Cloudflare TV

Cloudflare U: Womenflare

Presented by Colleen Noonan, Arushi Shah, Irene XiangYi Chen, Bani Singh, Bowon Yang
Originally aired on 

Cloudflare U is a new series for students interested in learning about roles and opportunities within the company. The series will cover all facets of Cloudflare from our technology to our culture. Each week, we will have new episodes with guests from a variety of departments. Thanks for tuning in, we are excited to share our experiences!


Transcript (Beta)

All right, so welcome to Cloudflare University. This is sponsored by the Womenflare group at Cloudflare and we're doing this special segment for Grace Hopper.

We've got a number of folks that are employees of Cloudflare currently and we have some folks who are past interns from Cloudflare.

So just I will name them and then maybe they'll introduce themselves and what they do at Cloudflare.

So Arushi and then Colleen, that's me and then Irene and Bani and Bowon.

All right Arushi, you want to explain what you what you do at Cloudflare?

Yes, so I'm Arushi. I'm an engineer on the bot management team here at Cloudflare.

So with me and my team we work on the bot management product.

Great and then just introducing myself and this is probably some sort of order but I am Colleen Noonan and I'm a manager of the SRE team at Cloudflare and I've been at Cloudflare for about two years and I'm happy to go into that more.

Oh by the way, if anyone thinks of any questions that they would like to ask, we are available at live studio at or if you are a Cloudflare employee just reach out to the Cloudflare tv group and we will take those questions.

So live studio at Cloudflare tv. All right and sorry to disrupt in that way but Irene, can you take us from here?

Yeah, go. Yeah, over the summer I was a software engineer intern on the bots team.

Arushi was actually my mentor and yeah I was working on reinforcement learning for bot detection.

Awesome and Bonnie? Hello, so my name is Bonnie and I was a PM intern on the bot management team and some of the things I worked on was also the bot management detection system.

Yeah, I love that team actually. We get along really well.

All right, Boan, tell us about yourself. Hello, my name is Boan. I am a systems engineer at a security engineering team at Cloudflare.

We build SSL, TLS certificate products and we build pipelines to issue and manage and deploy the certificates, there's millions of certificates to the edge.

Yeah, that's fantastic.

All right, so we just want to talk about a bit about why we're here in terms of talking a bit about our careers and how we've gotten here and then for our returning interns here to talk about what your internship was like at Cloudflare and just make it pretty casual.

So maybe we should go around and talk about why did we decide to join Cloudflare?

I'll just pick people randomly every time. All right, Irene, so why did you do your internship at Cloudflare?

I think it was like a mix of like at the Grace Hopper booth they had like really cute Superman capes so that tied into the idea of like the mission of like making the Internet a better place and on top of that there were pretty like good planned projects.

So the entire like interview process was like very closely fit with like between your skills of the actual project.

So I think like all of that tied together and like that's how I decided Cloudflare.

Nice and Bonnie? Yeah, so before I met the Cloudflare team at Grace Hopper, I had checked out their blog multiple times.

The Cloudflare blog is super active.

It's constantly shared on Twitter whenever new and cool things come out and it just seemed like some really, really smart people were working there.

So at Grace Hopper I made sure to casually walk by at the booth.

I like that casually walk by.

Bowan, why did you decide to seek Cloudflare as a full time job? I wanted, biggest thing is I wanted a company with some mission that I can have some, some, I could have pride in myself working for something good and Cloudflare was definitely the one that has the right mission and the Cloudflare, the size of the company when I joined it was just perfect to, in terms of like balance of growing and also having a good number of senior engineers that I could learn from.

So that's how I really decided to join.

Yeah, yeah. And how big was it when you joined?

It was, I joined like an year and a half ago, so about thousand. Okay, that's a good number.

Arushi? Yeah, so I joined Cloudflare in early 2018. So when I interviewed with Cloudflare was like, like late 2017 and I have like a few things on my mind.

I wanted to work for a company that I felt was doing good. Like I wanted my job to do something which I think resonates with everyone here was that Cloudflare's mission really resonated with me.

