My Name Is Will Lawrence — This Is Why I Joined Aha!
One of my favorite parts of the week is reading the Aha! release notes. We publish them every Friday to summarize the latest updates to the product suite. On the page, it looks like a list of bullet points. But release notes represent so much more — all of the ideation, problem-solving, and development work we do every day to deliver more value to customers.
This is one reason why I love engineering — the end result is something real and mindfully created to make people happy.
In college, I studied chemical engineering for a few years. I enjoyed the highly technical work but it was not as creative as I wanted. So I switched to pursue a degree in English — I loved writing. I stuck with it but I found that I missed working on technical challenges. As I looked into career options, I thought hard about what would bridge these two interests. That is when programming came to mind — I only took a couple of classes in it but I remembered being excited to do the homework every week.
Feeling energized by this realization, I spoke with a mentor who encouraged me to attend a coding bootcamp. After an intense 14 weeks, I had what I needed to land my first engineering position with a company that designed and implemented corporate wellness programs. I excelled quickly in that role and was soon promoted.
Not long after, the company acquired a smaller platform. The plan was to leverage their technology to rewrite our own using Ruby on Rails. I was tapped to be a part of this transition team. It was exciting to tackle a project like this that called on my creative thinking and technical acumen to succeed. This also gave me an opportunity to explore new technologies. I had been working with the .NET framework up until that point. When I learned Ruby, I fell in love with it.
Ruby is designed for creating concise, beautiful code with the developer in mind — it is fun to use and supported by a helpful community.
During those years, I was fortunate to learn from an experienced senior engineer on the team. When that person left the company, things began to stall. I was craving more room to grow and experts to learn from. I started searching for a new role and saw an Aha! job post on Hacker News. When I learned that the engineering team was dedicated to Ruby and fully remote, I decided to apply.
Now as a member of the Aha! engineering team, I focus on making our products easier to develop and use. For example, I helped to build out the component library. This brings consistency to our products and makes life easier for all engineers in the organization. I am also proud of the accessibility work that I do on the team. Some companies shirk this responsibility because it can be difficult — at Aha! we are committed to it. We know that it makes our app better for everyone.
Our team is made up of super smart, well-rounded people. I love that we help each other learn — making us all more collaborative and independent at the same time. I also love that we use our own software every day. This makes a huge difference in the appreciation and passion we have for what we are building.
Joining Aha! has brought me a lot of joy and accelerated my growth as an engineer. As an unexpected plus, I have come to deeply appreciate that Aha! is bootstrapped.
Before working here, I did not have a strong preference on the ways companies are founded and funded. But it has been refreshing to see how the transparency, independence, and thoughtfulness that come part and parcel with our bootstrap principles align with my own values.
There is one other bonus. I get to put my English degree to use by helping to manage our engineering blog. (I wrote this post about how we use Capybara to test responsive code.) Similar to our release notes, the blog symbolizes all of our hard work. And it gives potential new hires insight into how our team operates — hopefully inspiring folks to join us in our endeavor to build exceptionally high-quality software.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.