VMware CodeHouse Atlanta, a multi-day, virtual experience for women students studying Computer Science or a related field, empowering you to work on a real-world project that will positively impact STEM education for underrepresented communities.
In 2019, VMware held its first CodeHouse Atlanta. Paris Walters was a lucky attendee and went on to become Site Reliability Engineer at VMware, read on to learn more about her journey.
My story begins as many opportunities do, as a series of unplanned adventures with experiences unknowingly preparing us. In college, students, including myself, we’re encouraged to set up a professional online presence on LinkedIn. This proved to be pivotal to my career, as it was how a recruiter from VMWare reached out to me about CodeHouse in April 2019!
At the time, I was an intern, and I started to grow an interest in Kubernetes after attending KubeCon in Denmark in 2018. Next year, out of the blue, I received a LinkedIn message from a VMware recruiter invite to attend an CodeHouse Atlanta that would be focused on Kubernetes. I quickly spoke with HR at my current company to gain approval on attending an outside company’s coding event. Surprisingly, I received the approval and applied. As for many applications, as a college student, there is a sense of nervousness and excitement. Then came the waiting game that every college student has experienced.
The email response came with the interviewing process of a HackerRank challenge. Luckily, I was taking a Data Structures class at the time, so I had a “Challenge Accepted” mindset. After two weeks and over ten times a day of checking and refreshing my inbox, I received the email: “Congratulations – on behalf of VMware’s University Talent team…”! I was crazy excited and couldn’t fully focus on work that day.
That year, CodeHouse Atlanta was hosted in a mansion in Buckhead, one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the city. Of course, all the women explored the house and its seven bedrooms and gourmet kitchen; it was massive, and we were all excited to spend the next three days here. Once we got settled in and connected to WiFi, we received our challenge briefing and went straight to work that first night. We tied the night up with a personal chef making us dinner!
The whole weekend had a similar cadence to the first evening, with sprinkles of awesome conversations and a coding dance party. After the challenge winners were announced and a farewell party, we all exchanged information and promised to keep in touch. I left with a feeling of sisterhood with my fellow women in tech. Being in that space with other future women engineers with similar backgrounds and similar cultures was encouraging and strengthening my confidence in pursuing my career. This left an imprint on me to seek a company that could give the same sense of belongingness and sisterhood as CodeHouse did.
I continued my internship while I finished my degree but unfortunately, there was not a full-time role available after graduation. One of my goals while in college was to walk across the graduation stage as a student and come out the other side as an engineer. I began searching for my new role. I landed a role with a startup company that had a fun and pop culture environment; however, something was missing for me — I wanted a challenge, an opportunity to grow my career to the top, and most importantly a space to have a sisterhood of women engineers, like CodeHouse.
I turned on my notifications on my LinkedIn profile that I was open to new opportunities. A few weeks and a few interviews later, I received a message from another VMware recruiter, Tiffany Chen. She was very encouraging; she gave me more information about the role and answered all my questions about seeking a place where I could grow. After the interview process, receiving the offer letter, and settling into my new role, I discovered CodeHouse Atlanta was just the tip of the iceberg of what VMware has to offer. I felt this is the place to grow my career and to be a part of VMware’s culture to increase our diversity in tech and to grow our sisterhood. I think this is vital for each engineer within our community to do our part and to continue to encourage incoming college graduates. So, I kept with this value, and reached out to VMWare CodeHouse recruiters and asked, “how I can help and become a mentor?”
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