The second thing was again, the size of the company.

I wanted my first job to be, this was my first job out of school, so I wanted it to be impactful.

And like speaking with the people I interviewed where it was like clear that I would have work that would be impactful.

So I think these were my two main reasons for joining.

Yeah, yeah. I am probably, as a moderator, I don't want to go too much into myself, but maybe I should.

I've been in the industry about 20 years, which is crazy because that makes me sound old, but I will have to say a lot of my reasons resonate with all of you.

Like being with a larger, I'd been at a lot of startups, but this was like the perfect size to not be so big that you didn't know what was going on with the people next to you.

But it was big enough so that it was a growing company.

And there were, as a manager, there were other people who were managers too, so maybe I could grow.

There were directors or people who could, where I could see my career growing longer term.

So that was great.

And then the projects felt technically challenging enough that I could see like not getting bored.

Like there's just, oh, and there's so much within Cloudflare for, if you do find yourself like, oh, I know everything about SRE.

I think I want to try moving into the network team or the DNS team. We're very supportive of working on another team as well, which it means like the knowledge is never ending.

The challenges are never ending, which is fantastic in my view. So, okay.

So to talk generally, so for our Grace audience, like when you think about your career paths, would there be any advice or maybe like advice a mentor or a professor gave you that helped you in your career?

Arushi, do you have anything?

I actually had my like best piece of advice from my mentor during my summer internship, during my master's.

And he had just like done two PhDs at that point.

And it was like, we were talking about, you know what, like my first job should look like.

And he said to look for a company that was, where I would be able to make an impact.

So like, you know, a good size of a company where it's developed enough that I won't really struggle as my first job, but also enough that I still can pick up the ropes of things much more faster than I would at like maybe a more, like a much bigger company.

So I'm really glad I took that advice.

I think it was the best piece of advice I got. Yeah. Yeah. Actually, I would have to say, I know there's a lot of competition when it goes to getting an internship or a first job at a, at one of the big name companies, but you can learn so much being at a small company.

You can, the advantage at a small company is you're doing, you're doing the role of many things and you have an impact.

You have an immediate impact.

You're not just working on a small piece of a large project. So I just, I definitely want to encourage folks who might be listening that if you're excited about tech and you don't get that first job at a name company, that there there's, there's still a big and colorful path in front of you in terms of your career.

And you might end up at that, that big company later on anyway. So Boan, do you have any advice for our, for our graduates?

Yeah, I, I was also at Grace Hoppers for two times before graduating.

And one thing I felt is that you have to just throw yourself at the competition and the job market.

And, and if you're given some good opportunities, then you're lucky and take it and learn the, learn everything from whatever opportunities you get.

And if you have options to choose between companies, I would say choose Goffler.

Yeah. Yeah. There are like tons of learning opportunities and it's really, I would, I would suggest it.

Yeah, I, I, I totally agree.

How about, how about you, Irene? You're, you're back to school now.

You, after, after your internship, like, would you have any advice for preparing for finding that first internship?

Or I guess you're still working on the first job after graduation.

You haven't done that. No, so like not exactly any advice about like, what to do after graduation because I still haven't graduated yet.

But something practical and like if you don't actually have like that much to choose from and you're actually just starting out is to be like consistent with like what you do.

So like if I'm prepping, like prepping for interviews, then like I try to do a little bit every day or a little bit every week.

And so like one thing that helps with that is like keeping like notes or something about like weekly accomplishments and like daily accomplishments.

So then you kind of like look back when like you get stuck and you're just like, okay, so I've still come far.

And like, so, so incrementally at some point you'll like get somewhere far. So yeah.

I think that's great advice. I have done that myself. And, you know, even if you have an interview that maybe doesn't go the way you want it to, you can learn from that.

If you remember the question, write it down later, research it and you'll come back stronger.

So I wouldn't, that's good advice to just keep notes and just keep growing from, from what you learn.

And Bonnie, how about yourself?

