Why Qualtrics – Erin Leonhard – Software Engineer – Seattle, WA
One thing that attracted me to the field of software engineering, in general, is the boundless choice of what industry you can work in. Since I had a lot of options, I knew I wanted to work somewhere where I could make an impact on normal people and where the people I worked with were passionate about what they build. Qualtrics completely redefined the meaning of both of those requirements for me.
The platform we build at Qualtrics is focused on making our clients better. Our products help them collect the data that tells them what/where they’ve missed on expectations and identify how they can make things better for their customers and employees. Every time I encounter a Qualtrics survey out in the world, it’s a little reminder of how what I do enables those touchpoints that improve our daily experiences. And it helps that the folks who work here are beyond passionate about creating the best experiences for our customers and employees.
What surprised you most about working at Qualtrics?
Definitely how ready everyone is to make changes for the better. In the three years I’ve been here, I’ve seen so many changes, big and small. And it’s not just the executives. People at all levels are questioning the way things are done and improving our processes to be smarter, faster, and easier. The push for inclusivity also impresses me on a regular basis. I love how committed our leadership is to supporting the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas.
What does your day look like?
I’m an engineering team lead so I spend most of my time either coding up features or coordinating on behalf of my team with others in the company. Each day looks a little different, but I always start by identifying my goals for the day. This is my favorite time of day because I get to answer the question of “What can I do today to set up my team for the most success?”
My role as a team lead puts me in this super special position where I can multiply the efforts of my teammates every day. Sometimes that means I’m jumping in on a distracting bug fix so the rest of the team can stay focused on the features we want to release that week. Sometimes it means tracking conversations between stakeholders from multiple teams to identify the most pressing needs of our team’s products from an operational and engineering perspective. And sometimes it just means standing out of the way and letting my team do what they’re good at.
In between the tasks I take on to help the team as a whole, I also get to flex my creativity and engineering skills to code up and test new features myself. It’s a super rewarding mix, especially since I get to do it all in collaboration with the super passionate folks who work at Qualtrics.
What made you want to get into engineering?
I actually started out studying journalism and ended up in engineering by happy accident. Unsure where to go next, I realized that my journalism classes weren’t engaging me or challenging me enough. So, I ended up taking an informatics class recommended by a friend just to fill up my schedule while I figured things out.
I enjoyed the class, so I switched my major to informatics. I was a bit behind in course credits by this point, though, and I needed to take some summer classes to catch up. The introductory computer science course was the only class I could take that counted toward my new major before I completed the discrete math prerequisite so I enrolled without a second thought.
That computer science class is what got me into engineering. My professor introduced us to how coders essentially just use language to build things that solve problems. This was a use for my skills in language and composition that played to my interest in math and challenged me more than anything else I’d tried to learn before.
After that class, I switched majors once again. More advanced classes and software engineering internships further solidified my interest in building products that help people, which ultimately led me to my role as an engineer at Qualtrics.
What is your favorite part of your role?
I love the variety in my day. I get to dabble in a little bit of both engineering and product management so I strategize the next set of features our users need and then I implement those features. At a larger company, I understand it’s pretty rare to step outside of your assigned role like that. At Qualtrics, I get to solve product problems and technical problems. Both of which is highly rewarding to me in different ways.
Also, I get to engage in recruiting and gender diversity efforts. I write and edit blog posts on the engineering blog (check it out) and serve on the Women’s Leadership Development Recruiting Committee in Seattle. I love that I get to work on the initiatives that interest me, on top of getting to build statistical analysis software that challenges me.
Qualtrics is growing, and if you're ready to find your "why" at a place like this, you can explore our open opportunities at any time by visiting our career page. Looking to discover more reasons "Why Qualtrics"? You can find the whole series here.
|Erin is an alumnus of Indiana University Bloomington and started her career at Qualtrics! Outside of work, Erin loves piano, drawing, good books and movies, drinking good coffee, and reading the news.|