Tech Together Boston (F.K.A. SheHacks Boston) is Boston’s largest all-female and non-binary hackathon. The event aims to bring together and empower femme and non-binary individuals interested in tech by providing a welcoming, collaborative environment where they can thrive and explore careers in software engineering, product development, and design. The event offers three days of workshops, networking, and team building events for participants. Wayfair was the 2019 title sponsor and sponsored two hack challenges: Best Hack for Housing Inequality and Best Use of Wayfair’s 3D API.
Wayfair’s involvement in Tech Together stems from our commitment to a culture of inclusivity equal opportunity. No matter who you are, Wayfair wants the world to know that it is a place you can call home. We’re a community of innovators, risk-takers, and trailblazers who celebrate our differences, and know that our unique perspectives make us stronger, smarter, and well-positioned for success. We value and rely on the collective voices of our employees, customers, community, and suppliers to help guide us as we build a better Wayfair – and world – for all. Every voice, every perspective matters.
Tech Together Boston sat down with two of our women software engineers at Wayfair, Emily Roth and Erin Esco, to learn about their journeys as women in tech to further share with the participants of the hackathon.
Emily Roth, Software Engineering Manager at Wayfair, started her journey in tech on the design side of things. She began working as a web designer, focused on Photoshop and building websites for her high school clubs. She was even honored with the Girl Scout’s most prestigious Gold Award for a website she built that focused on recycling in her local neighborhood!
Emily began her college career in Information Technology and Web Sciences. During college, she had two internships with Wayfair. The first was with the Storefront team, which looks after our customer facing website and apps; she had an exciting opportunity to make an impact on what the customer sees when shopping on Wayfair.com. She was given a high level of responsibility and put through rigorous training and looks back on that time as a great experience that helped her along her journey.
The second internship involved working on infrastructure solutions, making tools for other engineers. She discovered that there was a level of freedom to do the creative things she wanted to do without being confined to one product. Emily started full-time at Wayfair and as her team evolved into Development Platforms, she grew with it and was able to transition seamlessly into more satisfying work. This is the part of the Wayfair culture that really resonates with the people who work here, and represents an agile mindset about how you can navigate your career path and do your best work. She found that taking on more responsibilities, and conquering engineering challenges as an individual, while also managing a team, contributed to her rise in the organization. Emily encourages women to speak up and reach out in order to pursue their goals.
Words of Wisdom from Emily
Emily encourages women to explore side projects, big and small, and contribute to open source tools. “This is a great way to build on your hands-on experience and become part of the life cycle of changes happening. You can learn so much by taking that approach.” She also advocated for online tutorials, so that you can start to establish a discipline of continuous learning in your life. Emily attributes her ongoing success at Wayfair to keeping her tech skills fresh using these tools. And the results have proved that it works: While at Wayfair she has worked on a tool that all web stack engineers are now using. That product release was a very proud moment that she will soon relive when version 2.0 is released next!
Wayfair is dedicated to building a vibrant culture where you can feel like you are working with the best; Emily believes that it really makes a difference in the projects you work on daily. She enjoys the spirit of innovation at Wayfair, the ability to have a tangible effect on things, and dedicating some of her time to learning and exploring new ideas during the workday.
Erin Esco, Software Engineer at Wayfair, started her studies in Bio-med Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, interested in working on prosthetics one day. As part of her program, she was required to take a Computer Science course for Bio-med Engineering. She took the class and was surprised to discover how much she enjoyed it, so ended up taking another Computer Science class just for fun. At that point, Erin was inspired to make a courageous choice and switch her course of studies half-way through the Bio-med program to focus on Computer Science. That, in turn, led her to several interesting internship programs including DNA sequencing programming, Amazon robotics, and ultimately an internship at Wayfair. After her hard work as an intern, she landed an offer to return to the Wayfair team full-time after graduation to pick up where she left off on the Storefront Landing Experience team.
One of Erin’s proudest achievements has been pitching an idea that ultimately went live. She envisioned a style quiz landing page and partnered with the marketing and social platforms to make it a reality, which she described as an incredibly satisfying experience.
Words of Wisdom from Erin
“Take the biggest variety of courses, because when you graduate you will know about a lot of subdomains of Computer Science. You might not know exactly what you want to pursue until you expose yourself to it.” The most valuable thing she did to set herself up for success was to try different types of internships, leading her to make the unexpected connection at Wayfair where she was able to pursue something she felt truly passionate about.
One of the things she now loves most about working at Wayfair is that they appreciate that “a good idea is a good idea” no matter where it comes from. It doesn’t matter what level you are at in the organization, or how long you have been there, innovation is recognized. There’s an emphasis placed on collaboration that allows team members to really take pride in the work they do together, and that makes her working life a quality life.
“Identify and reach out to someone you get along with and whose work you respect and admire.” As women in tech, it’s also an important reminder that we can play that role for each other by offering support and opportunities whenever possible.
There are many women in tech, like Erin and Emily, who come from all different paths and are willing to support each other by sharing their advice and stories. Tech Together Boston was a successful and inspiring event and Wayfair can’t wait to be a part of it again next year.