Have you had a mentor who's given you some good advice? Yeah, I have. I think the most useful advice that I've gotten is that 80% of life is showing up.

And during my internship at Cloudflare as well, I felt that being responsive, taking every opportunity that you can just, just being present and showing up has gotten me so far in all of my internships.

So even if you feel like things are not moving in the right direction, still show up, do your best.

And, and, you know, if you continue, then you'll get there.

I like that. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I have some advice too, that, that was given to me.

And it may be more important now that everybody's doing the virtual thing, but it said, whenever you feel emotionally, this is my boss at my last company.

If you ever feel emotionally triggered by something, someone says either like a code review that you didn't like how they phrased the comments, or somebody read your words incorrectly in a chat message, always go to phone or, or video chat because so much can be read into text.

Like, and I, this was advice given to me before the pandemic, when everything is now tech space.

And I just want to say like, everybody's got time to take a phone call or to take a video meet.

So if you ever feel overly emotional about something, just reach out to whoever that is, either phone or video.

And it's, it ends up making such an impact because we can get really upset by the tech stuff we write.

And I'll pass that, that little nugget of advice on onto to you folks, because it's surprising how often our, our instinct is to just, oh, I read that you upset me, and I'm going to write back and, you know, it, you know, to sort of put fire into the flames when it could be just a misinterpretation.

So just remember to reach out to folks via video or, or, or phone and you can get, you can usually get to a better place.

So, um, one, one question I wanted to bring up is to our new graduates is how do you get the right support that you might need in your career?

Does anyone have any thoughts about how they've gotten the right support?


I think people with like similar experiences or backgrounds or hobbies or whatnot, tend to like click better.

And then, so usually I reach out to like my classmates and co-workers, and I don't know, I just feel really lucky to have people that like root for me to support me like on days where I'm just like, I don't think I believe in myself like as much.

So as to like how that happened, I'm not exactly sure.

I don't have like any actionable advice, other than just like maybe reach out because people I think are inherently good.

So yeah, I would totally agree with that.

I can go on about that, but if anyone else has some advice for how they've gotten the right support, just jump in.

All right. So I, what I've done is, and I did a lot of thinking about like, where do I want my career to go?

Do I want to go back and get a master's degree?

And often you will find that there are professionals who want to share their knowledge, either through meetups, or you can research professors at universities and say, oh, that person's doing something cool I want to learn more about.

So just usually their email addresses are right there.

So not being afraid to reach out, because the only thing someone could say is, you know, I'm busy or now's not a great time.

But those people who you think like, wow, they're the superstars of, you know, data science.

This is something that I'm speaking for myself.

I really want to learn more about what their career has been like, or what technologies are doing.

Just don't be afraid, because, you know, it's sort of like, the more you put yourself out there, like Irene was saying, the more, the more people will have the opportunity to help.

And often you're giving something to them by allowing them to, to help others.

Like, I know just being a little bit further down the career path than some of the other folks is that as a person who's further along, you get a lot of benefit by teaching others and by raising others in their career.

It just, I would say that's like one of the, my favorite things about being a manager is helping others and, you know, helping them along in their career.

So yeah, I just wanted to pass along that little bit of advice.

But I, you know, I hope support is there for anybody who needs it. And if you, and I know it can also feel very alone as a woman in technology.

So we're out there, you know, just don't be afraid, say hi, you know, go to the meetups, or, you know, reach out via email to somebody who you might want to exchange thoughts with, and you'll build your own community and get your support that way.

Just to move our conversation a bit further along.

There's, there's a question here that I wonder if anybody who has had experience with, like, have you ever felt like you've needed to do anything different or not be yourself to be a successful woman in tech or even a successful person in your career?

You feel like you have to change who you are?

I think I was very lucky that in my undergrad, all the top students were girls.

So, and I was friends with them. So I had, I never thought that women cannot do, or we, you know, we need men's help or something like that.

I've never thought about it that way.

And even in my master's lab, there were more women, female students that I could share knowledge with and experiences.

So, and even now, I have a really good team supporting, and I'm very lucky in that sense.

