Women in Tech: Ankita Masand

Women in Tech: Ankita Masand

Don't doubt your accomplishments and never compare yourself with everyone around! You should take others' achievements positively, in the sense, that you’re surrounded by good people out there and you should learn from their experiences and not beat yourself up!

— Ankita Masand


I interview leading women developers every week and showcase their history, opinions, and advice on the tech. In case you missed our previous interviews, check out the series on Hashnode.

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Today, we will be interviewing Ankita Masand 👩‍💻.

Ankita is a creative and competent developer with a knack for organized workflows who currently works as Senior Frontend Engineer at Treebo Hotels. Ankita likes complex Engineering problems and believes every complicated problem can be solved with ease by breaking it down to simple fundamental subsets.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?

Ankita: I followed a classic path of getting a computer science degree and then hopped onto a tech job! Nonetheless, I was not deeply interested in coding while I was in college but I liked building products, sketching out their wireframes and how a particular interface should behave. I was not short of ideas for academic projects; I’d have a team of coders who’d implement my project ideas and it was always fun :) I believe I was not interested in coding at that time because everything looked ambiguous and high-level. I was always of the opinion that programming is a nerd’s game and I’m better off with it! (That was the surrounding culture)

It was during the first job that I fall in love with programming. All thanks to my mentors! They made it so easy for me to understand every bit of how a particular system works! I started with the fundamental aspects and was always curious about how everything works so perfectly. The right mentors and not getting overwhelmed by the ocean of technical jargon helped me sail through smoothly. And even now, when I start learning any new thing, I make it a point to get to the basics and nail down technical jargon that comes along the way. Tech is love if you learn it the right way! :)

Can you briefly tell us about your job title?

Ankita: I’m working as a senior front-end engineer at Treebo Hotels. This is my first time being a senior and now I understand what a pain I was while I was a junior. :P But this is really an exciting journey of building product features, mentoring others in the team, reviewing every piece of code and also taking up on the blame when something goes off! :)

What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?

Ankita: I was always sure of what all jobs I DIDN’T want to do! And I knew I have to work super hard to get the type of job I want. I would not say difficulties but I followed a diligent plan whenever I was stuck! Like, when I was rejected from a company where I wanted to work, I listed down the reasons for what went wrong and how could I improve and would read lots of interview questions to prepare myself better. When I wanted to learn a new tool/programming language, I’d work on weekends and after work hours to ace that skill.

Luckily, I never felt being treated as unequal! I’m very vocal about it and whenever things seemed off and if some project that I deserve is not assigned to me, I’d go to my manager and ask him upfront if anything is wrong with my performance and why I’m not the right fit to work on that project! But I see a lot of women out there who are not being treated as equals in their organizations. The best way to solve this is to speak out loud and have one-to-one discussions with the person on why he thinks the other way!

If there’s a bias women face, why do you think it is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?

Ankita: The very first thing that comes to my mind is people think that women are not capable and that they are not made to do programming. Stereotypically, people don’t think of women as successful coders. People would say to me to get an MBA and get into management instead of doing the hard-wired job of a software engineer! This mentality needs to be cleaned up! Women can do a lot better job at coding whatever system there is.

The first step to getting more women into tech is getting a mentality check - stop thinking that women are not meant to build complex software.

I have often seen men in some of the organizations forming a gang and discussing work-related things on their own and they don’t even bother to invite the only women in their team to join the discussion. She doesn’t feel being included in the team and this drops off her morale in some cases. It is very easy for a new guy to gel up with the team because he quickly becomes a part of the gang and gets comfortable with everyone around. This is not true when a new girl joins the team! STOP creating groups of ALL MEN coders in organizations. Let the new girl feel that she is included in the work-related discussions and please make her feel at ease like you do with the new guy joining in your team.

I see that in many organizations - the top-level business managers place a great deal of faith in the male coders and they think that no matter what this coder is going to burn the midnight oil and will get the product ready! Women don’t even get the right opportunities to prove themselves because people don’t trust their skills well enough as compared to their counterparts. Please for god’s sake, have faith in women employees. She is going to do a fab job! If she is capable, don’t have second thoughts in your mind. Start trusting women employees and make them feel that their skills are valued and that they’re doing a great job.

