Tech Role Models: Cassidy Williams, Senior Software Engineer at Codepen

Today's Tech Role Model is Cassidy Williams. Cassidy is a Senior Software Engineer at Codepen.

Today’s Tech Role Model is Cassidy Williams. Cassidy studied computer science in college and began her career at Vimeo. In addition to building out the product, she also served as a developer evangelist, organized hackathons, and spoke at events and conferences. In her subsequent roles, Cassidy continued to serve as a mentor and advocate for her fellow developers. Cassidy is currently a Senior Software Engineer at Codepen, online community for testing and showcasing user-created front-end code snippets.

What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?

Senior Software Engineer at CodePen, and I’ve been there for six weeks this week!

What attracted you to this senior software engineer role?

I’ve used and loved CodePen for several years, and I’ve known that I wanted to work for them for a while. It was so thrilling to be able to finally do so!

Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?

CodePen is a fully remote company! We’re a team of 7 people based all over, from Virginia to Australia. So far, I work from home or at a cafe nearby; I’m thinking about joining a co-working space at some point. We don’t have a lot of meetings as a company. We have an all-hands every week, weekly 1:1s with a different member of the team (everyone rotates), and then we have impromptu meetings whenever something needs to be discussed. It’s a great, friendly, very efficient team.

What skills/technologies help you succeed?

Communication is absolutely key. Especially on a remote team! If you can’t communicate, then people don’t know you’re working. 

As for technologies, I’m armed with JavaScript and React! We’re converting a large chunk of the codebase to React right now, and we’re also working on new features and bugs. I normally use Vim as my editor, but I’ve been dabbling in VSCode here and there lately.

What’s the most fun or creative part of your senior software engineer role?

Because we’re such a small team, everyone’s voice is very significant. If someone has an idea or opinion, their thoughts directly impact what the company builds! I love having that freedom.

What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?

A small team means you’ve got to be efficient. We don’t move super fast; rather, we move more deliberately. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be a challenging thing.

What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?

I work with everyone on the team! One of the things we do at CodePen is a “support rotation.” On Fridays, a different person rotates to handle customer support. We have a dedicated customer support/community manager/etc person, and on Fridays she works on her other projects. Doing that sort of cross-functional work is great for having perspective on what users want. I’ve also pair programmed with almost everyone on the team, which has been helpful for learning the codebase and seeing how other people think.

What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your senior software engineer role?

Because I’m still fairly new to the role, learning the codebase and how the team works is still top of mind. That being said, I’m hoping to establish a long-term work/life balance where I can do fun side projects and not be stressed about work. I want to be a better developer and manager, but being better personally is something I constantly have to work on.

What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?

We’ll have to see as time goes on. 😉

Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your senior software engineer role?

Being a solid coder and being willing to pick up and learn new technologies is good, but communication is #1.

In your role, what metrics define success?

Code quality and solid communication.

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