👩💻 *Women in Tech EMEA* Building a Successful Career in Tech
Curious about careers in tech or how to break into the tech industry? Our panel of inspiring women will discuss their own experiences navigating Sales and Business Intelligence, tackling challenges, and achieving their dreams.
If you want to apply for a role at Cloudflare but are unsure of what the best fit would be for your skillset, please apply using this link and the Recruiting Team will follow up - https://boards.greenhouse.io/careersday/jobs/3085504?gh_jid=3085504
non-tech people in tech. I also have a friend who was from biology and then she left biology and then she was a DJ for a year and then she took a course, a front -end development course and now she's a front-end engineer.
There you go, that was our introduction, we actually went live already but I didn't want to interrupt Sofia.
It's amazing but folks my usual entry sentence on Cloudflare TV is we are back live so welcome back everyone and thanks for tuning in.
That was a good intro Sofia because we're actually going to talk about building a successful career in tech and just as we dialed in and we've been waiting to go live we started talking about how we got into or how you folks got into engineering roles and how a friend of mine actually started working with me as a recruiter and is now an engineer in Australia.
So we ended up talking about Sofia's friend as well but let's continue the conversation but before we could kick off everyone who tuned in or will be tuning in please feel free to drop us a message if you have any questions.
There is a link at the bottom of I think it's in the bottom right corner on your end to drop a message or question via email.
Also feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn and message us now or after the session we're happily going to answer any remaining questions.
As this is a Cloudflare TV session around building a successful career in tech I also do encourage you to check out our career website.
We do higher, higher, higher at the moment globally for any type of roles whether it's in tech and sales or any other role you're looking for please do check out our website and if you don't find a job on the website feel free to message us via LinkedIn and just send through your CV we're happily going to look through it.
I'm Anna, I'm part of the recruitment team actually. I've been based in London for the majority of my Cloudflare career.
Just recently moved to Germany and I'm speaking today with Sofia and Veronica who both are based in Portugal where we have our tech hub and a massive team based there as well.
So Sofia and Veronica will share a little bit more about their experience pre-Cloudflare and how they joined Cloudflare and their roles and sort of their journeys and paths to to the roles they they're working in now and yeah we'll we'll then wrap up in about 30 minutes but before we kick off Sofia, Veronica why don't you briefly introduce yourself.
Veronica maybe let's kick off with you. All right so I'm Veronica and I work in CSAP which which is our acronym for customer support and I work as customer support engineer.
Before my role at Cloudflare, before joining, I actually mostly studied.
I just finished my master degree in signology which is linguistics, Chinese linguistics pretty much and I never planned to have a career in tech actually.
This was a bit of a I would say serendipity and stumbling upon the right resources in the right time and yeah my yeah I think I'll let Sofia introduce herself too.
So and then okay yeah so I'm Sofia. I'm I'm a back-end engineer. I've been at Cloudflare for about one year.
My back-end is totally different. It's also sort of a series of serendipities.
I think that's a term Veronica in the sense that I'm I graduate is in clinical psychology and and my thesis was about the Internet use and how chats is is is a bit different when when you don't know the person's.
I don't want to get into details but because of that I had a friend who has who did training courses for for for people with mental health issues and and the regular Microsoft Office trainers were having a bit of difficulty so they ended up inviting me since I knew a bit only a bit at the time about Microsoft Office like front page and word and stuff like that so I so I accepted and so I I ended up giving classes and I was working at the same time as a clinical psychologist and so I and I so I learned a lot about front page development and macromedia as well access and stuff like that and then a few years later a friend of mine and she she was web designer and she was doing a clinical a website for clinical psychology books and the web developer became ill so he he could no longer do it with her so she she asked do you know stuff right now not really not really but but maybe I can learn so yeah okay I said okay I'll give it a try I'll learn online and so I learned some php and we sort of did it okay yeah okay and then in the end it was done it works and that's how it all started basically that's really how it all started.
That's amazing when we first briefly had like a small sort of debrief before the session I was so curious and surprised to learn about your backgrounds like even your story Sophia from clinical psychology correct me if I'm wrong clinical psychology to now systems engineering but do you think like unconsciously that was the path you wanted to go or was it like due to random circumstances you ended up in the role you are in now?
My case I think it was sort of due to random circumstances because I wasn't really attracted to computers I hadn't really used them a lot to be honest I wasn't into games which is how many people get into computers I wasn't into computer games so so it's sort of it passed me by but then when I started learning I thought oh this is cool I actually like this so so it was from there from okay I actually like doing this and so I started learning more and then one day the opportunity sort of presented itself and I just took advantage of it so that was a bit how I think it was just a circumstance that I hadn't used computers a lot because if I had I would have found out sooner that I would have probably liked it so yeah.
