Zapier’s Dorcie Lovinsky on Carving Her Path to Data Engineering
Dorcie Lovinsky seeks activities that help bring balance into her life.
“My newest hobby is golf,” she shares. “It's a very technical, chill sport. I would say the yin to my yang.”
Her yang is the ambition and drive that not only fuels her work as Senior Data Manager at Zapier but is also what pushed her to become so successful today.
The daughter of working-class Haitian immigrants, Dorcie had to make her own way into the tech world.
“I feel like it's just been a constant battle throughout my career to feel like I belong because there aren't a lot of people that look like me. So my goal is to get more people that look like me into these spaces so that we don't have to do the extra work to feel like we belong.”
We sat down with Dorcie to learn more about how she carved her career path and the advice she gives to those seeking a career in data.
The Ambition to Make Her Way
The results of a high-school Keirsey Temperament Test are all it took for Dorcie to start making career decisions. She carefully analyzed the three it suggested: teaching, philanthropy, and computer science.
“In high school,” she recalls, “I realized that my family are immigrants who never really had a lot of money so I would need to make my own way. I looked at the salaries of all these types of jobs and realized computer science had the highest one. I thought, ‘If this test says I can do it, then I can do it.’”
However, she knew that trying to break into a male-dominated field would mean having to prove herself. So the summer before starting her college computer science program, she saved up all the money she earned as a cheerleading instructor and built her own computer.
“I thought that they weren’t going to take me seriously unless I built a computer,” she explains. “So I built my first computer and that gave me the confidence to feel like I can be in this room now.”
Taking Unexpected Advice
During an internship, she became a PeopleSoft developer, which helped her land her first job out of college.
With work she enjoyed and a nice salary to match, Dorcie was content. However, four years in, something happened that altered the trajectory of her career.
“One day the security guard at my work comes up to me and says that I needed to leave this place because people tend to get comfortable here and that I’d never do better unless I leave.”
Heeding his warning, Dorcie started applying to open positions and found a PeopleSoft development job in Manhattan. “It was really fun because I had always dreamt of working in Manhattan,” she shares gleefully.
Although she was living the dream, she knew that being a PeopleSoft developer offered limited opportunities. “I knew I was going to hit a ceiling quickly,” she explains, “So I started teaching myself iOS and iOS development.”
These new skills soon came in handy when her company began laying off employees.
“I was working for a public company that went private and laid off 80% of its workforce,” she reveals. “I remember walking in and thinking that they would never lay me off, but they laid me off.”
As devastating as losing one’s job can be, Dorice cried tears of relief instead of sadness. “I cried because I was overjoyed that I could finally make that pivot,” she admits. “I can finally do something else.”
Hustling and Teaching
Although she was walking away from job security, Dorcie was excited to explore new opportunities.
“I wanted to do something different,” she explains. “So I taught yoga, Zumba, and cycling because I loved all of those things. I also got a job as an adjunct professor teaching computer science and it was so much fun to get people excited about a topic that they aren’t inherently interested in.”
Dorcie spent two years enriching the lives of others through teaching sports and computer science.
Eventually, the hustling lifestyle became tiresome and Dorcie decided she needed a little more stability.
Pushing into Data
That stability came with a position at a small software company.
“I feel like all throughout my trajectory, I was always doing some kind of work with data,” she reflects. “PeopleSoft was very data-driven. It was almost like an analyst role because you were creating reports.”
However, before transitioning into data engineering, she was met with some barriers.
“At this previous job, they had posted a data engineering role, so I reached out to my manager's manager and said that I wanted it,” she recalls. “But to my face, he told me that I was not qualified.”
Then, when the company claimed to support and give opportunities to women, she couldn’t let this unfair denial go without comment.
“I said something to the director of the company and they gave me an interview for the position. I ended up being perfect for the job.”
Dorcie further progressed in her career by coming to Zapier, the leader in no-code automation. She started off as a manager of data engineers and has grown to manage multiple teams of data engineers and data scientists.
“I really like helping each of my teams work as one,” she shares proudly. “The most satisfying part of my job is helping people be efficient, helping them understand how to connect what they need to do with how much it's going to help other people, and telling stories with data.”
Within a little over a year and a half, her responsibilities have expanded to managing four different data teams.
“I have such a supportive manager who pushed me to do more than I thought I could,” she says. “I think it goes back to that fear of the unknown. Questioning yourself, can I do this? And someone saying, yes, you can do this.”
Advice for Pursuing a Career in Data Engineering
Dorcie’s path to Data Engineering wasn’t a typical one. Yet her story shows that if you put in the hard work, speak up for yourself, and are truly passionate about what you do, you can carve the path of your choice.
For those wanting to excel in the world of tech and data, here is Dorcie’s advice:
- Find your tribe: Dorcie describes a tribe as a “group of people that are extremely supportive.” She expresses that her tribe spans from her friends and family to her managers at work. “Having a tribe is super important because those are the people that are going to help you see the things that you don't see and give a different perspective, or just cheer you on when you're down on yourself.”
- Trusting your intuition: When you are put in unfamiliar situations and are met with certain challenges, Dorcie suggests asking yourself “Does this feel inherently good to me?” When making a career change do what is best for you, not what’s best for others.
- Continue to educate yourself: “There are all these Bootcamp classes that are showing up. So, don't be afraid to take an eight-week boot camp class or something like that to learn something new.”
- Continue to move forward in the face of adversity: Although Dorcie has an amazing story, her journey is a road paved with successes, failures, rejections, and tenacity. “There's a bit of struggle that happens all the time, but there are so many big wins at the end of the day that makes it so worth it.”
- Don’t let anyone hold you down: An employer once told Dorcie, ‘You’re not worth anything more’ when she had tried negotiating a raise. “I felt like I deserved it because I had put in a lot of extra hours to get our product MVP out the door. Plus, I was making way less money than I should have been. After hearing that, I didn’t let it get me down and made better career decisions going forward. I realized at that moment that sometimes there is a mismatch in how I value myself and how others value me and that shouldn’t define my future.”
If you’re looking to work in a supportive environment, check out Zapier’s job openings.