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From CS graduate to Cyber Security Engineer in a Year

Tell us about yourself

Hi! My name is Aditi Chaudhry and I’m a Cybersecurity Engineer at Capital One. Currently, I’m working on integrating an open source, dynamic vulnerability scanner into an internal portal that hosts our applications. I was so excited to be a DC FemTech award winner this year!

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015 with a double major in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. My hobbies include painting and watching college basketball (Go Hoos!). I also just started a tech blog which has been really fun!

Tell us about your first tech job

I joined Capital One as a technology intern in the summer of 2014 and then started working full time as an associate in 2015 as a member of the Technology Development Program.

In the first year of the program, I worked as a software engineer on an agile team and developed enterprise APIs for the Marketing and Modernization platform. It was really fun and challenging at the same time and I got to learn a lot from really smart people!

How did you land the internship at Capital One?

I leveraged the resources provided by the University of Virginia’s Engineering Career Center to find the Capital One Tech Internship. I attended the University’s Engineering Career Fair where I met awesome representatives at the Capital One booth who encouraged me to apply.

To prepare for the interview, I used the resources provided by the recruiter as well as the book, “Cracking the Coding Interview,” to prepare for the technical portion of the interview.

You started out as a Software Developer after graduating from college, and quickly became a Senior Associate Cyber Security Engineer. How did you go about transitioning to the higher position?

Capital One has this great rotational program called the Technology Development Program which I entered after graduating from college. The program is set up so each associate spends a year in one role and then rotates to a different role. Through the program, I met and networked with many people to find out more about Cyber Security at Capital One.

This led to my rotation to the Application Security team! I was fortunate to be recognized for my hard-work in both roles as a software developer and a cyber security engineer, which allowed me to transition to a higher position.

Any advice when interviewing?

My advice for interviewing is to ask the recruiter what type of interview will be conducted. I had 3 interviews with Capital One to assess different aspects of my skills and how I work on a team.

From a behavioral interview perspective, I searched online for common behavioral interview questions and read up on the STAR method. For the technical side, I used the book “Cracking the Coding Interview,” which I HIGHLY recommend for any coding interview. I also prepared for a case scenario, so I searched again for practice problems with answers.  

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in tech?

The technology field is amazing!! Sometimes it will be hard and you will be faced with some type of adversity, but don’t be scared or intimidated.  You have the skills to overcome any challenge. Be confident and believe in yourself, believe in your brilliance and trust your intuition.


Register for Capital One’s WIT Experience and join women in tech from all over for a day of skill-building, networking and fun.

 

Disclaimer: Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! To learn more about Capital One, visit www.capitalonecareers.com.

How a Communications major became a Cyber Security Analyst

Tell us about yourself

Hi! My name is Thelma Rodrigues. My nationality is Cape Verdean and I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated from Boston College in 2012 with a degree in Communications, with a Pre-Law concentration.

Now, I am a cyber security analyst in the Cyber Security Operations Center at Capital One. As analysts, we are the first line of defense against cyber threats.

A fun fact about me is I used to play rugby for 6 years and I was captain of my college team for three years. Now, I enjoy doing graphic design, painting, and playing softball in my free time. When I first moved to DC, I volunteered for one year with City Year (AmeriCorps). Service remains something that is very important to me.

Tell us about how you landed your current role. You have a B.A. in communications. How did you make the switch to tech?

Before I came to Capital One, I was working as a junior forensic consultant. I got to that position by shadowing co-workers, doing online training, and learning from work experience. I volunteered to handle new tasks and take on responsibilities to help my team.

I started as an administrative assistant, then I was promoted to a project assistant and finally a junior consultant. After my promotions, I studied and took two certification exams. I became a Certified Forensic Hacking Investigator and a Certified Computer Forensics Examiner. I was always interested in cyber security, so I did online trainings to learn about it, learned Python, and attended cyber security meetups to network.

I was on Meetup.com looking for events and hackathons when I found the Women in Tech Demo Days Hackathon in 2016. I had no idea that it was a Capital One event. I showed up that day with some ideas, met a group, and we ran with it. I gave my first pitch that day and I was so nervous!