And just out of curiosity like obviously we have a lot of great engineers who have an engineering background where it's very different to your background but do you think having a completely different degree or completely different past experience is helping you to look at things differently or is helping you at all like any advantages or maybe also disadvantages right now?
I think it's there's both good and bad of course because there are some more fundamental things that that I sometimes have to learn more because I simply missed those five years of college that I was doing psychology so that's I think more or less obvious but then it's good on the other side and I don't have a classical engineering mindset or point of view sometimes so I think that's well I hope that's a bonus that's an added point of view in the teams and yeah I think those different profiles I think they sort of complement each other at least in the teams I've been at I felt that.
Nice, thanks Sofia and Veronica to look back into you because I know for you it was more of a conscious decision to say okay you have the experience and please share a little bit more on what you actually studied and what you've been doing pre -Cloudflare and then to say okay let me actually go ahead and apply for a position and finally we just had the topic earlier is I asked you if we reached out to you or if you applied directly just given your background and you said that everyone is asking you this question right?
Yeah so before joining Cloudflare I joined Cloudflare a little bit over a year ago and before joining I was doing some freelance work as a translator so I was translating mostly between English, Chinese and Polish and yeah I was doing my master degree in Chinese linguistics and I specialized in language processing which is really really cool and it was really interesting for me at the moment but when I got to writing my thesis and we were in the middle of the lockdown I was like hmm let's do something else because I cannot look at my papers and I don't know like because all of our life was happening online at that time I was like Internet security is very interesting and let me read more about that and then because I started reading information about Internet security I realized that first of all I need to go get down go back to the basics and learn how Internet works so I was just researching this but it wasn't really like a lot of time between like when I started like oh this is really interesting to let me apply to Cloudflare there wasn't like much time between these two points I wasn't consciously trying to have a career in tech I was just like exploring this because this was very interesting for me and I was actually looking for for a job that would challenge me and allow me to like expand my skill set that I already had as a translator and I was looking for multilingual job offers actually here in Lisbon where I am currently and Cloudflare came up as the first search result and I remember reading the job offer description for customer support engineer and while it seemed that they were looking like Cloudflare was looking for people with experience in tech I also noticed that the way it was phrased it was like very inclusive and in a way like we will if you're willing to show up as your best you know and if you if you match our you know our profile the people that we're looking at the people that will excel at this sort of job you have a chance like so I sent my CV in with the little courses that I took with all my background you know in translation and I was like well it doesn't it doesn't hurt to try you know it's always like it's better to send the CV out there the the worst case scenario I don't hear back at all but funnily enough Cloudflare was the first company that responded to my to my CV and we went from there and that was basically how I got here.
And there you go you're you're here already for over a year now right? Yes yes well I I want to say something that I noticed like Sophia said the same thing and it just like mostly I remember saying this to my hiring panel and I think this is like a one very important quality in all the people that you know get their job in tech or people that we look for when you know hiring is Sophia said oh I said to my to my friend you know I don't know PHP I don't know if I can do it but I can learn and I remember saying this exact phrase to the hiring panel when I was being hired for my job as a support engineer and I said you know I only know this much and my level at the time was nowhere near to where I am at this moment but I'm willing to learn and I know I can learn because this was a skill that I had already previously and this was a skill that translated from my you know master degree from being able to you know learn a foreign language and translate one of the important skills of translators to be able to learn a field in a really short time because you have to translate in a way that is accurate and you're passing the knowledge from one person to a person especially this is important in the case of like you know business talks or if you're doing live translation and you have to talk about something you have no idea about so you have to learn the field in like a way to be able to talk about it and pass it from one language to the other like so like yeah I think that is very important definitely I agree and also took a note earlier from from earlier conversations I had with the two of you where Sofia you mentioned that you believe the most important skill is not only to learn but how to learn and that is very important yeah exactly I think that's that's the that's the most important thing I think nowadays in in almost any role but especially in such a rapidly evolving area like tech where even if you if you are more or less knowledgeable in the latest fads let's say in front-end development or any other area it really doesn't matter things are constantly evolving and that's really cool if you if you enjoy learning and investigating and and finding out how things work and if you know how to learn and and it is a skill how to learn it's it this is sort of obvious but it can really take you far because as as as Veronica was saying she said okay I don't know about that in the interview I really don't know it yet but I can learn and and most things are true you can take a shorter time a longer time it really doesn't matter you can you can learn if you want to and and most people I think it's it's truly a skill and it's mostly fun as well mostly I'm just being honest yes and both of you obviously are sharing from an experience of an interviewee and Veronica I know that you recently and I think Sophia you you are also interviewing individuals as well but you Veronica recently started also interviewing folks that are joining the customer support team as technical support engineers so you also see from a different angle and perspective right now what maybe you can share with us what really matters to to interviewers and what really matters and sort of makes a difference to pass and actually go through the very thorough process we have for each role here at Cloudflare to be successful.
