In this series, we spend time getting to know some of the people who make up the Procore culture.
Lydia is a backend engineer at Procore, where she designs, implements, tests and deploys the code that powers Procore's servers.
How did you get into software engineering?
A while ago, I was working towards my Master's of Public Health, Epidemiology and in my research, I was consuming a lot of health data for statistical data analysis using a software called SAS. This was my first introduction to programming and quickly became my favorite part of the research. In my first job out of grad school, I was still using the same statistical analysis software and considered trying to learn how to code but was too insecure about the idea to move forward. I was supposed to have a career already, and it felt too late to switch paths. I’m also not very “math-y.” I can barely calculate tip in my head, and felt like I didn’t have the right mathematical mind for engineering.
It wasn’t until I read an article about a 12-year-old boy who taught himself to code. Kids are so brave and willing to throw themselves into unknown frontiers without letting self-doubt get in the way. I thought that if a 12-year-old can do it, so can I. About two years after my first job out of grad school, I threw everything to the wind and joined a coding bootcamp. It was a long and somewhat rocky path to find what I was looking for, but now definitely worth it! If you’re ever looking to switch your career, you totally can, don’t let fear stop you.
What are you working on at Procore?
I’m on Procore’s Collaborations Squad where we build tools to keep communication flowing and information easily accessible, all while giving users more control over what they can do in the software without bottlenecking their construction process. It’s fun to build tools at Procore because we value customer feedback so much and try to improve and build features that they need to do their jobs better. When I heard feedback about a client who called one of our recent releases a “game changer,” I was excited to hear that we had a real-life impact on an end-user in the construction industry. It motivates me to keep doing what we’re doing.
What’s a recent challenge you’ve undertaken?
I recently started mentoring a new intern on our squad, which is something I’ve never done before! Her first official day with the team was last week, and my MO is to give her a sense of what it’s like to work on an engineering team. We’re starting with priority team projects and tasks so we can get into what a day-to-day might feel like and have them meaningfully contribute to our initiatives. Helping another person learn and grow in the professional sense is a new experience for me. Guiding someone also reinforces how well (or little!) you know a subject yourself. Empathy, creativity, and flexibility are characteristics I want to get better at because everyone learns differently and as a mentor, you want to adjust your explanations/teaching to someone else’s expectations and learning style. My goal is to be a great mentor to those around me. I feel especially empowered and inspired by the amazing strong female leads on my team. They are smart, empathetic, competent, and great role models to look up to.
Why did you join Procore?
Prior to joining Procore, I was living in the Bay Area when Kaleen Baker, a Procore recruiter, reached out and introduced me to the company. I love the Bay Area (Go Warriors!) and was hesitant to move. Kaleen was so kind and excited about Procore on the phone that I agreed to an interview with Jon Henderson, one of Procore’s Engineering Directors. If you’ve ever had a conversation with Jon, he’ll get you laughing in 2 minutes. Jon’s enthusiasm and genuine interest in me and my goals, as well as for his own work made Procore sound like an opportunity that was too good to pass up. As I went through the interview process, I found that everyone I interacted with was just as genuine, kind, and passionate about their work. I thought if this is what it is like to work at Procore then I’m sold. And also, the dogs. All the dogs.
How do you work on personal growth?
I made it an unofficial New Year’s resolution to try something that I’m uncomfortable with at least once a week. I label it unofficial because I don’t always stick to my resolutions, but for the most part I am! Whether it’s tackling a ticket with concepts/code I’m unfamiliar with, working with developers that aren’t part of my team, meeting my future in-laws, or eating with my right hand (I’m a lefty). I think in order to grow, you have to stretch yourself and step outside your comfort zone.
In the workspace, I’m pretty comfortable with backend engineering, but not so much in the frontend. To keep pushing myself, I signed up for some of Procore’s DevAcademy classes, a program where Procore engineers teach courses in their areas of expertise. I recently took a frontend class for React that was foreign and difficult for me, but I walked away understanding much more about React and no longer treat it like a threatening blackhole of knowledge. Continuous learning is essential for me, so it’s awesome that I have access to something like DevAcademy because it shows that Procore’s a company that values investment in employee learning and growth.
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