But I had so much fun, learned a ton, and met awesome people that I am still connected with to this day. Shortly after the hackathon, I learned of an open position at Capital One on the cyber security team. I applied and interviewed, then I started at Capital One in my DREAM job!

I had no idea when I attended WIT Demo Day that I would end up working at Capital One. I think it was a sign of many good things to come for me and I’m so glad I attended it. I can’t encourage you enough to attend and pitch at hackathons! It’s great experience and can lead to expanding your network for future career opportunities.

What are some resources that helped you in your journey in tech?

Meetup.com helped me find tech events where I could network and learn more about technology for free. I was able to build confidence in myself through meeting other people in the industry, especially women who were leading examples of what I could be.

The best learning resource I had was Pluralsight, which allowed me to learn everything and anything technical. I still use it to this day! It is an immense repository for technical trainings.

I will always encourage having mentors, shadowing people if you are interested in what they do, and networking as great learning resources.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in tech?

When I was younger, I had an interest in technology. I did A+ Computer Training as a teenager, but was discouraged when I was the odd girl out in a class full of boys. And then on top of that I failed the certification because I was scared to ask for help in class. I wish now that I kept going because I might have found my passion for technology sooner.

So my advice to younger women is: go for it! Never give up. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, do it anyway. And ALWAYS ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You have nothing to lose in following your dreams, so just go for it. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


Register for Capital One’s WIT Experience and join women in tech from all over for a day of skill-building, networking and fun.

 

Disclaimer: I partnered with Capital One on WIT Experience to highlight and support women in tech. Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! To learn more about Capital One, visit www.capitalonecareers.com.

Meet Jennifer Manry, the Woman Leading Enterprise Tech at Capital One

Tell us about yourself

I’ve always been fascinated with engineering and how it can solve problems, and that led me to earn my degree in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. I started my career at General Motors and then went on to General Electric, then Genworth before joining Capital One about seven years ago.

In addition to my work leading Enterprise Tech for Capital One, I’m deeply involved in our Women in Tech (WIT) initiative. I’m on the advisory board for Women Who Code, lead our external partnerships for WIT, collaborate on our Women in Tech Allies program led by my fellow Capital One executive Mike Wisler, and am so excited to bring the WIT Experience to Virginia in November. (Fun fact: WIT Experience registration is FREE and open now, so register and join women in tech from all over for a day of skill-building, networking and fun!)

Women Who Code is important for so many reasons, but the most vital for me is because it helps women see opportunities for themselves in fields that they may never have considered before.  WWCode provides women the support and resources to get or enhance the skills they need in the 21st century and thrive in a rapidly growing workforce.  

True confession: I hate talking about myself. I continue to be encouraged by my team to share my successes, so here goes. These are some fun things I’ve done in the last year that I never would have expected just a few years ago, but am so proud of:

What are the most important skills to have for someone in your position?

I like to say that I have the best job at Capital One because I get to make sure that our more than 40,000 associates have the technology they need to succeed. If my team is doing their job well, then our associates can communicate and collaborate seamlessly. We ‘remove the goo’ so that there is nothing in their way as they create breakthrough products for our customers.

In my role, there are many skills that are helpful. Some that I use most often are problem solving, data analysis, flexibility, and empathy. While the first three might be expected, that last one is a surprise for most. But really, when you get right down to it, I have to be empathetic to every associate—from developer to analyst to communications—and their needs.

They don’t need to care about how we integrated Slack for Enterprise across the company or how Vmware enables them to connect more easily, because my team and I care deeply about every detail for all points of view. We think about it constantly so our associates can focus on their expertise to best serve our customers.

How did you go about transitioning to more and more higher level positions?

I’m grateful to have been recognized for my work throughout my career. I’ve learned from mentors and colleagues all along the way, but here’s my best piece of advice for anyone at any level to succeed: never get comfortable.

That is especially true in tech where the landscape changes daily and you have to constantly evolve your strategy and educate yourself to stay relevant.

