Employee Spotlight: April Neal, Software Engineer
In this blog series, we talk to WP Engine employees to learn more about their roles, what they love about the city they work in, and hear from them what they like most about working at WP Engine. In this interview, we talk to April Neal, a Software Engineer at WP Engine’s Austin headquarters.
Can you explain your role at WP Engine?
I work as a software engineer; more specifically, my team is dedicated to building new features for customers. The last project I worked on brought free SSL certificates to customers using Let’s Encrypt and supported developer workflows with workspace groupings and environment labels.
What do you enjoy most about work at WP Engine?
At WP Engine, we’re a rapidly growing company that’s receptive to everyone’s ideas. Being somewhere your ideas are heard and valued is really rewarding. It’s also amazing being part of a culture so focused on their core values.
How has WP Engine helped your career development?
The Engineering department at WPE doesn’t shy away from new technologies. We’re continuing to evaluate and adopt the best frameworks and languages to solve our technical challenges. We help each other learn with code reviews, regular discussions of software best practices, and a lot of pair programming.
The engineering department lives the core value of “Where the Best Get Better.” We have a weekly meeting called Grown Up Devs (originally Junior Devs prior to some well-deserved promotions) where we discuss and implement design patterns, algorithms, and new technologies. There’s a lot of value in teaching each other, as well as having a safe space to ask questions. All levels of engineers are welcome to attend and share.
We also have a bi-weekly engineering meeting designed to share accomplishments and filled with lightning talks in a variety of formats. Some of the regulars are “Tech Debt Storytime”, “Security Tip of the Week”, and the passing on of the “Test-Ability Goat” to someone who went above and beyond in improving test coverage.
What project has been the most fun to work on?
Working on features requested by customers is really rewarding. There’s immediate adoption! But the project that’s been the most fun was a Hackathon project called Lunchmeet. It pairs up employees each week to meet for lunch or coffee. It’s been really exciting to see the company stay connected as we grow. It gives a face to “Finance” or “Sales” and allows us to feel more like a team than separate departments with different goals.
What does WP Engine do differently to promote diversity within the engineering department?
One of the reasons I was excited to join WP Engine was the existing diversity. A majority of our executives are women. A majority of our engineering managers are women. Combined with the culture of emphasizing respect that stems from our core values, it’s a really amazing place to work.
To maintain the diversity within the engineering department, we have a blind interview process.
Beyond the engineering department, our SHEroes group hosts events to highlight leadership in all forms and provide opportunities to discuss the challenges ensuring diversity in the tech world. In the first year, we’ve hosted discussion groups on conflict resolution and unconscious biases, sponsored Q&A panels with the leadership team to have the chance to informally hear their stories and solicit their advice and we regularly collaborate with other empowerment and diversity groups across Austin.
WPE also participates in Austin Pride and is a regular sponsor of the ATX Diversity in Tech Meetup.
What advice would you give someone new to the tech world?
You can do it! It takes time for everyone to find their way, and we all learn differently. The tech industry is huge and growing. It has space and a need for a lot of diverse perspectives. Stick with it!
Favorite thing to do in Austin?
Austin has such a vibrant changing restaurant scene. I enjoy the never-ending search for the best ramen, BBQ, and local hangout spots.
Favorite holiday of the year and why?
New Years because it’s a time for re-prioritizing, setting goals, and having a fresh take on life.
WP Engine is currently hiring for positions in Engineering & DevOps at our Austin headquarters. See here for the full range of careers WP Engine is hiring: wpengine-careers.com
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