Leveling Up: From Intern to Full-Time Engineer

By Mackenzie T.
Honey Software Engineer. Former Honey Intern.

It’s been a year a half since Susan Fowler wrote about her time as an engineer at Uber, and inspired me to tell my story of how skeptics and cultural perceptions nearly kept me out of a field I loved. I wrote the piece when I was an intern at a software company called Honey, which helps people save time and money while shopping online. It was the most honest thing I had written about my experiences as a woman pursuing a degree in computer science.

A lot has changed since then. Most notably I GRADUATED and started the process of “adulting” which fortunately included getting a job.

As Computer Science graduates with good grades, my female classmates and I were often aggressively pursued by companies, not because we had the interest and aptitude, but because we helped with their gender ratios.

I had no desire to be a token hire and part of my search included looking for companies that saw me as a talented and eager employee who wanted to learn and contribute.

When interviewing for potential opportunities, the most important thing I wanted to know was not their unlimited PTO, or pet-sitting policies, but the company culture. Specifically, would these companies foster an environment where I was able to grow and thrive? From my beginning in CS I knew that the odds were stacked against me. It was my stubborn pride that kept me going in school, but the real world was vastly different. I had read the horror stories and knew the stats. There is a strikingly small number of women even studying engineering in the first place: only 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees in the U.S. are earned by women. Beyond that, researchers have found that only 13% of the engineering workforce is female.

It was only after my internship at Honey, that I experienced an environment that was not only supportive, but challenging and exciting. I was able to learn and push myself as a young engineer and intern. It wasn’t until that experience that I finally felt like I belonged in this field in the first place.

None of the companies I interviewed with gave the answers I quite wanted. None of them gave bad answers, none of them described terrible cultures or company values. I couldn’t put my finger on why each interview left me wanting. Then I realized, I was simply disappointed because these companies weren’t describing what I had experienced at Honey. They weren’t describing the specific culture I had found so empowering. It wasn’t their fault, and I’m sure they’re all great places to work. I realized that I already knew exactly what I was looking for in a job and Honey had it.

Thankfully, my supervisors at Honey felt the same way and I eagerly accepted the offer to join full-time after I graduated.

Having been back on the team a few short months, my experience and expectations while unbelievably high, have been met. My female classmates who joined firms inside and outside of tech have had a range of experiences. A few found the startup unicorns where they are loving the culture and their co-workers. But the majority of my former classmates landed in the type of companies and cultures, we were all afraid of.

The attrition of women at technical companies is double that of men. Women are leaving jobs once they realize they’re in environments that do the opposite of helping them to level up. Environments where there's a lack of respect, little to no recognition for their work, or no mobility to move up in the company. There’s a multitude of reasons that these type of work environments are undesirable for women.

In a time when women in this country are already feeling unheard and undervalued, it’s important that a company doesn’t reinforce that negativity.

I feel so fortunate that everyday I come to work for a company that values people, both it’s employees and it’s users. Honey works to provides a safe and genuinely fun work environment, one that makes the people in it better.

One of our core values is the idea of leveling up, and Honey stays true on its promise to do so. From speaker series to fitness classes, book clubs, and employee-led courses there are ample opportunities to better yourself as an employee and as an individual. On top of providing these personal development opportunities, Honey’s culture is what helps them fight the high female attrition rates in tech. Not only are we well above industry average at 40% women, but the women who are here are sticking around. The company has created a respectful and empowering environment for everyone.

Honey has also created a space where it isn’t taboo to ask questions and to make your opinion heard. When Bloomberg released this article explaining how the gender gap is often felt in stock options, a female employee asked the execs in an all-hands meeting if this gap was present at Honey.

This practice of radical transparency within the company is something I value and am motivated by. Employees can ask higher-ups why something is or isn’t being done, and can expect to get an honest answer back.This transparency around what’s going on in the company allows everyone to be on the same page. We’re all on the same team, and knowing why we’re doing what we’re doing for the goals we’re trying to accomplish helps us accomplish them.

After the tumultuous week surrounding the Kavanaugh hearings ended with a heartbreaking outcome for many women and men, it meant a lot to me (and many other employees) when Honey’s CEO sent out a company-wide message reiterating that Honey will do whatever is necessary to ensure all of their employees feel safe. I’m proud to work at a company that cares enough to do this.

Everyone deserves to feel safe, respected and valued in their workplace. This seems so simple and so obvious, but is often absent from company cultures.

Finding this to be true at Honey is what made my decision clear about coming back, and it’s the reason I plan to stick around for awhile. I get to come to work everyday to a job I love. I work with great people in a space I feel safe. My excitement to learn and do well and simply be a part of the team are genuine. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and will continue to do. I made it through college, I showed all the people who doubted me that they were wrong, and thanks to Honey I get to enjoy myself while doing it.

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