'Never get comfortable. You have to constantly evolve your strategy and educate yourself to stay… Click To Tweet

What are some difficulties you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?

Ever since I was young, I have always seen difficulty or adversity as just another challenge to conquer.  Even in the most challenging of circumstance, I just plant my feet knowing that I have taken on hard times before, and I can take on any that come my way.  

I love a good challenge and a hard problem to solve, and I derive a ton of personal satisfaction from navigating my way through them.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the next step in their career to a more leadership role?

If you want to do anything in your career from getting a new job or getting promoted to switching careers, you have to keep learning and expanding your network. I invite all of the Code with Veni readers to do just that at the WIT Experience. Register, join us, and make sure to say hi to me that day! I’d love to meet you. See you on November 15!  

Never let the fear of failing, or the fear of the unknown, be what prevents you from taking a step.  I have found I have grown the most when I took a big step into something unfamiliar.  

'Never let the fear of failing, or the fear of the unknown, be what prevents you from taking a step.' Click To Tweet

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I partnered with Capital One on the WIT Experience to highlight and support women in tech. Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! To learn more about Capital One, visit www.capitalonecareers.com.

What happens when you put women in tech, allies and mentors together?

We build apps that benefit our tech community and inspire young minds. That’s what happened at Capital One’s Women in Tech Demo Day hackathon in DC.

The participants tackled one of these four challenges to support women and girls in tech: 1. help male allies support women 2. improve unconscious bias 3. help women find opportunities and 4. inspire women through role models.

I am in awe of what the teams were able to accomplish in a short period of time. The projects ranged from data mining 1000s of resumes for tackling unconscious bias to the cutest and technically impressive game that encouraged girls to get into gaming.

I’d love to share with you the projects and the amazing people who brought them to life. I bet they’ll inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me.

Powered by Perspective

In this category, the judges wanted to see tools that help male allies learn ways to support women in the workplace and tech community.

I was very happy to see this category in this year’s Women in Tech Demo Days. Women make up only 25% of the tech industry. However, the burden falls to us to fix the issues we face at our jobs and in the community. There needs to be more done to get men involved. We need to work together to make changes from within organizations.

The Winning Team: Powered by Perspective

Team Powered by Perspective is building a narrative game and guide for male allies to know how to respond productively to sexism in the workplace.

“Using this tool, male allies who want to say something but get the deer-in-headlights effect when it actually happens have a chance to game it out beforehand and have some good language in their back pocket, already ready, for when they are faced with sexist situations.” — Team Powered by Perspective.

The team won a grand prize of a General Assembly scholarship of $10,000, a mention in Women Who Code’s CODE Review newsletter and tickets and travel to Capital One’s Women in Tech Experience in Virginia!

Let’s meet this diverse team. Belindah Jones is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland University College who is transitioning to the world of UI/UX Design. Yun Suk Choi who studied Electrical Engineering is an Illustrator who is also transitioning to UX/UI Design.

Marisa Gianfortune is a Computer Science graduate from Cornell who now works as a Javascript Engineer and has taught at Girls Who Code. Christian Straubhaar-Jones is a Software Engineer, with past experience in building healthy masculinity programming at the high school level.

These four made the perfect team to bring Powered By Perspective to life.

“What made it possible were team members who appreciated and utilized the strengths’ each member could bring to the team,” said Belindah Jones

“It was definitely a good experience for me because it gave me a chance to network with people and learn skills from it,” said Yun Suk

“The Women in Tech Demo days presented by Capital One was an amazing event. I not only met great women in technology, but I had an opportunity to hear pitches from twelve groups. As a team winner I look forward to mentoring other groups or individuals attain their goals,” said Belindah Jones on her experience at the hackathon.

Both of these amazing ladies are looking for new roles in UI/UX. The best way to support women in tech is to actually hire them. So check out Belindah and Yun Suk’s profiles.

Womallie

Oluseyi Akinyode, a Project Management Associate and Experience Designer, is building a mobile app to empower women through male allies as well. The app provides awareness and tools to address the issue.

