Women in Tech: Shruti Kapoor

Women in Tech: Shruti Kapoor

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Job hunting is about luck and right timing. Just because you didn’t get this job doesn’t mean you are any less of a developer. It just means that this was not the right time for this opportunity

— Shruti Kapoor


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 Shruti Kapoor 👩‍💻.

Shruti is a Senior Software Engineer at PayPal who frequently write JS blogs and actively works with JavaScript (ES6), ReactJS, Redux, GraphQL.

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

Shruti: I first got introduced to web development through an internship at school, which later helped me spawn my first startup company. I have been working with the web since.

Can you briefly tell us about your job title?

Shruti: I am a Senior Software Engineer. It involves leading the implementation lifecycle of a product - starting from discovery, design, architecture, implementation, release and maintenance. On a day-to-day basis, I write code, make architecture design documents, review code, plan the execution of the product and attend sprint ceremonies such as standup, planning, retrospective and checkpoint.

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

Shruti: Our industry is not very beginner friendly. Getting your first job fresh out of college is very hard. I consider myself lucky for the opportunities I have received in my tech career, but getting started wasn't easy. As a woman engineer, sometimes I am the only female in the room and I have to constantly remind myself that I deserve a seat at the table and that I am competent enough.

Before now, you worked as a Software Engineer at PIX System. How was life here? When and why did you decide to make a shift?

Shruti: Working at PIX system was a very interesting experience. It was the first company I worked at in the Bay Area and coming from TELUS in Vancouver, Canada, it was a very different experience. I got the taste of what it is like to work in the Bay Area. Things move fast at PIX, and team size is small so there is a lot of opportunities to work on a project that involves working independently, giving a lot of autonomy. PIX is used by almost every movie and show that is produced in Hollywood and it was very exciting to be going to a movie theatre and looking for end credits in a movie to see PIX’s name.

I decided to make a shift because I was looking for a company with an enterprise level structure and work on more challenging engineering problems.

You currently work as a Senior Software Engineer at Paypal. How long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?

Shruti: Working at PayPal has been a lot of fun. It took me 5 years to get to this role. I joined PayPal as a Software Engineer and got promoted into this role. One of the hardest parts of this journey has been constantly up-leveling myself and keeping myself up to date. Web development is such a fast paced industry that if you are not constantly studying and reading, you can get outdated pretty fast.

We see that you work predominately in Software Engineering, JavaScript, React and GraphQL How did you decide to focus on these paths?

Shruti: I love to work on technologies that inspire creativity and “spark joy”. Working with JavaScript came as a lucky co-incidence when I first started building websites in my startup. I got introduced to React at my first professional job at TELUS and was in love with the dynamic rendering of data that React provides. I came from an Angular background, and working with React was both refreshing and exciting. I recently got introduced to GraphQL a couple of years ago, and I have been in love with how easy it makes to consume and introspect data.

What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work as a Full-stack Engineer?

Shruti: In your first few years, aim to learn as much as you can and from as many people as you can. It’s okay if you do not get all the concepts right now, focus on progress. Most people around you want to see you succeed. Ask for help and ask often. Find a mentor who can guide you through the journey. Don’t be stuck on one tech stack. Focus on the fundamentals in your initial years.

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

Shruti: I have been in tech for 7 years. My experience so far has been exhilarating.

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

Shruti: I love learning in public. Most of the stuff I write about are things I didn't know and wanted to learn about. The blogs I write are my notes made public. Lately, I have been writing with beginners in mind. It is very hard being a beginner in this industry and I remember that as a beginner I found it very challenging to understand web development concepts. I want to help out people who are just starting out being a web developer.

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

Shruti: Do not worry if the topic you are writing has been written thousands of times. Everyone has a different style of writing and explaining concepts. One thing that has helped me in writing content is thinking about my younger self - if I was teaching this concept to myself a few months ago, what questions would I have, how would I go about explaining the concept, what would be my next steps after reading the article?

Shruti: I love nerdy jokes! This is a way for me to express my nerdiness with people like me :D

We see that you speak and teach at software conferences, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?

Shruti: I have always been interested in public speaking since I was a kid. My parents motivated me in school to participate in school debate competitions. That's where the initial thrill of speaking came from. I enjoy speaking at conferences and meetups because it gives me an opportunity to share my knowledge with others while meeting incredibly talented people with different background, experiences and expertise.

What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?

Shruti: If you are interested in speaking at meetups and conferences and don’t have past experience speaking publicly, start with a small group and start with a topic you are passionate about and familiar with. Present your talk to a core group of friends or co-workers and get feedback. Once you get comfortable with a smaller group, you can move on to bigger audiences and the process becomes easier over time.

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?

Shruti: Dealing with imposter syndrome is hard and something I experience as well. One way to deal with it which I learnt from a mentor was to develop a list of achievements when you feel proud of yourself. These list of achievements could be anywhere from personal to professional. When you feel like an imposter, go through this list and remind yourself that you are here because of all the amazing things you have done.

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?

Shruti: Job hunting is about luck and right timing. Just because you didn’t get this job doesn’t mean you are any less of a developer. It just means that this was not the right time for this opportunity. Knock at another door, something new and better will come up.

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

The best advice I have received is to be a sponge. Every one around you has something they can teach you. Be a lifelong learner.

What are your favorite programming tools?

Shruti: iTerm with oh-my-zsh, Webstorm, version control.

What does your development environment look like?

Vertical monitor + lots of light + notepads + plants

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

Shruti: Dear future technologist, we are so excited for you and can't wait to see you succeed. You are gonna be awesome in this industry! Let's build something amazing together.

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 💪💙