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Take Six with Cathy O’Brien, Software Engineer

You’ve been with CarePort for nearly a year. Congratulations! What drew you to the company? 

The timing was just perfect! When I first started looking for my next role, I found that CarePort was looking for a software engineer with a focus on the front-end, or user interface (UI) side, of the stack as part of a new UI-focused team. I researched CarePort and its products, and was lucky enough to go through the interview process in-person just before everyone began working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to meet everyone in-person, it just felt like a natural fit and I could see myself working with each person that I talked to. The team felt like a really great group to join, and with a product that solves a real-world problem and would be fun to work on. It’s mostly about the people for me; I need to enjoy who I’m working with and see us as partners on everything. Even though I onboarded with CarePort remotely, everyone on the team still made me feel welcome.

Can you share what your role entails here at CarePort? 

Our team has grown since I joined the company, and I’m now one of four engineers focused on the UI and front-end portion of the products. I split my time between working with my fellow engineers on the product and with the UI team identifying areas where we can build and create resources for a consistent cross-product experience for the customer. It’s a really interesting space to be a part of.

You volunteer for some organizations outside of work. Can you share about these experiences?

I transitioned into tech after working for seven years in another industry. Long story short, out of college I had a business degree and began working in insurance and after seven years, I was bored out of my mind! I couldn’t see myself moving forward on the career paths that were available to me. One day, I was talking with my husband – who is a mobile engineer – and his work had hired a few people out of coding bootcamps. He told me I should participate in a bootcamp, as I already had a bit of coding experience from high school and college and so I might be successful. A few weeks later, I was ready to switch careers. I enrolled in a coding bootcamp and gave my notice at my insurance job.

During that time, I needed to find communities where I felt supported and could meet – and learn from – others who had been in a similar position as myself, or who had been in the industry for a long time. I started attending meetups, and I found two groups: Tech Ladies and Women Who Code. I heard talks on all sorts of topics within tech, including front-end, back-end, data, machine learning, product, UX design and startups, and met people in various roles, and in different stages of their careers. After earning my first role in tech, I was so grateful to these groups. I offered to become more involved in both groups, and the rest is history! I’ve been working with them since 2017.

What are you passionate about outside of work? 

My main hobby prior to the pandemic was organizing and attending local meetup events both with Women Who Code Boston and Tech Ladies. I was attending one to two events every week, working to find companies that wanted to be supportive of local meetup groups and possibly recruiting for their own teams. Of course, without the ability to meet in-person right now, both groups currently meet online. I’ve transitioned into a community manager role for Tech Ladies, but I still plan online events for Women Who Code. It’s different, but it’s still a major hobby for me and is how I spend a large amount of my time. It helps keep me connected to a community of people, where I can keep learning and growing but also help others do the same. It’s fun, but also rewarding for me personally.

People would be surprised if they knew: 

I now emcee events for Tech Ladies and Women Who Code, but I went out of my way to avoid public speaking in high school. In order to get out of a public speaking class, I took a different communications course – and that’s actually how I first learned to code, in a web-mastering class. I learned HTML and CSS with tools like Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks and FrontPage. Through high school and college, I built websites for different student groups that I volunteered with, and also made custom designs for my friends’ social media and blogs – like Myspace, Xanga, LiveJournal and Neopets, if you remember what those are! What I went through to build these pages is basically like a bad dream now. The web has made such vast improvements since then, and in the eight years between college and my coding bootcamp in 2017. I think some people have been surprised – since I completely changed careers a bit later on – that I had exposure to coding in these earlier days… and that I first learned how to code all because I was afraid of public speaking, and now host live events all the time.

What is your favorite food?

I absolutely love pizza. Whether it’s from a cheap chain, my favorite local restaurant or homemade. Pizza is just perfect. You can either have the most gourmet pizza at a really fancy restaurant, or you can make it vegan, gluten free, or just super simple and cheesy, and it hits the spot any day of the week. My husband and I started making dough and sauce from scratch a couple years ago, but with COVID-19, it became a regular staple in 2020. It’s just a perfect comfort food.

 

Would you like to work with Cathy? CarePort is hiring for roles across product, engineering and other departments. Take a look at our open positions and apply today!

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