Allie Shaw, Software Engineer, Adobe As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I would’ve never imagined I would be a software engineer! I wanted to be either a dolphin trainer at Sea World or the president of the United States.What did you study in school?
I struggled early on in school and actually went to a nontraditional high school. I used to get really frustrated with my school work when I didn’t get things right away, or when I wasn’t immediately good at the things I was learning. Because of the school I went to, I didn’t have college scholarship options. I also didn’t have money saved for college. But after graduating high school, I decided I did want to pursue higher education. I joined the United Stated Marine Corps so that I could use the G.I. Bill to go to college and get some work experience.
After my term was up, I went to school for nursing for a while, but it didn’t feel like the right path for me. After that, I started teaching myself to code, and I fell in love with it. It was the first thing I had tried that really intrigued me. I found that I actually didn’t want to put down my computer at the end of the day. I wanted to keep learning. Around this time, I heard about the Adobe Digital Academy
, a program that provides an accelerated path into tech careers for candidates from nontraditional backgrounds. Adobe offers a scholarship and living stipend for candidates to attend a 12-week immersive bootcamp, followed by an opportunity to interview for an apprenticeship at Adobe, and then potentially land a full-time role. The program allowed me to go all-in and focus on learning coding as quickly as I could. After the bootcamp, I was offered the apprenticeship, and then a full-time role as a software engineer.How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
I get to work on Adobe Analytics products in partnership with not only my team, but other teams as well. A typical day for me might include working on bugs and features, releasing new versions of our product, and collaborating across teams. I love that I have an outside-in view of the product since it’s all still fairly new to me, and I get to bring in a fresh perspective to the things my team is working on.If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
While my path might be somewhat unique compared to other software engineers on my team, I wouldn’t change how I got here. I’ve learned so much along the way that prepared me for the role I’m in now. I learned values in the military that shaped me into how I conduct myself professionally. Learning web development in only 12 weeks furthered my grit and perseverance. I’m still learning how to overcome imposter syndrome and am lucky to have the support of my team guiding me. I think all of this has added up to make me who I am today, so while I could have taken a different path and maybe gotten here a little sooner, I think I took the path that was right for me.What professional advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would have told myself to be more patient and forgiving with myself. I thought I was limited in what I could accomplish professionally because of the school I went to and the path I had taken. One of the biggest thing I’ve learned is that almost everyone experiences imposter syndrome, whether you’re brand new in your role or you’ve worked at a company for 20 years. Most of us have that feeling some days that we aren’t qualified enough to be in the role we’re in, or that we somehow snuck our way in. My advice would be to not let your past dictate your future, and to acknowledge that imposter syndrome is a feeling that can be conquered.Describe your career trajectory.
I served as an Administrative Specialist in the Marine Corps. After my Marine Corps career, I wanted to go on to explore other options. I wanted to go to school and decided to study nursing, but I wasn’t really set on it.
I decided to take a break from school and explore other options and save the limited months left on my G.I. Bill for something I was passionate about. When I started learning how to code, I was waiting tables. It was then that I heard about the Adobe Digital Academy
from a friend. The program really spoke to me because a major technology company was willing to take people who had no knowledge of coding, teach them how to code, and then give them an apprenticeship and the potential for a full-time role. It was less than a one-year journey from starting the bootcamp to being hired full time. I had several mentors, on my own team and other teams, that helped me feel like I fit in and I could do this, even though some days were extremely hard. All of that combined helped me land my current role.
I went from the military to waiting tables to being a software engineer. Growth mindset is something I’ve learned is so important. We all have to work through that imposter syndrome and the fear that we don’t belong or can’t succeed. Having a network to help you through this and encourage you is so important. I’m involved with an organization called Operation Code
that helps other veterans get into tech.