Galvanize Web Development Graduate Q&A: SolarCity's Jaya Darbhamulla

Galvanize Web Development Graduate Q&A: SolarCity's Jaya Darbhamulla

At Galvanize, our students come fromĀ incredibly diverse backgrounds. From fast food workers to stay-at-home moms, it’s our mission to offer anyone life-changing opportunities through tech education.

We love hearing success stories of our graduates as they move on to new careers in tech and we recently caught up with Jaya Darbhamulla, who graduated from the Galvanize Web Development program late last year. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you first get involved in tech?

Jaya Darbhamulla: While I was in college for environmental science, I started working at an Android app startup called Best Apps Market, but doing non-technical roles. But I was working pretty closely with the engineers, and I really didn’t know anything about code, so I was just poking at it, asking them questions about the job. They were really supportive of my interests, and told me how it was a much better career path than environmental science. So I started taking some coding classes—some college courses and then I self-taught some, mainly just client-side, web browser stuff like HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I liked it a lot, it wasn’t terribly as hard as I thought it would be, and then I got accepted to Galvanize.

What was your experience like at Galvanize?

JD: I was super happy with the curriculum, especially learning Node as well as Rails. I think just learning two different languages in general helps you know the differences between them. Especially since Rails does so much for you under the hood, doing more Node stuff help me learn what was going on under the hood with Rails.

Now you’re working at SolarCity, the solar energy company that Elon Musk helped launch in 2006. What are you doing for them?

JD: My job title is UI Engineer. So that’s exactly what it sounds like. I’m not just writing the design stuff, it’s also writing a .NET client-side web application. So right now I’m doing a lot of C-sharp and .NET, as well as, of course, everything in the browser. My team is building sales tools for SolarCity employees in order to make things more efficient and save the company money down the road.

What’s something that has really helped you succeed on the job?

JD: I think many of the things I learned at Galvanize have been helpful at my job. Especially the overall high-level “what goes into a web application.” Like, not just syntax and specific things like function, but really a high-level picture. I’m the only UI engineer on this team, so I’m working with all these other people and I have to understand how the entire project works. There’s no one else I can consult. So learning more high-level concepts is great. I also use Angular on the front-end, and we were taught Angular at Galvanize, so that’s been really helpful.

What are the other roles on your team?

JD: There are two girls in testing, one woman specifically testing my code, and another one who literally just got hired today, so I’m not sure what she’s doing yet. Then we have a couple folks working on APIs, two data guys who are syncing data from multiple databases, and then there’s a product manager and an engineering manager.

What has your personal experience in the tech world been like?

JD: Honestly it’s all been good. Especially since women are a minority, if you’re able to show that you’re able to do it, I really think things have changed. Not everywhere, of course, but I think you’re actually special if you’re a woman and you know how to code, and you can do it well. So my experience has been overall positive. I do know there are negative stories I’ve heard, but I haven’t had any myself.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I definitely want to cover other areas of the stack. I don’t want to be totally client-side for my entire career, so I think expanding to other areas of stack for sure. But beyond that I have no idea.

Do you have any words of wisdom to pass on to someone wanting to get involved in tech?

JD: I think really the biggest advice I can give anyone is that you’ll have a lot of anxiety, especially if you don’t know that many people in technology. I think a lot of women in my class in particular had a lot of anxiety. It really wasn’t that coding was difficult, but that this was a major change in our lives. So my advice is just to trust the instructors and take it day-by-day.

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