Ask anyone at Greenhouse what they love about this company and you’re likely to hear the same answer: the people! In this new series, we’ll be getting to know some of the people who make Greenhouse such a special place to work.
There was a very clear moment when Ellie Wawrzaszek’s life changed. It wasn’t when she moved to Turkey after college or the two years she spent in Austria after that. It wasn’t even when she made the decision to move to New York City. No, her life-changing moment took place in a 7th grade classroom, when she saw that 13-year-olds could learn to code.
Ellie had been fascinated by software development, but felt intimidated to pursue this mysterious subject. Seeing firsthand that 7th graders could do it, she decided she couldn’t make any more excuses about her own capabilities. And she didn’t! Ellie is now working at Greenhouse as a front-end developer. We caught up with Ellie to learn more about her career journey, her path to software development as a woman, and her role at Greenhouse.
Greenhouse: How would you describe your career path so far?
Ellie Wawrzaszek: I went to Williams College for art history, and after graduating I taught at a private university in Turkey and then with the Fulbright Commission in Austria. Then I ended up getting accepted to a New York City teaching fellows program, where you get your Masters and teach in public schools at the same time. I had gradually realized that I didn’t want to teach, so I did a lot of networking, exploring different options. The thing that really stuck was programming. Last summer I went to App Academy and after I graduated, I started here at Greenhouse in November.
GH: That’s quite a leap! What prompted you to switch from teaching to software development?
EW: Where I grew up—I’m from a rural town in Wisconsin—most of the women I knew were stay-at-home moms or teachers. So I didn’t have that many potential careers in mind when I was in college.
My final year of teaching coincided with the Women’s March, and I think there was an element of this movement that pushed me to set aside my fears and learn to program. I knew that being a female in tech was not going to be easy—at App Academy I was one of just 2 women in a cohort of 60—but the women’s movement helped me realize that I couldn’t let my fears stop me from pursuing the career I wanted.
One thing that also really stood out to me in my last year of teaching was that most of my seventh grade students were learning to program. When I heard that my students were writing code, that led me to overcome my hesitation and just go for it!
GH: How did you end up at Greenhouse? And what was your application experience like?
EW: App Academy is a tuition-deferred program, so they are invested in your landing a job and being able to pay them back. Because of that, the job search is extremely structured and you’re required to send 40 applications a week.
I had one other onsite before Greenhouse and the two experiences were like night and day in terms of the interview process and level of professionalism. Here you can tell that the Greenhouse interview process is like a science. When I got my offer, it wasn’t a difficult decision!
GH: How would you describe your time at Greenhouse so far?
EW: I feel no stress, but yet I’m very productive and trusted to do my job. Everyone here is valued. And even though I’m relatively new, I’m already able to contribute.
The whole process of onboarding with all the info sessions gives you a good understanding of what the company’s values are, the role of the different departments, and how everything comes together. It gives you a feeling of ownership and pride in the place where you work.
GH: Are there any particular moments of your Greenhouse experience that stand out?
EW: I started 3 or 4 weeks before the all hands week and there was so much buzz leading up to it—and it really delivered! We had so much fun!
GH: What is a typical day like for you? What types of projects are you working on?
EW: My team handles engineering requests from the marketing team. Today, for example, I spent most of the day debugging something and I literally just fixed it an hour ago. I’m so happy—with engineering, it’s the most rewarding feeling when you’re struggling with something and you finally get it to work.
GH: What’s your advice to people who are thinking about pursuing a career in software development?
EW: You have to embrace the fact that you won’t always get it right immediately, but that with practice and exposure, finally things will click.
Did we mention that we’re hiring? Learn more about Greenhouse and explore our open roles here.