Oluseyi during her presentation mentioned that allies are integral and that it is important to pair women with male advocates. It can act as an awareness and education tool or an employment tool. Oluseyi says that we should reward people for good behavior.

Oluseyi worked on this project solo. It was amazing to see how much she was able to accomplish in a short period of time. Womallie received an honorable mention during the hackathon.

Unconscious Bias

The goal in this category was to create tools to identify, understand and improve the influence of unconscious bias in the workplace.

RecruitHer

RecruitHer is addressing the issue of unconscious bias in job postings.

This team consists of five badass women. Evann Smith is a Senior Data Scientist. Tracy King and Jenise Walters are Front End Engineers. Natalie Olivo is a Program Logistics Analyst. Rachel Cheuk is a Fullstack Software Engineer.

“We need more women in tech. We need more women to apply to tech jobs. We need women to see themselves in tech job postings and to say, ‘That is me! I can do that!’

Language matters. Job postings often carry unconscious bias, using words that target ‘male’ attributes. We mine thousands of resumes to learn how men and women *describe themselves*, and then build a language model and recommender engine to analyze text and provide alternative recommendations for (male) gendered words.

Go for ‘neutral’ word replacements, or even more progressively, use ‘female gendered’ words and specifically target women to directly address the gender gap in tech. Find the talent you’re looking for with the language they use to describe themselves.” — RecruitHer Team

RecruitHer also received an honorable mention for their hard work.

BiaBase

BiaBase helps companies identify how much they are being biased in their recruiting process.

“Our project is an app that allows companies to import the resumes of their current employees as well as the resumes of the non-hired applicants. The app then reads through the resumes and identifies how much the company is being biased in the gender, age, and race/ethnicity area.

Additionally, it allows them to understand how they may be being biased and thus, allows them to rethink their actions in their recruiting process.” — BiaBase Team

I was truly impressed and inspired by Fernanda Molina, a developer and sophomore at George Mason High School and Sarah Galyon, a freshman at the University of Tennessee studying Computer Science. Both are in the area for a summer code camp. These young women gave all of us hope for the future.

TeamMatrix.io

Due to unconscious bias, sometimes women are passed over on promotions and projects. They are given to men with less qualifications.

TeamMatrix.io is working on keeping unconscious bias in check in the work place. It is an equal opportunity tracking application to improve hiring process, team building and leadership development.

This team consists of six amazing women with a variety of experience. Leigh Lawhon is a Developer and UI/UX Designer. Rachel Shuwen Zhou is a Data Consultant. Eboni Wigginton is a Front-end Developer. Kat Schroder is a Test Automation Engineer. Diana Claros is a student at Prince George’s Community College and LeeSandra Alexandre is a Front-End student.

Investing in Networks

In this category, teams built technology that helps women in tech find resources, events, and networking opportunities to connect with other women in tech in their region

SpeakHerUp

SpeakHerUp is an app where women are coached by organizers and other women to give their first talk and in turn increase the pipeline of women speakers.

Vanessa Colina, a UX Designer was invited to speak at Creative Jam this week. This was her first time speaking at an event and sharing her expertise. The invitation and the speaking opportunity was very empowering for her. This sparked the idea for the mobile app SpeakHerUp.

Stan Reeser is a consultant and an organizer of the NOVA Code Camp. He is always looking for speakers for his event and tries to achieve a 50/50 gender balance for his speakers.

Miriam K. White is a Technical Manager for Mobile Products. She has lead the product development lifecycle (ideation to market launch and support) for many award-winning apps and web products.

They made the perfect team to bring more women as speakers at tech events. SpeakHerUp also received an honorable mention.

Pairing.Network

Maureen Vogel, a designer and developer, Steve Chen, a Software Engineer, and Tingting Wang, a Student at Georgetown University are building a pair programming locator for women in public spaces.

Pair programming is when two programmers share a single workstation and work side by side. It can be an excellent way to mentor. The mentee can focus on learning and asking questions while the mentor can focus on teaching and giving valuable feedback.

