Celebrating Women’s History Month
This March, we are featuring colleagues from across The New York Times in a special Women’s History Month series of ‘Meeting’.
What are your pronouns?
What is your job title and what does it mean?
How long have you been at The Times?
About seven and a half years.
Most Times employees are working remotely right now. What does working from home these days look like for you?
I’ve been staying in New Jersey with my family for the last 11 months. A typical day consists of working at the desk in my childhood bedroom, taking breaks to hang out with my two cats or our family dog, and watching Jeopardy during dinner.
Tell us about a project you’ve worked on at The Times that you’re especially proud of.
I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done on The Weekender. It started as a group project during Maker Week (an annual event where we are free to explore and build whatever we want), and it has now grown to be a weekly feature. I have gotten to work with some amazing people in the newsroom and I learned a lot about the editorial process that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it? Knowing what you know now, would you do things differently.
A challenge I still face today is maintaining confidence in my abilities. I started at The Times right after I graduated from college. In my first year, my goal was to learn as much as possible from those around me. Achieving this was easy because my teammates were all very helpful.
As I continued my career here, I started to understand enough about our systems to be able to contribute answers rather than just ask for them. I had spent the majority of my life in school where there was always a right answer and a person to tell me what it was. It was a challenge for me to gain the confidence to embrace the ambiguity of real-life decision making. For a long time, I wouldn’t share my opinion without first asking for validation from everyone around me.
If I had trusted my gut earlier, I would have been brave enough to take chances and accept that it’s O.K. to be wrong sometimes. I think a healthy dose of skepticism in your own ideas makes you a better collaborator, but it should be balanced with some trust in yourself.
The Times has six core values (Independence, Integrity, Curiosity, Respect, Collaboration and Excellence) by which the company operates. Is there one that you find best describes your work?
All of these values are important to my work but I think collaboration is probably the best fit. I believe our job as developers at The Times is to create a stable infrastructure and a suite of tools that allow the newsroom to be creative and reach our readers. There’s no way to do that work without listening and learning constantly.
What is a goal you hope to accomplish this year?
I’m not much of a formal goal setter, especially at a time when it feels like everything is constantly changing around us. My informal goals this year are to learn some new things, work with great people and take things as they come.
As a lead engineer working on a digital product, how do you approach your work with inclusivity in mind?
One of my favorite parts of my job is when I get to sit in on our user research sessions. I love hearing from a wide range of readers, gaining insight into how they use our features and challenging my own assumptions. I try to bring those same concepts to my day-to-day work by asking for feedback and working to make sure those opinions come from a diverse group of colleagues.
What change do you hope to see in your community?
I think this year has taught us a lot about how necessary it is to have flexibility in our work-life. I hope we continue to give people the space they need to figure out how to achieve work-life balance in a way that makes sense for their circumstances.
Do you have any favorite life hacks or work shortcuts?
I am a very big fan of the split screen feature on Mac. It allows you to take any two apps and put them side-by-side in a single view. It’s so nice to be able to see faces in a meeting even if I’m sharing my screen.
What or who are you inspired by?
Work wise, I’m inspired by all of the complex, critical and sometimes life threatening work our journalists do every day. It’s kind of surreal that I work for the same company that they do.
Life wise, I’m inspired by those who use humor to help themselves and others process the complexity of life. Laughing is my favorite coping mechanism.
Fill in the blank: What is the best part of being ______? If you had it your way, what could make it better?
My favorite part of being an engineer, especially a web developer, is being able to rapidly prototype. It’s so satisfying to be able to quickly spin up a useful website that looks professional. I also love working with responsive design. Few people in real life spend time resizing their browser, but I love watching components seamlessly rearrange to fit the space.
Complete this sentence: Over time, I have realized __________.
Over time, I have realized that I get to define what a successful career looks like to me. I’m still working through what that means for me, but right now it includes working on a supportive team, building systems that reinforce The Times’s mission and bending the formal role of an engineer to include learning about disciplines outside of development (design, user research, product management, journalism).
What is your best advice for someone starting to work in your field?
When I start a project that will require learning something new, the long list of things I don’t yet understand can feel daunting. I take time at the end of those projects to remind myself of that feeling and to recognize that it was only temporary. This small habit has built up my confidence for when I face new unknowns and I highly recommend it.
Meeting… Alice Liang, Sr. Manager of Data & Insights at The New York Times
Meeting… Cindy Taibi, Chief Information Officer at The New York Times
Meeting… Natasha Dykes, Senior Software Engineer at The New York Times
Meeting… Carrie Price, Lead Software Engineer at The New York Times was originally published in NYT Open on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
This content was originally published here.