But I had one experience, like, there, I've, I've had experience that someone saying that we don't want to give jobs to women, because women don't work hard.

I literally heard it.

Like, and I was so angry. And, but I couldn't say anything about it, because it just didn't have words to say about it.

And, you know, so that, so after that hearing that, I felt like I want to work harder, just because his reason was that women don't work hard.

And that's why they, he wants to hire more men. And just, yeah, that way, I had to, like, kind of, at least try to work harder, or, like, go home after boys left.

Yeah, yeah, I have had that experience. Yeah. And, you know, sometimes it can be tough, because people have this idea already of what to expect, you know, not, not working as hard, or not as competent.

And it feels like we have to do a little bit more to get that message across of, like, yeah, I am as good.

I think, like, if, because I was younger at that time, I kind of accepted the message without, like, too much criticism, or like, standing up against it.

But if I heard it now, I would, like, I would be able to say something at least, and just don't accept those messages, or that, like a toxic culture.

And I think that's my advice, like, just be true to yourself.

And there are people who get your work. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah, that's like, if you were to give advice to your younger self, who is just graduating, would you say, don't let anyone talk to you like that?

Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

And so I want to reiterate, too, I think we all can agree that if you want to seat at the table, you should just demand it.

I know there's for myself, too. And as a manager, a lot of the people I've managed, men and women often think they, they don't want to look stupid, they don't want to ask questions, they want to be quiet, and just, like, not make a fuss.

But your voice is important. And if you're thinking about, why does this work this way?

Or what is this? Other people are usually thinking that question, too.

So I definitely want to share that thought that if, if you've got a question, your voice is important.

So definitely share it with others.

So I know we've only got about 10 minutes left. So I definitely wanted to touch on if you were, and maybe we talked a bit about this at the beginning, but what kind of role or what kind of job or internship would you be looking towards if you were a new graduate, or a college student?

Is there any kind of specific thing?

I guess we've talked about a company that is doing good. You know, I guess I also talked about a company of a certain size.

Is there anything we missed? I think culture.

I'm sorry. You can go first, Arushi. Sorry, let's speak over you.

I was just gonna say, culture, like, a company's culture is also pretty important.

You know, when you meet people, especially when you're interviewing with them, you're also kind of like, you're interviewing them as well.

And you want to work with nice people, you want to make sure the culture of the place is nice.

Yeah, yeah.

I thought that too, when I when I interviewed, I think it was like June or something, and Cloudflare changed its signs on the street to be Proudflare, like the name of the company.

And I was like, wow, that's so cool. I love that the company really, you know, supports the ERGs, and even go so far as to changing their branding on the building.

Bonnie, what were you going to say? Yeah, I was going to point out something that I found super important.

And that is making sure that you are working with smart people that you are perhaps going into the room where you're not the smartest one.

Right. And the question always becomes, well, how do I figure out if I'm going into a company like that?

Well, what Arushi said, you are also interviewing them, right?

So going into the interview thinking, which team will I be on?

Maybe meeting team members? Would you go into the right room? I think has helped me immensely.

Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I was wondering if it would be helpful for our audience who's, again, new graduates or looking for an internship, if we should talk a bit about what's our day to day or typical day look like, to talk about the exciting things that we do as a career.

Arushi, what are you thinking?

Oh, well, okay. I guess before the pandemic, my day used to include some sort of like in-person socialization with my team, probably in the morning, get a cup of coffee, usually spend, maybe like 70% of my day by myself where I'm programming or just thinking to myself and maybe about like 20 to 30% in meetings or design discussions, which involve the broader team.

Yeah, yeah. Actually, when you talk about it, I kind of miss it because my meeting, I have about probably 70% meetings and 20% focus time.

Bowan, how about yourself? Um, I don't have that many meetings.

How our team works is that we have our own project per person and we, the driver drives from the design and coding and the release part.

So yeah, so my day looks like I wake up and go join the stand-up and just start writing code or doing the design and have discussion with the teams whenever I have something unclear.