Before now, you worked as a Freelance Software Engineer. How was life as a Freelancer? When and why did you decide to make a shift?

Ankita: I just wanted to experiment out and see how things go as a freelancer! :) I got bored very quickly and was missing on the perks of a full-time employee like interacting with other like-minded people, having discussions on a lot of things :) I was missing the joy of working in a team and getting things done together on tough deadlines.

I didn’t have any plan of working as a freelancer for a long duration of time. I joined another full-time job in a span of around 2 months. The primary reason for switching to freelancing for this short period was to take a break and polish my skillsets for the job that I wanted and also have some projects going!

You currently work as Senior Frontend Engineer at Treebo Hotels, how long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?

Ankita: I have around 4 years of experience working on the web. It takes rich and quality experience to get onto a senior-level position. You should be comfortable with most of the web-related concepts and should have a decent knowledge of system design as well. Again, this is not all difficult! All these things can be learned!

At the start of my career, I used to build just the user interfaces and would feel happy looking at the neatly placed components :) I then started on learning about the build systems and how to write modularized and performant code. I learned how code gets compiled and eventually gets rendered by the browser. There are many design patterns and you should know which one works where and how to effectively use them in your code. You got to also learn some performance gotchas. There are many interesting things that you learn while working on the web! I have also worked on some of the back-end services and would learn different types of databases and which one to choose based on your requirements. These things come with hard work and patience and an insatiable desire to understand how systems are built! These are not posed as difficulties per se but are some of the things that you’ll have to learn if you have to be at the top of your game while being in tech.

I was rejected a lot many times by many good companies. I have learned it the hard way! I used to make notes of what went wrong and how can I improve. Lately, I’ve been in a position of clearing some of the interviews that were otherwise difficult some time ago! I feel giving in more than 100% in the interviews and having a strong desire to work in that particular company really help in acing the interview rounds.

We see that you work predominately in Frontend Engineering and JavaScript. How did you decide to focus on these paths?

Ankita: My primary experience is in frontend engineering but I have worked on backend systems as well. Lately, I have been fascinated by microservices, distributed systems and have been reading a lot on Docker and Kubernetes.

When I started out as a front-end engineer, most of my colleagues would tell me that UI is not a cool place to be in and that it is not a difficult job; anybody can do it! These comments would sometimes demotivate me and would question my decision of being a UI dev. I loved working on user interfaces and I knew I was learning something new each day. I ignored what others have to say and just focused on my art!

What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work as a Senior Frontend Engineer?

Ankita: This is not a tough mountain to break into! You should be clear in your thought process and should have the skill to make things easier to understand for junior members in the team. All of the technical things can be learned with some hard work and patience. Remember, the senior engineers didn’t start their careers at senior positions. They also started like you and worked hard enough to climb up the ladder.

How long have you been in tech and what word will describe your experience so far?

Ankita: It’s been almost 4 years that I’m working in this lovely profession! I’d describe my experience as exciting :)

You are a "writing machine" Ankita, what's your super power?

Ankita: Haha! I was afraid of writing my first technical article. I used to think people would judge me and would ridicule my skills! But let me say this out loud - the community is super helpful and the positive comments encouraged me to write more and more. A simple comment on how my blog helped someone in understanding something used to make my day.

I enjoyed writing and was no longer afraid of sharing my experiences. I really liked how this all was coming together. I feel that one thing that I did best with my blogs was to not take them lightly. I don’t just put some paragraphs off and get away it! I make it a point that each and every piece is meaningful and very clear. I mostly write detailed articles because I consider that If I were the reader this is all that I’d expect to be in an article :)

My superpower would definitely be clarity of thoughts and getting rid of the technical jargon altogether. I strive to make the tech space welcoming and easy to understand for everyone around!

What advice do you have for beginners or intermediates who look forward to technical writing?

Ankita: Get onto your writing pad and start writing on something that you’ve been working on! Technical writing is not a difficult thing but I can understand that writing may be quite overwhelming for some folks. Start reading articles of some famous writers and see how easy they make it for everyone to understand. What is it that you liked in each of the articles that you read? What was it in that article that made you read it till the end? Take inspirations from their writing style and I’m sure you’d do a good job on your first article. Remember, to have clarity of thoughts and make it super easy for your readers to understand!