“We make pair programming happen — pair up users with other users to code in public spaces: coffee shops, libraries, and partnered co-working spaces in the language or framework of your choice” — Pairing.Network Team

Xena

Xena is working on peer networking to get younger girls involved in STEAM.

The team of Software Engineers, Briana Slater, Jeffrey Chiang, Charlotte Chen, Courtney Davis are working on making coding and tech approachable for young girls. They showcase github projects that young girls can be inspired by. The young girls can also collaborate on the projects through peer mentoring.

Celebrating Role Models

In this category, participants developed solutions that highlight senior women leaders in tech and tell their stories, with the goal of inspiring girls and younger women to pursue tech careers.

PassionFruit

Cynthia C, an iOS Developer and Sean Hamre, an Android Developer are working on a mobile app highlighting women in tech from different industries.

“PassionFruit is mobile application that celebrates elite women in computing by sharing their technical experiences within their industry. In turn, this will encourage young women who may not have considered a technical career path to now pursue one. Currently, this is an iOS application built from scratch in Swift.” — PassionFruit team

Cynthia and Sean both work for Geico, an insurance company. Coincidentally, my first job was in a similar industry where I built a tool that gathered credit scores from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for an individual and put the data in the same format to be used by a loan processing application.

A lot of people think of Google and Amazon when they think of tech companies. However, tech is used in all sorts of industries. For eg. banks such as Capital One, or science organizations such as the US Geological Survey or museums such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This application is a great way to highlight women in tech as well as the variety of industries where tech is needed.

SmartBridge

Hua Wang is an entrepreneur and CEO of SmartBridg. With SmartBridge, she wants to inspire and highlight women in tech with a focus on their morning routines.

“SmartBridge spotlights senior women leaders in tech and their morning routines to inspire young women to become entrepreneurs and tech leaders.” — Hua Wang

I love learning morning routines of leaders. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about women entrepreneurs. One of the routines I’ve adapted is making a list of priorities each morning before starting work. That helps me be more productive. I’ve not looked into morning routines of developers. I would love to know how other developers get into the zone.

Ada’s Journey

Ada’s Journey is a game that helps girls and young women learn the personal stories of senior women leaders in this industry. The game was created by River Liu, a Gameplay Programmer and Independent Game Developer.

River’s work was impressive. In under 8 hours, she was able to create a game which processed a video and added obstacles for little Ada to jump through to listen to an inspiring video.

River has become my personal hero. Even though I am a developer, I’m always in awe of people who build games. She is only the second women game developer I’ve met in my life. Seriously, check out her website, all of her work is soo cool.

What’s Next?

When you put women, allies and mentors together, look at what they can accomplish. All of the teams have done some very important work. I hope they continue to work on these projects and continue to receive the support that they need.

Disclaimer: I partnered with Capital One on this event to highlight and support women in tech. Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about Capital One, visit www.capitalonecareers.com.

Photos/Images by Melissa Kelly Photography. Video by BiFocal: Like-Minded Creatives.

Jessica Dembe on How to Get the Most out of a Bootcamp

Tell us about yourself

I work as an Associate Technical Consultant at Blackstone Technology Group (@BTGFed). I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Community Health from the University of Maryland, College Park and I recently graduated from the Front-End Engineering program at The Iron Yard.

My tech related projects include my iFeel app and trying to keep up to speed with JavaScript.  In my free time, I like to cook, try peanut-free restaurants and recipes, and figuring out ways to stay active without being bored.

How did you first get started in your career in tech?

I have always been fascinated by anything digital. I got interested in front-end development after I took a Fundamentals of Graphic Design class at my local community college. After this class, I realized I wanted a career with a mix of design, technology, and functionality.

That is when I started to re-learn HTML and CSS. I realized that I was missing the functionality aspect and I started to learn JavaScript. For a few months, I used as many self-teaching resources as I could find, but found it hard to stay on track.

There is another part to this– I started to work with my former company’s web development team on proposals and became really interested in the work they do. Our director advised me on what I should learn and how I should proceed in regards to self-studying.

He suggested that I look into coding bootcamps. At first, I scoffed at it because the price tag seemed so steep, but realized that it would be the best way to get into the field quickly as I did not have a CS degree.

