m excited to continue learning from the new opportunities that I’m led to through the tech industry. I’ve already learned so much and it’s been less than a year!

We'd like to extend a big thank you to Rebecca for her interview! We love hearing from our alumni.

Missed part one of our interview with Rebecca? Check it out here.