Starting My First Job: 90 Days with Constant Contact
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Constant Contact.
I cannot believe it has been three months since I walked from Berkeley and walked into my first job in the Silicon Valley. The beginning of this September marks the ninety days that I have been at my first new job as a software engineer for Constant Contact. It seemed like yesterday that I was still working on my Senate projects, hurriedly studying for my finals, or celebrating my graduation with family and friends. Needless to say, my first quarter with this company has been an extremely enlightening experience in: how enterprise software and engineering works, the ways in which corporate culture is both similar and different to college, and in general how rewarding working and shifting to a full-time life has been for me. Below is an account of what it was like for me to start my new job, the things I learned along the way, and the things that get me up every morning ready for work.
While I will not disclose all my reasons for choosing Constant Contact, I will share a few that I think would be relevant to students who are beginning their careers. For those who are not familiar, Constant Contact (CTCT) is a software company with one goal: to empower small businesses and nonprofits around the world with the digital marketing software they need to grow their potential. For those who are less acquainted with my experience in community organizing, shifting from grassroots organizing at Berkeley to working at a corporation was indeed a huge step that I decided on, but finding a corporation where I valued and truly believed in its mission was a big concern for me. At Berkeley, I learned one thing about myself – my success tends to hinge on whether or not I intrinsically believe in what I am doing – and I am positive that that statement will probably ring true for most readers too. That is primarily why I chose CTCT over the other opportunities and offers that I had to choose between.
In addition to choosing CTCT for its mission, I chose this company for its kickass engineering team. Out of the dozen or so companies that I got to tour and meet the engineering teams with, nothing compared to my experience meeting the CTCT team in San Francisco. In addition to knowing out of college that I would only thrive in a place that I truly believed in, I knew that I wanted to work in an environment where I could continue to learn from the people that I was surrounded with every day. Immediately after the tour of the SF office and the lunch that we had with the entire office, I was extremely impressed with the team members that I had met: some were veteran engineers who had been working in the Valley for years, some were astute technologists who had a unique perspective on how to think about software, and some were entrepreneurs who were extremely successful at scaling companies. I was not star-struck but rather inspired that I had a chance to learn about how a big company does software engineering, how they think about problems, and how they code for sustainability. To think, I had the chance to work with these people was a phenomenal opportunity and proposition that I did not really find at other companies. More importantly, it was not an opportunity I could pass up.
After being here for ninety days though, what I truly appreciate about CTCT compared to other tech companies that I got to visit is the culture. For me, I have been used to the cutthroat nature of the sink-or-swim culture of Berkeley where you do not get to ask “dumb” questions, where getting scoffed at for asking for help is not uncommon, and where people are just generally unhelpful. So far, I have not gotten that vibe here at all. For a company to say that they care about connecting people as their business model is one thing. For them to actually embody those values and be intentional about that mindset is another. For CTCT, that intentionality is everyday life. I have never been in an environment where people would be more than willing to drop whatever they are doing to get me up to speed or to pair program with me all day. That is something that I appreciate about the engineering culture here that is such a relief from the grind of Berkeley.