Women in Web: from Ledgy Trainees to Junior Developers

In August of 2020 we launched our Women in Web traineeship, our goal was to empower more women to pursue careers in STEM and further diversify our team at Ledgy. The project was a success!

Mission Accomplished!

Women in Web was born from our founder’s desire to motivate, encourage, and support those that otherwise might not have pursued their career in tech. We wanted to encourage more women to enter the field. And if all went well, we would have the opportunity to diversify our team with exceptional candidates.

Applicants came in from a wide range of backgrounds, each with their own story and promise of future potential. It was difficult to make a decision. So difficult that in the end we decided to go with the final two candidates.

Mariana Cely and Xiao Sun were chosen to take part in our intensive traineeship designed to build on their current skills and take their interest in tech to the next level.

It’s been more than six months since their first day and we’re excited to announce Mariana and Xiao are now junior software engineers at Ledgy.

Our mission was accomplished! And this is the interview on their experience.

Mariana Cely
Xiao Sun

Hello Mariana, Hello Xiao, congratulations to you both for making it through the internship. Can you tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to apply for Ledgy’s Women in Web program?

Mariana: I graduated from my master in Mathematics last year. During my studies, I followed several programming courses and got acquainted with algorithms and the “computer way” to write and solve problems. I mainly used Matlab and C++ and was quite curious about other programming languages, so I took the first Covid lockdown as an opportunity to learn some more. I realized that I enjoyed coding and wanted to be trained professionally. Ledgy’s traineeship appeared to be perfect for me, where I could learn while working in a young and dynamic team. I thought I’d mainly learn about writing lines of code, but it didn’t stop there at all. I have been trained to understand Ledgy’s goals, business, and values as well.

Xiao: I finished my master’s study in Transport Planning last summer. During my study I have used R and Python to do some simple data analysis and I found it fascinating that we could write some lines of code to get the desired results which has improved the efficiency so much. Meanwhile, I know I was just writing some freestyle code and always wanted to improve my coding skills professionally. I also found Ledgy’s mission very interesting, which could definitely accelerate innovation by democratizing equity for start-ups. So, when I saw this opportunity I didn’t hesitate to apply for it.

Did the traineeship live up to your expectations?

Mariana: The only way I could say it didn’t is that, instead of calming my curiosity, it made me feel like I have a lot more to learn. Working in a team, facing some problems to solve on the daily, collaborating with other teams such as the Customer Experience team, are all things I didn’t imagine I would do. I learned more than I expected, but my curiosity did not lower, it raised.

Xiao: Yes, it is even beyond my expectation. Ledgy is growing very fast, yet provides an open and non-hierarchical environment for career-starters. During this six months I received so much support from the team in every aspect. I could set aside some time every day to learn how to code properly and do some hands-on tasks at the same time to apply what I have learned in practice. Whenever I had a question, there was always someone there from the team to answer it in no time.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the last three months?

Mariana: The scariest moment of the traineeship was the first time I was assigned responsibility over Tech Support: you have to answer questions and trace bugs that are directly spotted by customers. You’ve got to stand in their shoes, reproduce their steps, try and get the errors, all of this in the minimal possible amount of time, since answers and solutions have to be provided. It didn’t go so bad in the end, because the other developers were there to support me in supporting our customers. This often happens in Ledgy: one morning you want to assign a task to your favorite developer, but they are busy, so you ask a trainee, or a new joiner, whether they are interested. It was the scariest moment, but it felt great to see that the rest of the team trusted me.

Xiao: The hardest part for me was to build mind maps of Ledgy’s product and the code we use. Ledgy’s product is not easy to understand if one doesn’t have much equity management knowledge beforehand. Also as a fast-growing company, many new improvements and features are added each week, which was also challenging for newbies like us to grasp. To help us mitigate those challenges, our mentor Marius and the head of business Armon provided us with two AMA sessions each week to answer questions from us on Ledgy’s source code and business terms, respectively. Those sessions are useful and helped us conquer the challenges very fast.

So what does it feel like to accomplish your goal of becoming a junior engineer?

Mariana: It feels strange to be given that name, I still feel like there is a lot to learn, but I guess that’s why there is a “junior” in “junior engineer”. I am looking forward to constantly learning, and having the freedom of orienting my studying towards the topics that interest me the most.

Xiao: It has been a very challenging and fulfilling journey so far. It’s a never-ending task to improve oneself, becoming a junior engineer is only one small step and I will further challenge myself as a web engineer together with Ledgy.

What about the startup life, how is it working at a fast-growing company?

