My Name Is Jess von Euw — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
A few years ago, I was catching up with a high school classmate and mentioned that I work in software development. She found that somewhat surprising. She remembered me as a super sporty, ultra-competitive kid — not techy in the slightest. For years I was a passionate soccer player and even captained a Quidditch team. I see how it might seem incongruous to go from charging down the field to coding at a computer, but I love both sides of myself in equal measure. Sports and software both rely on ambition and teamwork.
Pushing toward a collective win — together with equally motivated and committed people — is what energizes me most.
I initially planned to study kinesiology in college. But I realized becoming a physical therapist or personal trainer did not appeal to me after all. I wanted to work on a dynamic team and try out different industries. So I considered engineering — between medical, software, and aerospace, there was so much to explore. I made a quick pivot and applied for an engineering program two weeks before I was supposed to start school.
Studying engineering was really challenging. But I made close friends and we powered through those early semesters together. I tried some coding classes early on which piqued my interest in computer engineering. Soon after that a fellow student showed me a website he developed. He had an idea, built it, and brought it to life — I thought that was awesome.
Feeling inspired, I applied for a co-op with a company in the Silicon Valley area. There I was introduced to a variety of web technologies and worked on internal data applications. At the same time, I was able to attend presentations from engineers at Facebook, Google, and other leading companies. My passion for front-end web development grew exponentially that year — fueled by what I learned on the job and from the experts.
With all I had learned and practiced, I set my goalposts — I was ready to kick off the next stage of my career.
One of my first roles as a software developer was with a small startup, helping to develop front-end web applications for a smart mirror. I loved the friendly and fast-paced atmosphere, but I wanted to try a more structured role at a larger organization. So I joined an advertising agency and got the opportunity to learn new technologies like React. I used React for many projects — like building the front end of an application that reaches millions of users each day for a major car manufacturer. I loved leading and mentoring my small team on coding best practices and career development.
Three years into client-facing work, I decided to recenter on building in-house software. I saw Aha! had a job opening for a senior software engineer. After researching the products, I could tell Aha! was building something unique and applied. The interview process was refreshing. It was not the typical whiteboard interview with quiz questions about algorithms and hypothetical scenarios. It challenged my real-world skills. And everyone I spoke to at Aha! was so helpful throughout — it felt like teamwork, not a test.
As part of the Aha! engineering team, I have helped build major front-end features — including a customer onboarding wizard and aspects of our newest product, Aha! Create. I am constantly collaborating with my peers and our CTO Dr. Chris Waters to deliver the most value to customers. My favorite part is turning innovative ideas into tangible, interactive experiences that fit with our codebase and are delightful to use. This is always a challenging but satisfying process.
Aha! engineering is a united force — facing every challenge head-on and driving closer to our goals every day.
It is motivating to work with such a high-achieving — and happy — engineering team. And while I opt for running rather than organized sports these days, I still get to experience the same sense of collective drive at Aha! that I did when I was on my soccer team. The "sport" looks a little different. But for me, it is just as exciting to play.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.