What is the advantage of attending a bootcamp?

A bootcamp gives you the fundamentals in whatever tech field you want to go to. Bootcamps aren’t just about code–there are data science bootcamps, web design bootcamps, security bootcamps, mobile development bootcamps, etc.

They can help you launch your career in a very short amount of time compared to getting a degree. Which is awesome because not everyone can go to school for a computer science degree for financial or time reasons.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending a bootcamp?

First and foremost, give it a good amount thought. It takes a lot of time and money. The decision shouldn’t be made lightly. For myself, I started considering the idea of attending a bootcamp in April 2016, but I didn’t actually start until October of that same year. I had to consider the money that I would lose once I quit my job to attend bootcamp. I had to think about what I wanted a successful experience to look like, and how I would pay for it all!

Second–consider the tech landscape of where you live or where you want to work. Attend meetups (if you can!) to learn about the the tech community and what is in demand. Let people know that you are thinking about going to a coding bootcamp. This is a great chance to start building up your network before you have to use your network.

If you don’t live in a place where there is a tech scene or if you don’t live where you want to work, leverage online groups, websites and slack channels! This will really help you figure out what you want to learn and what you want to get out of your bootcamp experience.

After you have all that, start looking for bootcamps, but have questions ready about each program. When I was looking at bootcamp programs, I came ready with questions:

  • How long have your instructors been in the field?
  • What does the curriculum look like?
  • What kind of supports do you provide to students after graduation?
  • What has been the job placement rate?

What I’m trying to say is ask ALL of the questions before making a decision.

Coding bootcamps are an investment and you need to feel comfortable about your decision before you sign on the dotted line! I had to be sure that my instructor was about students being successful. I had to be sure that there was a decent alumni network, and that I was interested in what was being taught.

As for what you the reader should be looking for in a coding bootcamp, that is up to you and what you want to do afterwards. Many people want to switch careers. Some people go to a bootcamp so that they can learn what they need to know about tech with the intent of starting a business.

I would definitely say that when you go out and interview bootcamps, talk about how your goals align with what they are teaching. If for some reason the visions don’t not align, then it may not be a match, and that’s okay. Keep looking until you find a fit for you.

What can we do to get the most out of a bootcamp?

Ask questions if you are the least bit lost. My program was a 12-week program and it was very easy for someone to get lost. I made sure that I came in with questions for my instructor. I even asked questions to confirm my understanding of things! Good instructors are there to help you grow during your bootcamp, use them as a resource.

If an assignment seems too easy, don’t be afraid to ask for something more challenging. I remember in my program, we always had the regular challenge along with adventure mode, epic mode, and nightmare mode. If you feel that you finished something that was “easy” don’t be afraid to take on a challenge because this will help you learn something new and help you learn new concepts after you get your first job.

Also, get to know your cohort. Help each other out and get to know them. I say this because some will become your friends. They will also be a part of your professional network. I have passed along job leads to my classmates. You never know how you can help someone and how someone else can help you.

DSC00026

You found your job immediately after your bootcamp. What advice would you give to bootcamp graduates for finding their first job quickly?

I went to meetups and let it be known that I was a coding bootcamp student who is looking for a job. I mean, that is how I got the job that I have now! So definitely attend meetups and let people know about your story.

Also, get to know other people and their story. You might leave a meetup with a new job lead and potentially a new friend. How cool is that?

I also watched the jobs channel in the slack groups that I am in. I’m on the Women Who Code DC, DCTech, Black Code Collective slack groups and each of them has an active channel that is dedicated to job announcements. I watched every single jobs board regularly and applied to positions that I wanted to have, even if I didn’t meet every single requirement.

What resources did you find most helpful?

Codecademy, Code School, Pramp for preparing for technical interviews, Codewars to build up your problem-solving skills, Reddit is also a good resource. For new coders, I recommend /r/learnprogramming/ and r/webdev/.

Where can we find you?

You can find me on Twitter. I have a blog where I do a lot of reflection at jesscancode.com.

 

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