Mariana: “Fast-growing” was written in the job offer, but I hadn’t fully realized what it meant until I started working at Ledgy. It’s amazing to work in a place that is constantly evolving. Something that is unique to Ledgy is its flexibility. The teams are always happy to try new processes for working, communicating or sharing responsibilities. Maybe it is because I am used to this flexibility now, but I see it as an essential feature for growth in a startup.

Xiao: Ledgy really moves at a fast pace! I am excited every day to see the increase in the amount of companies we are supporting as they choose Ledgy for our stable product and fascinating features. That’s exactly what I love about start-up life — the growth is exciting, you know you have contributed and you are part of it!

We have to talk about your Ledgy emoji! 🙂 We all get one; what’s the story behind yours?

Mariana: Oh, mine is called Mariana chocolating.

Mariana Chocolating

It’s an animated rabbit delighted to have a first bite of a chocolate bar. The story is quite simple: I eat chocolate all the time. It is a very controlled addiction, but I do feel strange if after a meal I can’t have my small chocolate square.

Xiao: Mine is a running cat bus from the Ghibli movie My Neighbor Totoro.

Xiao in Action

I studied transportation and am a big fan of Miyazaki’s movies and watched almost all of them. I also love the name of my emoji a lot – Xiao in action – as I am trying my best to fulfill my responsibilities and on the way to be a better web engineer. 🙂

And what’s the next step — what does the future hold for your career?

Mariana: I want to grow both as a software engineer and as an equity expert. The complexity of Ledgy highlights the ecosystem for startup founding worldwide. I keep learning about portfolios, pools or options everyday and I find it fascinating to think that those concepts are common patterns in companies.

Xiao: I hope to grow into a more experienced web engineer at Ledgy. After these past six months I see Ledgy’s huge potential to grow and I believe we will gain huge success in the near future on the journey to help democratize the equity of employees and empower the start-up eco-system.

Can you imagine yourself building a control software for space elevators in the future?

Mariana: Of course! If you don’t ultimately aim at the space, what are you ultimately aiming at?

Xiao: Same for me! It will be a perfect job for me with a combination of software engineering and transport engineering!

We also invited our CTO and Co-founder, Timo, and the mentor of the Women in Web, Marius, to share some of their insights on this program.

Welcome Timo and Marius!

Hey Timo, as CTO and one of the founders of Ledgy, could you share with us the background of this program?

Timo: Sure! Zurich is still a pretty new place in terms of ecosystem for SaaS startups. So finding excellent engineers is not an easy task. Finding excellent female engineers is obviously even harder. Since we want to build one of the leading engineering teams in Europe, it was important to try and evaluate new opportunities. Going for a traineeship solved two problems: we can hire really strong candidates while at the same time trying keep our product team diverse. Zurich also has one of the best technical universities in Europe, so the pool of talented young people is really good. In the end, both Mariana and Xiao started at Ledgy right after finishing their studies at ETH.

With the success of our Women in Web traineeship, we have established a new path to find the people that help us build a really good product. Personally, I would also be super happy to have Ledgy act as a role model for building engineering teams. Maybe in the future, having a traineeship program simply becomes the standard way to grow a team and build things that are hard to build?

Hi Marius, you are the lead engineer at Ledgy and mentor of our two trainees. What was the most challenging part for you in this six-month traineeship?

Marius: First, it was a pleasant journey to interact with our trainees on a weekly basis. Definitely one of my highlights each week!

The most challenging part? To mediate the expectations set on both Mariana and Xiao on being onboarded fast and to already contribute to our app development.

To solve this, we have setup a study plan with individual weekly checkins with both of them. On the other side, me and the founders we had “expectation management” meetings, where I was challenged to take our Trainees outside of the comfort zone more often.

To achieve all this we had to find the appropriate tasks for them to work on: at the beginning mostly small tasks and bug fixes. The whole development team paired often with the Trainees, mostly in the first 3–4 months, switching pairs weekly so they could learn from each one of us on different topics: from how we use our tools, how we test and review code, to how we think and write code. We would often delegate part of the problems to solve to them, and we would be there to give feedback and guidance.

After three months our two trainees joined forces and worked on their own epic feature, which took roughly 2–3 weeks to complete. Now they are at a stage where they can do most of the work alone on mid-size features which take up to a week.

Our traineeship is a success, and our initial team size of 5 developers (including the CTO) was just right to allow us to onboard and properly train 2 new trainees. Our program was a success!

Thank you Timo and Marius, for putting together this great program. The impact you have created will reach far beyond Ledgy.

And to Mariana & Xiao, this was a great interview! You both have a bright future ahead of you and the entire team at Ledgy is happy to have you.

20 May 2021

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