Women of Qualified: Nine

Women of Qualified is a monthly blog series celebrating the female employees who make an impact to our business and team every day.

Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
January 23, 2023
min read
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Meet Nine! Nine is one of our software engineers and joined our team after completing her undergrad at Brown University with a double major in computer science and economics. We talked to Nine about what it's like to move from a big team at a massive company like Microsoft to a leaner startup, how Qualified's leadership team sets the bar for work-life balance, and what it's like to be a woman in engineering.

Check out our conversation with Nine ⬇️

Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Qualified

Nine: I’m Nine–it’s my nickname! I’m from Thailand and I came to the States for undergrad. I went to undergrad at Brown University and majored in computer science and economics. Before Qualified, I worked at Microsoft for a year and quit to join Qualified. One of my best friends is friends with Aaron and he was looking for female engineers to round out the team. He asked my friend if he knew anyone open to working for smaller startups and looking for jobs.

My friend referred me, we talked, and I joined through Aaron!

Moving from a massive company like Microsoft to a startup is a big shift, what motivated you to make the change?

Nine: I’ve never worked at a startup before. Before Qualified, I worked at a midsize company in Thailand called Agoda, then it was Microsoft which is a big, big company. I wasn’t sure how a startup would be, I’ve heard they have a bad work-life balance and work at night all the time. But, the reason I joined Qualified from a big company was that I feel like it's my first year working out of college and I want to work somewhere I can work faster than a big company. Microsoft was slow with a lot of procedures, I wanted to work somewhere I could work with real customers and on a product that’s more front-facing, but also full stack.

With a big company, I didn’t really get to do that as much and my contribution felt very, very small compared to the product itself. At a startup, I get to work on something fully and own a product myself. That’s what I was looking for. I was nervous about whether a startup would kill my work-life balance because that’s also important to me. Thankfully, I talked a lot with Aaron about startups and how he decided to work for Qualified and thinks about the culture. From talking to everyone, it seemed like a very nice workplace and I applied.

Thankfully, I got an offer!

What do you think contributes to our culture of work-life balance?

Nine: Our founder team. They’ve done a lot of startups before this so they know what they’re doing. They don’t kill the work-life balance, and when I joined they were already two or three years in so they have things set up more. We’re still growing fast, but not working late nights anymore. We have set working hours and I don’t think anyone expects us to answer emails after 5PM.

For engineers, sometimes we’ll work late at night because our minds are flowing and we just want to finish things, so there is a day or two I work late because I want to. When I pinged our CTO Gopal to ask questions, he was nice and answered, but after he told me to stop working and rest because it was after working hours. It comes from the top down. When there are vacation days, everyone knows not to expect anyone to answer. Of course, people will look at Slack, but we’re all on board not to look at it and I really like that we play hard and work hard at the same time. 

As a woman in engineering, what challenges have you faced and what advice would you give to other women getting into software development?

Nine: I feel like because engineering is a very male-dominated field, at first, not at Qualified, but in my first internship my team was six or seven people and I was the only female engineer there. My first thought was “Will they think I'm as qualified as them because I’m a female?” They might claim it’s easier to work with people of the same sex, I was wearing things to look more unisex and not acting as feminine, but more masculine. Try to be yourself–we should be more confident and voice our opinions more.

Another thing I want to note–Tooba is a very good example of how being a female engineer can be. Having her as our VP of Product looking over the engineering team is nice because as female engineers we don’t feel as intimidated because Tooba is the one who really pushes through her opinion right away instead of hiding it. Seeing her do that makes me more confident doing that as well. 

Hear more about Tooba's journey at Qualified and how she carved her own path in product management here.

Lastly, hit us with a humble brag!

Nine: There's nothing that’s just my humble brag because a lot of my projects are working with my team and thankfully my coworkers help me learn a lot and help me in every project. There was one, it was a platform team project, a Heroku auto-scaler. That project was an alone project where I got to work closely with our CTO, Gopal. Right after I joined they trusted me enough to give me a solo project, I got help from other people, but I think it’s interesting they really trust me and gave me that right away. I successfully finished it, it works, and people like it! 

Nine, we're so glad to have you on the team and can't wait to see what you do as you grow your career here at Qualified.

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