I was really taken aback by the interview process because there it's very very demanding like the interview panel that checks every single like like group of skills that you need to have to excel at this job I just never never saw something like this before never never had to you know go through such a demanding process and at when I was doing my survey I remember being very overwhelmed and thinking like I don't know how I got this far in this process uh I don't know if like I don't know if I'm I'm saying the right thing or the wrong thing I don't know how it's going and I remember just thinking like you know I'll put my best um best self I will show up as my best self to these interviews and like and just do my best and that's it and if it doesn't go well there's nothing you know nothing wrong nothing could be done and right now from like the perspective of you know giving the interviews like being being the interviewer um I think I am kind of I realized how much like the tech knowledge that you have doesn't like the tech background that you have or don't have doesn't matter that much in the in the big sort of scheme because we're looking for specific skills especially in support which is which is a very very I think specific part of like the engineering jobs we have because we deal with a very very different cases and we we rarely edit code so the tech experience has to be very different and we we look for more like skills that are you know customer based but also we look for logical mind which is very very important the ability to learn fast which we already said like learn relearn unlearn and you know keeping up with the like the pace that things are coming in that and this is what Sofia mentioned like and you also touched upon to like technical people and like being someone from technical background and being someone from non -technical background how much of a disadvantage do you have as a person from the technical background well you have to learn the basics and you have to have the understanding of the basics but you also I think it's important to remember that you already come with skills like you never come as a blank page and you have important skills which can be they're translatable to your current job like to your to whatever you want to be you want to be a but like work as an engineer do you have a logical mind can you learn do you enjoy actually testing breaking things trying learning about them how they work and going into detail like these are the skills that we're looking for so there's it's very it's very I realized that you know the tech background as itself can be built up like you can build on it like you can you can do courses there is like a myriad of resources right now out there accessible to a lot of people the tech industry is very welcoming this is this is something this is something really wonderful I really enjoyed that at Cloudflare because there's a lot of people which you can you know reach out to and everybody wants to help you so yeah that I think that is the biggest the biggest thing that I learned from interviewing process is that there are skills that can be learned and you know the tech skills are one of them but there is a certain group of skills which we're looking for in people that are that might be more difficult to train and this might be just like a something more personal depending on the individual I was also thinking that the stereotype of a tech job is like someone coding in their room or something and that's not the reality of day-to-day it's a teamwork it's truly teamwork even as systems engineer which is more that image but it's it's truly teamwork I mean you have to work with with with front with other developers of course to to get the feature shipped because normally a single feature has stuff from from back end from front end from products so there's a lot of of of people that that have to talk and and see oh this is good no this isn't as good do it do it another way and so forth and so forth so so the reality of it is that it's a team job so people skills uh truly important and and yeah tech skills can be learned of course in the interviewing process for for for systems engineers we do look for for um for um for candidates with with technical skills and it's and it's truly important but uh at least I don't try to focus too much on the details oh you can't really remember this specific detail it as as long as he or she can reason about it and maybe it's fine I'm looking for for for the ability to reason about things as well as some clear tech skills but but the details sometimes they aren't as important and and yeah tech unlike its stereotype it is a people's job as well definitely thanks for sharing this and it's a good advice for folks that are actually looking to make a um shift to maybe a tech role um what you pay attention as an interviewer Veronica is there any anything you would recommend individuals that are looking to make a move maybe from a different background just as your experience coming from language processing and interpretation linguistics into a technical support engineering job so I think there is like there are two ways you can think about like there are two types of people think like people more like me who ended up as you know it's a happy mistake happy accident like I just wanted to learn something new and this was very interesting and I was like yeah I'll give it a shot but there are people I think will go there with more intention who literally will like go through the whole like I'll take this course and that course and this to you know build up my resume and build up my skills and I think um my advice would be to you know except for doing the courses which is always great because this is like always like a bigger advantage and that gives you some understanding is also to like measure the way you aim I think a lot of people can be very ambitious when they're trying to look for a job which is really good like ambition is very good but I think also it's good to have like just you know try working in tech and see if you like it is you if you like the reality of working tech because what you imagine it can be maybe it's very different from what you think it is so I think like I don't know just like try to look for a job you think you could apply for and see if you like it if you want to do that reach out to the people um that do the job because tech people like there is a lot of channels there is a big community out there um and people are really welcoming and they like to talk what they're doing their jobs every like when I meet new people at Cloudflare I like to I like to ask them like what do you do at your job what is your you know day-to-day life do you know what systems you deal with what are the tools that you're using I think that is good to like um to to get that you know the external knowledge and also trying it by yourself and the end is like testing setting up you know trying into things on your own like just try to like you know for