Jessica Rudder is a Software Engineer at GitHub, working on the Education team. Jessica’s engineering career started 5 years ago while working at a digital marketing agency, she fell in love with Engineering and started teaching herself using online resources. Jessica is a champion for marginalized genders in tech, an avid long-distance runner and YouTuber.
Hi @JessRudder, what’s the most rewarding part of your day to day work?
To me, writing code. Solving a thousand tiny little problems or sometimes one gigantic problem that you have to figure out how to break into a thousand tiny little problems. In my previous career in digital marketing, things felt unreal in a way, like vaporware. Now, when I’m writing code, I feel like this is a real thing, the code I write has a physical presence on a server and people use it.
How did you first get into Software Engineering?
I started out as an account manager at a digital marketing agency. I could get my clients up and running faster by doing some of the drudge work the engineers put off (like writing a SQL query or parsing XML feeds). The Engineering team was very encouraging, and I was lucky the CTO became my mentor and sponsor, with all their support, I began to work my way into engineering.
What kind of resources did you use to teach yourself?
I took free online programming classes, recordings from MIT classes and eventually attended a programming Bootcamp.
GitHub is a very unique place to work. What would you say was the most surprising thing you’ve experienced as a new Hubber?
How generous and approachable all of the super experienced Senior Engineers were, every time I’ve had a question, every time I’ve needed a pair, or every time I’ve been frustrated or broke production, everyone has been very helpful and supportive. Senior Engineers, I admire like @eileencodes, @tenderlove, @cheshire137 just to name a few, they really take the time to answer questions, teach and be helpful. They are the kind of Senior Engineer I want to be when I get there.
In your opinion what underrated skill you’d say makes an Engineer better at their work?
Taking a step back and respecting the problem, I’m getting better at not trying to jump straight into a solution. Some of the best Senior Engineers that I admire, when I watch them work through something, they always start out by slowing down and asking questions before they start writing code.
As an Engineer, it’s easy to feel as if writing the code is the job. So you think that if you’re not writing the code, you’re not doing the job. Being in meetings feels like It’s not the job, having product discussions feels like it’s not the job, and asking questions feels like, oh, it’s delaying the work. But the reality is if you don’t do all of these things, you’re not doing your job and the code you write won’t be as good.
Thanks in part to your leadership GitHub has recently established an official employee resource group for marginalized gender identities in tech, this is clearly a labor of love. Why is this work important to you?
I want this to be the best place for all of us to work at, we have work to do in diversity and I feel our leadership is truly invested in the work it takes to improve that. We needed to stop caring and start doing and I’ve been able to do that through helping form the Adacats.
I’ve heard you love running and often compete, how did you get into it?
I’d been staying in tiny, tiny places in New York City or a friends couch for a while and running ended up sort of being the thing that I could do to stay fit. I got started in distance running thanks to my kind in laws who were training for a marathon themselves and generously bought me shoes and encouraged me to train with them. I’ve been running ever since.
I’m not the fastest or most graceful runner but is great to see your body do what you ask of it. One day I’ll love to qualify for the 152-mile Spartathlon.