• Natalie Wild

Women of Tech Meets: Sarit - Backend Engineer

I recently caught up with Sarit. Sarit is based in Israel and works in the tech industry as a Backend Engineer.

Where are you at now in your tech career, and how did you come to be there?

Since I was in High School I knew that I wanted to learn Computer Science and everything I did from that point was working towards my goal of being a Software Engineer. I was quite lucky in knowing what I wanted to do from early on.

My route into working in tech is quite interesting - whilst I was still at University in my second year I started working in a student position as a Firmware Engineer, coding in C.

There are so many options that you can pursue; frontend, backend, UI, UX, you can work with iOS or Android. Or if you don’t want to code you can work in project management roles, for example – there are so many things to consider, so many options.

That student role helped me to experience with a few different things and really understand in myself what I wanted to do. If you have an opportunity to experience that kind of real-world experience early on its something that I recommend to anyone.

I’ve worked for a number of start-ups since leaving University - experiencing different environments and maximising my exposure to different technologies.

I currently work as a Backend Engineer at a start-up company, I really like it. It excites me, I love what I do – my speciality is cloud and working with databases which in itself is a broad area, it covers a lot which keeps my work really interesting.

Was there anything in particular that you feel perhaps steered you in that direction?

When I was around 13 years old we had our first computer come in to the family home – I remember it being a really exciting time – I had a lot of fun learning and playing on it and it was a really big eye opener as to what I could do.

At the High School I attended in Israel, in the 10th Grade we had what could be called a taster and learnt about all of the different subjects that it is possible to major in, and then in the 11th and 12th Grade we choose what we wanted to go on and study.

Having that experience at that age of all the different subjects, computer science included was really great. I got to learn some basics and I loved it.

I think it was a combination of those two things that really sparked my interest in this area of work.

You mention that you’ve worked for a number of start-ups since leaving University, is there something about working for start-ups that draws you in?

I feel like in start-ups I can have a really big impact - the code you’re producing can be helping a lot of people.

Are there any particular skills that you’ve found to be quite invaluable so far on your journey in technology?

I think that when you’re a Software Engineer there are things that you need to be prepared to learn - there is always something new that you can learn. The technology is always changing, always improving and if for example I don’t learn anything over the space of a year then it’s possible to be behind on the up to date information.

The ability to be curious I think is a skill, to ask questions and look for answers yourself too.

What do you personally enjoy the most about working with technology?

I like the problems that you have to solve – they are complex and interesting and its satisfying to resolve.

I think being able to have an impact, even if it’s just a small impact on the world through the people using the products I’ve helped to build.

Is there anything that you think employers could be doing more of to support women who are thinking about, or are already working in technology?

Sometimes the qualifications that someone needs to have in order to even be considered as an applicant is really, really lengthy and that can put people off who would otherwise be outstanding at that job – they maybe have only 3 years’ experience instead of the required 5 years’ experience but tick all of the other boxes.

Research tells us that men will apply for a job if they feel they meet only 60% of the qualification requirements whereas women will often only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the required specifications.

Employers could acknowledge this better. I encourage them to relax their specification requirements, or at least differentiate on vacancy listings between what is really necessary to do the job and what is a desirable advantage.

This could stimulate more applications from excellent candidates but still maintain the high standard they expect.

Do you have a favourite podcast?

I do – it’s a podcast in Hebrew. Its name translates to ‘Uncultured Developers’. I think it’s one of the more recognised podcasts here in Israel and they cover a really wide range of topics.

Each episode they are talking about something different – for example episode 101 they’re talking about personal branding, something that I’d not really considered too much before is now an element of my professional self that helps me to be the best Engineer that I can be.

Other topics include; cloud, databases, scalability. Performance reviews, working in teams – there’s a lot of variety and different aspects in there!

Is there any particular ‘tech moment’ that you’re particularly proud of yourself for having achieved?

In 2020 I received a Community Award from the Women Tech Network which is something I’m proud of.

The Women Tech Network is a really big community that’s great fun to be part of, to be recognised by them for my contributions to the community and industry members was a nice achievement.

When working from home began following the Covid outbreak I gained a little bit of time that would have otherwise been spent commuting. Some of that time I’ve used to do some accredited courses online.

During Covid I also had an article published on a popular technology website here in Israel and the feedback I received from that was incredible.

What advice do you wish that someone had given to you at the start of your tech career?

I think it’s important to gain some experience in lots of different areas as early on in your journey as you can – it will help you to find out what you’re passionate about. When you’re passionate about your work, it feels less like work!

Secondly, I would say, don’t be shy to ask questions – that has been crucial for me both at the start of my career and still so relevant now.

Finally, I would suggest, do what you want to do. If it sparks that passion in you, pursue it. You will find satisfaction and fulfilment from what you do, if it is something that you want to do.

What does a typical work day look like for you as a Backend Engineer?

It has changed a little bit because of Covid, working from home has become the normality for now. Working from home has made the line between work life and home life a little blurred but the work day structure hasn’t changed.

Our team is a multi-disciplinary platform team consisting of for example, Full Stack Engineer, Team Leader, Project Manager, QA… - it enables us to function as a unit having such a diverse skillset.

We start the day with a stand-up meeting where we share and discuss what we did yesterday, what we’re going to be working on today, if there are any problems that need some input, if there are any priorities of tasks – things like that.

Writing code is a big part of my role so a lot of my time is dedicated to that.

Tasks can be small and simple, or larger and more complex in which case they may require some planning or research before writing code. Researching can take up some time depending on the complexity of the problem we’re looking to solve.

I try to set aside some time for some reading – if there is a new way of doing something or a new technology that is coming available, or a new theory even, it’s helpful to know about it to see if that’s something that could be integrated now or implemented at a later date.

There may be some meetings to attend to discuss projects or ideas with colleagues.

There can be a surprising level of variety as a Software Engineer even though the wider structure of the work day is fairly fixed.

What is your go to desk snack?

…. I think we might need a whole other chat just to answer that question – there are too many!

Do you have any tips or tricks that you’d be willing to share with readers, that you’ve found to be helpful when searching for a new work opportunity?

I would recommend having an up to date LinkedIn profile – it’s something that a lot of HR and recruiting teams are using now.

I’d also suggest applying for positions that interest you even if you think you meet perhaps only 75% of the skill or experience requirements. You might still be the perfect candidate for the role, or they may have another opening that would be more suiting to your current skill set – you don’t know unless you apply.

Schedule your interviews wisely. If you’re successful in being invited to several interviews, try and schedule them close together so that if you then receive offer(s) you can make an informed decision without having to wait another week for the next interview, for example.

My last tip is that if there’s a dream job you want, or a specific company that you really want to work for - practice doing interviews! Use the experience from other applications, other interviews to help work towards that. There is value in having interview experience.

You can connect with Sarit on LinkedIn:

Useful Links, mentioned by Sarit - Notarbut Podcast - Women Tech Network