Cloudflare try to set up your own server try to try to play around these things yeah definitely and we we also have like I think in terms of advice to to candidates or advice to individuals that are looking to make a move or to to apply for a job here at Cloudflare as an example I think there is always so much valuable valuable information uh available online like even before uh applying for a job whether it's for systems engineering or also for for the Cloudflare customer support team I remember a candidate telling me oh I went on your support page actually and look through different questions customers ask and advises you give just to gather more knowledge and be better prepared for the interviews I have and I think that was a very good example so at some point when candidates would ask me like is there any advice you would give me I was like use the information that it's uh is available online because this is so valuable and if you can showcase that you've prepared yourself well and and you are open to learn and willing to learn this is already like a big plus for you to move actually to the next stage of the process um so that's that's uh one small advice from a perspective as well and Veronica correct me if I'm wrong no no I was going to ask you if that that person was me because I remember when I was preparing maybe it was actually I'm not I literally memorized a lot of the a lot of the knowledge articles a lot of the informations we had out there and I remember going to the tech interview and uh having been asked the question like what happens when you type in you know example to come into the browser what is the process that happens in the back end and I remember like answering like step by step from what I learned in the support art like in the articles that Cloudflare published online and the person that was interviewing me it's like this is a really detailed answer how do you know that not having you know tech background and I was like ah but you know that I don't have background doesn't mean I don't have like a really good memory or you know and can learn exactly this that's it I was like I was like was this me that said that maybe maybe I had a couple of candidates but uh potentially it was you uh but yeah I totally agree to use advantage of the information available well we I can't believe we are already uh are almost done with the session and only have five minutes left but one topic I wanted to uh quickly touch on it's like we talked about your past we talked about where you're coming from that you're not coming from a typical engineering background and Veronica earlier said well what's typical there is no right or wrong path uh which I can just uh confirm at this stage as well given all the stories we just shared about our friends as well who are coming from like a recruiter background from biology and with you two folks as well um you went through the recruitment process here at Cloudflare you joined Cloudflare and are part of an amazing team uh globally but especially also very interesting um opportunity in Lisbon where we're building our tech up and actually grew to an massive team in the meantime what's next for you so let's briefly talk about career progression and uh what is it that you're looking forward to in your uh in your role so maybe let's kick off with Sophia what's next for me well uh for now I actually really like where I am so so so so uh I just want to make the product uh I'm working on better uh and it's it's radar it's it's it's more or less a site that Cloudflare has that shows that tries to give some stats on on the Internet in general and like shows Internet usage per country and stuff like that as I think the site can can grow a lot and and I hope to be part of that so um I'm quite happy where I am right now uh so I just I just hope that then that I'll keep making it better and more and the tool better uh equipped for journalists and and and curious people alike and then probably other internal projects at Cloudflare that's a that's a good answer and as we continue to grow that's one thing I keep on telling folks probably for the last one year and it will probably never stop because we're just growing like crazy and like Matthew always says higher higher higher so we have a lot of opportunities I always tell folks like join us now because we're continuing to grow and naturally there will be so many projects and opportunities coming your way once you join because naturally we will be having like other projects we need to focus on or um naturally need to to build up maybe if you'd like to take on a lead role in the future as the teams grow they will naturally develop the um openings for leadership positions as well but Veronica very briefly to you uh and then we'll be wrapping up what's next for you yeah so I think like working in support gives you the amazing opportunity to like try a bit of everything because you'll be supporting all the products that we have and we have to keep in touch with different teams and and see how they work and and meet other people so I think at this point maybe specialize a bit more and then I'm still I'm still actually just like thinking about it like what I want to do next because I really enjoy what I'm doing currently so I'm kind of turned like do I want to stay like I kind of want to stay in support and maybe you know take a team team leader role like be more of like you know management sort of things because this is very interesting it's a very different skill set but also you know the tech part of it it's it's kind of still like pulling me in and specializing a bit more in like one area kind of might be might be the way for me to go yeah definitely and maybe with your interest and focus you'll you sort of develop your own role like I have the best example from someone on my team like he started focusing on one subject and it was really needed on the team and he's now actually we actually opened up the role just for him to do that and I think that's that's amazing and also to loop back into to your point Veronica earlier that you you know also communicate with other teams internally that's something interesting as well because I heard from so many people that you know they started shadowing started getting to know teams and we're such an open-minded team even though we we're no longer in the office so it's not as easy as it used to be just to chat over a copy and say hey what are you actually up to what projects are you working on but still there's this you know willingness to to share and maybe to show folks what you're working on and maybe to encourage them to to do the same so we're just about to end the session it was a real pleasure to speak to you too I keep on saying like next time we'll do an hour session because it's like I continue to talk about this forever and ever especially when it's such an interesting topic so thank you so much for joining everyone who tuned in please check out our career website and drop us a message if you have any questions