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The journey of Pinterest Apprentice Engineers
Our Pinterest Apprenticeship Program is an opportunity for candidates from non-traditional backgrounds and those who face barriers of entry into the tech industry to experience Engineering at Pinterest. Learn more about the program from Apprenticeship Alumni through their responses to a series of questions.
What led you to the Pinterest Apprenticeship Program?
Alison Quaglia, Software Engineer II
Hi! I'm Alison Quaglia, a Software Engineer on the Logged Out Product team, working on the Pinterest website. I joined Pinterest just over three years ago as an Apprentice after a career change and coding bootcamp. I've been a passionate Pinner for many years, using it almost daily for inspiration and collection (vegan recipes, yay!). I always had Pinterest on my list of dream companies to work for. I felt that Pinterest was unique because I found joy while using it, and instead of focusing on comparison to others, it was always about helping you discover new interests and ideas to become the best version of yourself.
When I started looking for my first tech job, I loved the idea of an apprenticeship and the mentorship/learning aspect that came along with it, so naturally I was thrilled when I learned that Pinterest had a program. I applied immediately but didn't expect to get very far in the application process, as I knew it would be extremely competitive. When I made it to the final round, I was so nervous that I actually considered canceling the interview since I felt so sure that I wouldn't get the offer! Luckily I decided to try, and everyone I interviewed with was so kind and supportive that I quickly felt at ease. When I got the call offering me the role later on, I literally jumped up and down in excitement. I actually had another job offer at the time for a full time, non-apprentice role, but I knew that Pinterest was where I wanted to be, even without the guarantee of a full time offer at the end of the program. I was lucky to have the most incredible mentor and team, and they supported me so much throughout the apprenticeship. It’s now been three years and I'm still so grateful to be here, working on a product that I love, with a mission I believe in and with the most incredible people too! For more about my apprenticeship experience, check out the CodeNewbie podcast episode I did in 2022.
What skills did you learn during the program?
Tyler Jones, Software Engineer I
What were some challenges that you faced and how were you able to overcome them?
Alexandra Marks, Software Engineer I
Hello! My name is Alexandra Marks and I am a Front End Developer on the Advertising at Scale team at Pinterest. I came into the apprenticeship program from an extremely unrelated field; I was a performer for ten years and had no formal experience with technology, advertising or the corporate world in general. This led to a myriad of challenges and what felt like a floodgate of information when I started in my role as an Apprentice Engineer. I was unsure of how what I learned during my time in a SWE bootcamp fit into the larger architecture at Pinterest, how campaigns were built and used on our platform by advertisers and I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know how to navigate around Google Suite.
Despite being in completely unfamiliar territory, I learned over time that I could overcome these challenges by reaching out to my peers and remembering that the apprenticeship program places an emphasis on learning and growth. I was honest with my teammates and management and let them know how I was feeling. I was reassured many times that there were no stupid questions and that they meant it. People at Pinterest are an incredible resource for knowledge and support, and it’s thanks to my teammates, other engineers and Pinployees that I was able to get the answers to my many, many… many questions. I’m forever thankful for their kindness and patience during my time as an apprentice and beyond, and it helps to know that there is always an ear for any other challenges that may come my way!
Kevin Browne - Software Engineer I
Hi, I’m Kevin, an Engineer on the Stream Processing Platform team here at Pinterest. Our team is responsible for powering the many streaming applications processing billions of records all in real-time. Prior to joining Pinterest, I worked in Supply Chain at a large retailer.
I would easily say becoming confident and comfortable as an engineer was a formidable challenge for me throughout my apprenticeship. As other apprentices can attest to, adjusting from one profession to another can be difficult in general. Then when you couple in understanding how to be a software engineer in a production level environment, it can be an overwhelming experience. You can easily fall into the habit of not just comparing your ability to senior engineers, but to virtually any other coworker who took the traditional path to becoming a SWE. One of the important pieces to overcoming such feelings is to have a strong support system within my team. My manager and mentor are incredible and have been instrumental in my development, technically and mentally. Completing smaller tasks and features are what helped me alleviate those thoughts, it allowed me to believe that I was more than capable and qualified to be here. Another challenge which will present itself all the time is diving into new code bases! Production level code bases will be filled with complexities that take time to digest. Always be patient with yourself when learning and never be afraid to ask questions!
Piggybacking from the last two points, operating under the unknown was an uncomfortable feeling. Technology is also evolving and it’s fairly common for me to come across a question I do not have the immediate answer for. With time, you start to become comfortable with not knowing but understanding that you have the ability to find the answers you are looking for.
Jose Oropeza - Software Engineer I
Hi, I'm Jose, a Software Engineer on the Experimentation team at Pinterest. Prior to joining Pinterest, I worked as a Civil Engineer designing and constructing potable water projects. During my apprenticeship, I encountered various challenges that went beyond the technical aspects of coding. One of the biggest hurdles was learning to become comfortable with not knowing everything and being okay with asking questions or seeking help.
Although, I was fortunate to be part of a supportive team with helpful colleagues, I often found myself worrying about taking up too much of their time or asking too many seemingly basic questions. Despite reassurances from my team that it was normal, this concern persisted. To address this, I developed strategies to alleviate my anxieties. I started taking meticulous notes on concepts and procedures that I might forget and made sure to thoroughly research potential solutions before seeking assistance. Additionally, reviewing small pull requests and observing that even the most experienced developers make mistakes provided me with reassurance. Participating in meetings where it was evident that no one possessed all the answers further reinforced the realization that imposter syndrome is a common experience in the field.
Dealing with imposter syndrome is a gradual process that takes time and understanding. It is important to acknowledge that it is a genuine struggle many face and to actively work towards building confidence and embracing the growth mindset. By continuously learning, seeking support, and reminding myself that making mistakes is part of the learning journey, I was able to overcome the challenges associated with imposter syndrome and thrive in my role as an Apprentice Engineer.
Learn more about the Engineering Apprenticeship Program here.