Engineering spotlight: Meet Whitney
Engineers are problem solvers, and their unique ways of thinking have transformed the world. At Lacework, our engineering team is the brains behind our Polygraph® Data Platform and the innovative solutions we provide our customers to help keep their businesses safe. To celebrate Engineers Week, we wanted to highlight some of the team, kicking off with Whitney Smith, a software engineer who was drawn to the role because of the parallels she found between programming languages and her other passion: music.
Lacework: Did you always want to be an engineer? What would you be doing if you weren’t an engineer?
Whitney: I hadn’t even considered engineering until later into my professional career. I originally wanted to be on Broadway and went to college on a music scholarship before switching majors to French and international studies. So you could say I had a lot of different interests! If I wasn’t an engineer I think I would want to pursue more music in some capacity.
Lacework: What first sparked your interest in engineering and how did you get started in the field?
Whitney: I made the switch into engineering via a software engineering bootcamp and self-study. I was working on a personal project and wanted to learn more about coding to bring my idea to life and so enrolled in some classes and became interested immediately. What drew me to it were the patterns and systems involved and the different ways of thinking you have to employ. In music and languages, there is a similar way to break things down to their simplest form to understand them and build them back up into a song or a sentence, and engineering followed a similar pattern for me. What also interested me was just the sheer amount of things there are to learn and how versatile engineering is. Sometimes it’s daunting, but a lot of the time it’s exhilarating that there is so much out there to understand.
Lacework: What’s the most interesting thing you have ever built?
Whitney: Honestly, what I’m working on now! I get to work on so many different areas of our codebase—I’m usually coding in a few different languages any given day and alternating between front-end and back-end. It’s challenging but it’s super fun and I’m never bored!
Lacework: What is the most important advice that you have received as an engineer, and how has it impacted your career?
Whitney: To take every challenge as an opportunity to learn something, and learn as much as possible about that thing or subject. I think this can be applied to engineering, but also any aspect of life and it is something I remind myself of every day. Every piece of feedback, every comment someone makes on your code review is a chance for you to become better at what you do and learn from others.
Lacework: What is one interesting fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
Whitney: I think a lot of people know I sing, but most don’t know that I also play multiple instruments. I’m most known for playing the piano when I sing (because it’s the easiest instrument to use while also singing), but I also play violin, and can play guitar, ukulele, harp and flute. I had to get one woodwind in there!
Lacework: What’s something you love to do when you’re not working?
Whitney: When I’m not working, I’m probably either reading, traveling and hiking. It’s on my bucket list to hike in all the national parks of the United States, and I’m hoping to cross a few more off this year. Oh and I just started karate which has been awesome!
Lacework: What’s something you wish people knew about being an engineer?
Whitney: The importance of time management. Estimating how much time it takes to complete a task is essential, as well as just managing your time in general. There are a lot of aspects to getting an engineering task done, depending on what you work on, and so you have to create a plan with that in mind, and then bake in more time for when things (inevitably) go differently than you expected.
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