What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and continue learning?

Ankita: I often see that many beginner developers quit programming in the initial few months because they think they are not working up to speed and would eventually fail in the long run. This is clearly not true. Programming is not something that you can learn in a few months. You need to constantly improve your knowledge and keep reading more. Have patience and know that this will take some time. But make sure that you’re learning something new each day. The tech community is doing an excellent job of putting out neatly written articles, podcasts, course videos. The beginner developers should definitely take advantage of these and if need be, talk to the senior people in the community and understand how they made their mark into tech. At the start, I was afraid of talking to people but then later I realized there are many good people out there and they’re more than willing to help you out!

Imposter syndrome is one problem developers face especially newbies, what is your experience with imposter syndrome, how did you manage yours and what advice do you have for anyone facing this currently?

Ankita: Most of the developers face imposter syndrome while at the beginning of their careers. This is due to the fact that you’re surrounded by a lot of experienced developers and you feel that you’ve achieved nothing yet! Please look at the amount of experience that the other people have put into! You got to have some level of patience and understand that you’ll reach there eventually step by step! You're already doing fantastic work based on your experience! :)

Yes, I have experienced imposter syndrome at the start of my career. There was a time when I thought I’m not good enough and that tech is not working out for me. I had also gone into the extremes of quitting tech and doing something else. Some good advice and a pinch of motivation made me stick my head to tech.

Don't doubt your accomplishments and never compare yourself with everyone around! You should take others' achievements positively, in the sense, that you’re surrounded by good people out there and you should learn from their experiences and not beat yourself up!

Rejection emails are another thing that motivates imposter syndrome and depression amongst developers especially intermediates. How did you manage this effectively during your "job-hunting" days?

Ankita: I do understand that job-hunting is quite a daunting task and can put you into a depression disaster! It gets frustrating when you don’t understand why companies are rejecting you and that what you should do to change this.

Make a note of all the skills that you know and be honest with yourself. Start prepping up on your weaker areas and keep reading more and more. Make sure you know every concept and that you’re able to put it down clearly. I have seen many people who know a lot of things but are not able to frame it properly. I think it is a very important skill to put your words out there succinctly!

It’s completely alright to fail some of the interviews. You’ll learn from the experience and would surely do better the next time! :)

What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Treebo Hotels or Google?

Ankita: Start with the basics and gradually build upon your fundamentals. The good companies usually judge you based on your understanding of some topics and would not require you to know a dozen of languages. Have a strong grip on the underlying concepts! Build some good projects that can showcase your strong technical candidature. Read on system design concepts and how to use them effectively. You should also know data structures and algorithms if you plan on applying for software engineering roles. Don’t just gulp DS Algo questions. Try to make sense out of them and understand why a particular data structure is used to solve a specific problem.

Which of your projects are you most proud of? Can you briefly introduce us to it and why you built it?

Ankita: My recent project of working on the performance-front of the consumer-facing applications at Treebo is definitely exciting!. We managed to get a good enough hold of the performance score. I got to know a lot many new things related to performance!

I have now taken up a demanding task of learning Microservices, Docker, and Kubernetes and am making it easy for others to understand every bit of it. This is something that I’m most proud of! This is not complete yet and we’re working to make it very easy for everyone to understand these taxing topics!

What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?

Ankita: Learn something each day! If you feel that you’re able to manage your work effortlessly, it simply means that you’re in your comfort zone and are not learning anything new!

No matter how big/challenging a task is, you got to put your 100% into it!

Take ownership of your tasks and step up to the front if something goes off!

Ask for challenging projects and work on them diligently!

What are your favorite programming tools?

Ankita: VS Code, Chrome dev tools, Postman

What does your development environment look like? Could you please share a photo? :)


Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?

Ankita: This is not going to be an easy ride and you’ll have to prove yourself at every stage that you’re capable enough to take the lead! Don’t be afraid of taking the front position; take the lead and move forward! There will be times when you’d feel isolated and would feel that you’re not included. Speak up and try to discuss this with people that this is not the right way!

Thanks for taking out time to read this interview. 👋

This series is all about talking to the awesome women in tech, understanding the current health of the tech industry and inspiring other women to become better. If you want to share your story, please reach out to me on Hashnode.

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See you next time and keep trailblazing 💪💙