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My Life in Tech: Q&A with Software Quality Engineer Elena Carter

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Elena Carter talks about how she became a Software Quality Engineer, including programming in elementary school and the toughest part about learning to be a developer.
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InformIT: What is your current job?

Elena Carter: Software Quality Engineer at Pearson Education.

InformIT: What are you working on now, specifically? 

Elena: Automated web testing eCommerce sites using Ruby, Selenium, and Cucumber.

InformIT: Why did you decide to become a programmer  – how did you initially get introduced to it?

Elena: My earliest memory was writing a program in Logo, to draw with Turtle in elementary school.  I drew the coolest picture in the class by using a loop to make a fifty point star.

InformIT: Did you have any particular role models – someone you looked at and thought, “I want to do what that person is doing”?

Elena: I didn't know any programmers growing up.  I was attracted to the diversity of opportunities a Computer Science degree can lead to.

InformIT: Did you go to school for your profession?  If so, where and what did you major in?  If not, where did you learn your skills?

Elena: Yes, I attended Purdue University and graduated with a BS in Computer Science.

InformIT: What’s been the toughest part of learning to be a developer?

Elena: The classes I took were very demanding and consumed many weekends programming.  At the time, it was disappointing for me having to program in the computer lab while my friends enjoyed the weekend. 

InformIT: Was there ever a point where you were close to throwing in the towel and taking things in a different direction?

Elena: No, I knew all my hard work in school would pay off in the future.

InformIT: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Elena: Every project is different and new technologies are always being introduced.

InformIT: What are the major benefits of being a software developer?

Elena: Many if not all industries require software. I've worked for software, lending, voting machine, and consulting companies. I also enjoy learning something new everyday.

InformIT: What are your favorite resources for learning more about a technology topic?  

Elena: My resources are pretty specific to the technology. For Ruby, http://www.ruby-doc.org is my go to site. 

InformIT: What’s the best way to dive into something new, like learning a new language?

Elena: I start off with a small and simple program to write, to learn the syntax, and grow from there.

InformIT: Do you regularly attend conferences or are you a part of tech community organizations to help you stay up to date on the latest technology trends?  If yes, which ones are most useful?

Elena: In my local area, I utilize meetup.com to find groups of programmers by technology/language I'm currently working in. I have also been a member of AST (Association of Software Testing). 

InformIT: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of becoming a programmer?

Elena: It's OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.

InformIT: What do you do for fun?

Elena: I play bass guitar in a pop/punk band and I'm working on building a MAME machine running on a Raspberry Pi.  All of my other hobbies I used to enjoy have been replaced by my one year old son.

For more articles and resources, visit our Women in Technology page.

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