And yeah, that's my day like, and we do code reviews and yeah, just nothing too special.

Yeah, we write code and release it. Yeah, yeah. There's something though that's nice about that, that I kind of miss when you two are talking about it is the focus time.

So for me, it's like thinking about what's the best thing to do for, what's the best thing for the team to do in the next quarter or the next year that can really like improve our resilience or make sure we're growing and we're keeping capacity and we're thinking about things that way and we're being efficient.

So it's really about taking these large themes and kind of applying them to projects.

Um, and then also listening to the team and, you know, hearing what they're complaining about and saying, oh, people are complaining about this thing a lot.

So we need to make space and, you know, maybe get a couple people on this particular thing so that we can improve it.

You know, I definitely think about the team's quality of life a lot, just not only like their work life, but I know with the pandemic people are doing like longer hours because they don't have, no, you know, we don't really have those same social, um, occasions and the clock doesn't really stop, you know, at the end of the day people keep working.

So I definitely want to try and make people's lives as easy as possible.

So, you know, we were just talking in the last meeting I was in about like doing, uh, something fun.

Um, we do something fun maybe about once a month or so, uh, to play video games against another team at Cloudflare.

Uh, you know, these little things that are pretty casual, I'm not a huge gamer, but I do like the trivia or the Jackbox games.

So it's a little bit nice to, um, blow off steam and still have that same social interaction that you might have at work, but, you know, it's a compromise because we're not, we're not able to go for a walk for a coffee or anything like that.

Um, yeah, Irene and Bonnie, are you, uh, both working or going to school remotely right now or are you in person?

Yeah, lectures are remote right now, so the screen fatigue is real, but it's going good.

Yeah. Okay. Well, if you ever want to join us for some of these video games or Jackbox things, you're welcome to.

Um, yeah.

Uh, so I guess to end on a, on a high note, is there been any, I ask this to folks at work too, um, and my team, like, um, do you have, have you picked up a pandemic hobby?

Like some people have like made their own keyboards or learned how to do sourdough bread.

What's that? I have a lot of green babies. Oh yeah. Yeah. I have arugula, parsley, like about 10 kinds.

How about you Arushi?

Uh, I did the whole bread thing for a bit. I grew my own yeast.

Yeah. And then ate home. Yeah.

I, my boyfriend did the, the sourdough bread. It was delicious, but it's also okay that he doesn't do it anymore.

Cause I think it gained some pounds.

Irene, how about just yourself? Have you picked up any pandemic hobbies? Maybe not like picked up, but I went back to like my old hobbies and like, uh, started doing digital art again.

So that's been really nice. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and Bonnie?

Mostly cooking here for me too. And I realized that all the coffee shop drinks you pay like three to $5 for it can be replicated at home.

So I'm pretty good at the latches and matchas at this point.

Oh, matcha. That sounds good. I, I have, uh, I've been thinking lately about maybe getting a ukulele.

I've not, I'm not very musical, but I just thought, Oh, it's this tiny, cute thing that plays some good songs.

Maybe this is the time to learn how to play. But, uh, but so far it's mostly, uh, I have been doing, um, a lot of, uh, like taking a large plant and then replicating it, um, like doing clones of, of plants.

Um, so I have like a whole big dining room table full of plants.

It's no longer usable for dining anymore, but it's, it's been fun.

You know, it's kind of looking at the silver lining. Um, and then also re I've been reading a ton because, you know, you get sick of watching shows like Tiger King after a while.

Um, but there's tons of tech books and management books out there.

All right. We've got 10 minutes left. So I just want to wrap up and say, thank you everyone for, uh, and my great panel here of speakers and to everyone listening out there at Grace Hopper.

We've, uh, really enjoyed this and it's been great for me to get to know everyone better too.

Um, but take care and have a good rest of your day.

Thank you. Thank you.

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Cloudflare U
Cloudflare U is a new series on CloudflareTV for students interested in learning about roles and opportunities within the company. The series will cover all facets of Cloudflare from our technology to our culture.
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