I’m a software developer with 15 years work experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work at a startup - Booktrope, at Zoe Media Group - Hollywood fashion consultant and reality TV star Rachel Zoe’s company, and very well known and respected corporations Amazon and Meta. I also spent two years in Japan! It was always my dream to live in a foreign country.

Five months after Japan was rocked with a 9.1 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, I left CrownPeak 1 month shy of my five year anniversary and moved there. I had earned a spot in Stanford’s Japanese immersion school in Yokohama. Space is highly limited, so the selection process is super competitive. I had studied Japanese for 4 years, however 3 years were spent at a night school for adults. The majority of applicants were from IVY league schools like, Stanford, Yale, and Carnegie Melon. There was no way I was going to let the situation deter me from my dream. After Graduation, I spent a year working at a Japanese company in Tokyo. An opportunity to work at a startup company drew me back to the US.

My time at Booktrope turned out to be adefining moment of my career. They hired me to be developer number one and head R&D. It was a great learning experience. I had my hands in everything across a bunch of technologies, rails, postgresql, jquery, react, heroku, parseserver, aws, ec2, wordpress, php, and iOS (objective-c). I also lead the team and imposed our development standards and lead roundtables on where the technology should beheaded. It was a tremendous growth experience.

Sadly, we ran out of money. Not knowing where to go next, I went to Japan, did some interviews, received offers, however, I decided to stay in the US. At this point a former Booktroper sent me a job description for a developer advocacy position at Amazon Alexa. So I applied, looped, and received an offer.

During my time at Amazon Alexa, I realized how much I enjoy leaning into my creativity to activate and inspire others to build and create. I had the pleasure of working with an Instructional Designer. He challenged me put the learner first to meet them where they are. In the process he taught me everything he knew about creating optimized learning experiences. We even incorporated a puppet into one of our children’s programming initiatives. His tutelage elevated the quality of my work and my CSAT scores came along for the ride.

One year into my tenure at Amazon I got the opportunity to give a presentation at the Alexa Developer Conference in Tokyo. Prior to my speaking slot, several of my American colleagues presented in English through an interpreter. I’ll never forget the energy and the collective audible gasp that rose from the audience as I greeted them in Japanese. Thirty minutes later I wrapped my presentation and walked over to the Q&A counter to find a long line of attendees waiting to meet me. My Japanese colleagues joked that I was famous in Japan. The Japanese Alexa Community members often inquired into when I would next come to Japan. I also went went viral for a joke I tweeted. My phone blew up for over 48 hours and many of my Japanese friends who didn’t follow me kept messaging me asking why my face was all over their twitter feeds.

The pandemic clipped our travel wings, so we turned to virutal events in order to continue reaching new audiences and bring excitement to the Alexa Developer Community. Since change is the constant of life, I decided to take an opportunity with the Smart TV domain under Alexa Smart Home. My Alexa knowledge combined with my language skills and experience working in Japan were a natural fit for working our 3rd party Japanese TV manufacturers.

My third and final opportunity at Amazon was kind of Homecoming. I became a Technical Product Manager for the Alexa Science team. I had worked closely with many of the engineers, product managers, project managers, and directors during my tenure as a Developer Advocate. My deep understanding of what makes a great Alexa experience served me well in the pursuit of identifying, recruiting, and signing third-parties to launch flagship Alexa experiences.

Once the world started to normalize, I caught the bug to do what I love best leaning into my knowledge and creativity to educate, activate and inspire others to build meaningful software. That’s when I discovered that Meta was looking for a Senior Developer Advocate to help organize, systematize, and scale their PyTorch advocacy strategy. Although my tenure was cut short due to mass layoffs, I had the opportunity to work with professors and students at MIT to create and incubate a new Introduction to AI/ML Programming with PyTorch. The workshop received a CSAT score of 4.8/5 the highest rated workshop to date. It became the foundation to systematize workshop creation and laid the foundation to feed into other initiatives to empower external meetup organizers to organize and host their own PyTorch meetups on our behalf.

As I stand here on the mountain of life, I look over my shoulder to see how far I’ve climbed. It feels great to see all that I have accomplished over 15 years. As I turn to face the next part of the climb, I’m excited to see what will come next and what I’ll look back over 5 years from now.