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Employee Spotlight: Alison Thurston, Junior Engineer at Sendwave

Alison Thurston, Junior Engineer at Sendwave

ARTICLE SUMMARY

From recruiter to software engineer, Alison Thurston is a Philadelphia-based junior engineer who joined Sendwave in May.

WHAT DO YOU DO? WHEN DID YOU START? WHERE ARE YOU BASED?

I started at Sendwave as a Senior Recruiter and transitioned into the ISE team as a Junior Engineer in May. ISE’s objective is to make verifying our users’ identities and fund sources as easy as possible. We also make sure that the Sendwave support team has everything they need to support users.

My journey into software development has been non-traditional. I graduated with a liberal arts degree and initially worked in non-profits and international development in Uganda, Tanzania and Washington DC.

Eventually, I shifted into project management and operations roles in West Africa, and that’s where I met the Wave and Sendwave teams. Before joining Sendwave, I was working on talent retention and culture at Wave Mobile Money in Senegal.

At Wave, I met several self-taught engineers and started to realize it was possible to move into the role even if you hadn’t majored in computer science during undergrad. I had always been interested in data analysis and was conversant with using SQL, but taking the full leap into a technical role still felt daunting. Like many people, the pandemic gave me a reason to reflect on what I wanted in my career and the time to study something new.

Alison Thurston, Junior Engineer at Sendwave

With lots of newfound free time, I enrolled in a boot camp that met after work and on the weekends. I was committed to developing these skills and my team provided me with a flexible schedule for technical projects and mentorship so I could improve my skills. Once my mentor felt I was ready and I was eligible to transfer within Sendwave, I interviewed with the engineering team and was successful.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR A CAREER TRANSITION?

My advice for people who want to transition into any different career path is that you have to be open to feedback. When making a big change you can’t be attached to seniority or ego.

In particular, for anyone with experience in people management, human resources, or operations who is looking to make a change, my advice is to remember your strengths. For example, recruiters get to know many different teams, adjust to various management styles, and communicate effectively across all levels of staff— use those things to your advantage! Be curious and master the tech stack of what’s right in front of you in your current job— for us, that looked like Metaview, Greenhouse, Google Calendar, and Rippling.

Try out advanced features of those like integrations or writing automation on your own, or act as the escalation point for tech issues within your internal team. You don’t necessarily have to master the technology you have never seen before as your first step, and you can build a more unique portfolio when you build something that is of particular use to you.”

Alison Thurston, Junior Engineer at Sendwave

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT SENDWAVE?

Outside of work I love music! I’m a member of two choirs here in Philly. I also enjoy roller skating. I used to roller skate by the beach when I used to live in Florida and currently I settle for bumpy skates on Philadelphia’s trails. 🙂

If you’d like to join Alison on a fully remote team, Engineering and Growth Marketing are hiring!

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE JOBS CURRENTLY OPEN AT SENDWAVE

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