Mobile Developer Claire Young has spent the past six months working for Time Inc. from the company’s Seattle office. She’s been in the tech field since high school, when her interest in computers led her to declare an undergraduate major in computer science, and she’s never looked back.
PowerToFly spoke with this mom of two about her flexible work schedule and her favorite parts of her Time Inc. team’s culture. Claire’s advice to women interested in tech: “Keep your head up, and keep on learning.”
Please introduce yourself to the PowerToFly community.
My name is Claire, I work at Time Inc. in the Seattle office. I am the main iOS developer in a hybrid app development team here at Time Inc. I am originally from Seattle; my family all lives in the Seattle area. I was away for about nine years in the midwest, and then took a couple years off to have kids, and now Time Inc. is my first full-time job back in Seattle.
How did you get started in tech?
I originally got started in tech such a long time ago. When I was in high school I liked using computers, and I thought going into tech had a lot of potential. I thought it would be fun to write the types of programs, like chat and AOL, that I used at the time.
So I went into undergrad and decided to major in computer science without much more research — which is what I think a lot of people do in any field when they’re that young. But I never looked back, it’s a great field to be in. We could definitely use more women though.
Have you been working on any projects lately at Time Inc. that you’re particularly excited about?
One of the most fun parts of my job is that I work on high profile app products that I release on a very frequent basis. Within my first month and a half at Time Inc., we released an app for Sports Illustrated — which is great in terms of a software development timeline. I’m really proud of the product that we came out with. We released that Sports Illustrated app on iOS and Android, and then a few weeks ago we just also released the Travel + Leisure Travel Guide app. So within my first six months of working at Time Inc., I’ve worked on two very high profile apps. And often times, I personally have been the one to deploy to the app store or submit for review. I’ve been coding as well, but I definitely feel great ownership of the product because often times I was the one to push the button to say, “Push this to the app store. Publish this.”
Tell us a bit about the work culture at Time Inc. What’s your favorite thing about working there?
I work with a great team of really smart people from very diverse backgrounds, and we have great team culture. It’s really fun to go into work, into the office, just because of all the cool people there. And it’s great to collaborate. I think remote work is great sometimes, but it’s also great to just collaborate with people as well.
Of course there are also a lot of material perks — office happy hours, a fridge well stocked with snacks — but you get the same perks with a lot of other tech companies. I think what really stands out at Time Inc. is the team culture.
Does your position give you a lot of flexibility with your schedule?
I generally work about one day per week from home, which helps a lot. As a mother, there are situations that come up — a kid is sick, or maybe there’s no day care — life comes up, and I just need to work from home. I really enjoy working, but I think it can be difficult for working moms to adhere to a strict 9–5 onsite schedule. For me, I don’t think it would be doable. It’s great that Time Inc. is flexible about working arrangements as long as I get my work done.
You mentioned that you work remotely part of the time. How do you balance these two different work environments while maintaining team cohesion?
Right now, everyone on the team pretty much works on their own schedule. There are a few things you don’t miss, like important meetings throughout the day, but as long as you keep connected and get your work done it’s very flexible. I find that the key to working remotely is to stay connected through chat, video conferencing, and screen share. That way you don’t end up sending 20 emails back and forth before you figure out what’s going on.
For my team, we’re always kind of working remotely because Time Inc.’s main office is in New York — a three-hour time difference. Even when we’re onsite in Seattle, we do a lot of communicating with the New York team. So it’s really important to keep communication lines open with the main office and with each other.
What advice do you have for other women interested in working in tech?
I think the tech field is a great field for women to be in. The first misconception that women tend to have is that programming means working by yourself in an isolated environment and not talking to other people. That’s a false assumption, because programmers often have to work on large software products with a large team of people that all need to get along. So I think the reality of software development is actually better than a lot of the preconceptions that women have before they go into the field.
But as it is now, it’s hard for women to find mentors in the field. A lot of women my age have dropped out of the field and are not coming back. That means that 10, 20 years down the road, the women who would be mentors — senior developers mentoring new, young junior developers — are simply not there any more. I think we need to put more effort into recruiting women into tech so that the next generation can feel more of an even male-to-female ratio in the workforce.
I would also just say, don’t be discouraged. When I first started out taking computer science classes in undergrad, I always felt like I was less smart than some of my male counterparts who were very confident. But confidence is not always equivalent to being right. So don’t get discouraged, keep your head up, and keep on learning.
Looking for a job as rewarding as Claire’s? Check out the following positions at Time, Inc. Seattle and Brooklyn offices:
Time, Inc. Brooklyn, NY
Software Engineer (SDE I) — Time Inc. Engineering, Video
Senior Software Engineer (SDE II) — Time Inc. Engineering, Video
Tech Lead – SDE III — Time Inc. Engineering, Video
Mobile Engineer (SDE II) — Time Inc. Engineering, Video
Senior Software Engineer, Ad Distribution
Senior Technical Program Manager