[00:00:19] Kate Martin: Welcome to the apprenticeship.io podcast, where we gather the courageous leaders, the tech industry needs to talk about education, equity, job hunts, hiring in tech and you guessed it apprenticeships. Whether you're considering a career switch to tech, currently studying, or working and leading in tech, we hope to show you stories, ideas, and tactics to inspire you and equip you to make the tech industry and our future together a more equitable place for all of us. Let's get to know today's guest.
[00:00:50] Kamrin Klauschie: Today's guest is Roche Janken. Roche became an Apprentice Software Engineer at Uber in May 2016 after attending Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco in 2015. Roche transitioned into software engineering after a 10 year modern dance career. While she was a dancer, she also had side hustles as a bookkeeper, a yoga instructor, and a project manager. She studied Dance at the University of Michigan. Roche loves dogs, nerding out about privacy, and her feminist mom. Roche's personal motto in 2018 was "fake it until you make it, baby."
[00:01:24] This episode was originally recorded in April 2018.
[00:01:27] Welcome to the apprenticeship.io podcast.
[00:01:30] Roche Janken: Thanks for having me.
[00:01:32] Kamrin Klauschie: So excited to chat with you. Can you tell me about the educational upbringing of your childhood? And when I ask this question, I don't mean just formal education, but maybe also your relationship with learning, and the people who inspired you as you were growing up in your educational journey.
[00:01:51] Roche Janken: I will say that I spent a lot of time in class because I was doing all the academic things, and then I was also finishing up school and heading to dance class. So lots of formal learning. My family is Jewish, so education and putting energy towards learning is a big deal like culturally there, so I would say that it was pretty important. I went to a pretty intense college prep school from 7th to 12th grade with a bunch of crazy stressed out young women, who were all in all the APs and getting all the A's and going to all the Ivy League schools. And in that environment, I was maybe a little bit of a slacker. I didn't really care about grades, I put in the energy towards them when I thought the subject matter was interesting, but otherwise would coast through because I find that I learned things when I care and I don't learn things when I don't care, and that's been true for a long time. That was a little rambly but I'm a rambler.
[00:03:01] Kamrin Klauschie: So how old were you when you started going to dance class?
[00:03:05] Roche Janken: I was five and, maybe even younger, maybe four. And I would go across the street to the rec center and take tap and gymnastics, and basically just danced forever. Like I just have always danced. Dance has always been a part of my life until recently.
[00:03:21] Kamrin Klauschie: I did gymnastics as a young girl and was not that into it. My body was not the dancer body and I remember just like having these big muscular legs and being tall. In retrospect, I look at some of the gymnasts and I'm like, "wait, I had a perfectly fine body," but it was the beginning of a relationship that I think a lot of women have with their bodies, that's "I don't know if my body is correct."
[00:03:51] Roche Janken: I can definitely thank my extremely loving and feminist mom for supporting me in dance, even when it was like that. I don't know any dancers who have the ideal dance body, like there it's so I was too short for ballet, whatever. I just kept on doing ballet because it was something that I got a lot of joy from and she gave me so much support in that. When I wanted to quit dance, when I was like 13, she was like, 'just give it a little more time', and then I danced for many years as a professional. So thanks mom.
[00:04:23] Kamrin Klauschie: Do you consider yourself a kinetic learner then? Or you learn through movement?
[00:04:27] Roche Janken: [I] don't consider myself a kinetic learner actually, which was one of the interesting struggles and challenges of dance. I'm definitely a visual learner. So even now, when I'm trying to learn a new technical concept, if I'm really struggling, I'll click over to the image tab of Google search or look for a video. God, my next career is going to be being a technical illustrator. I have this fantasy that I'm going to partner up with a illustrator and make like amazing illustrations to supplement the long blocks of brick wall text that is technical documentation. This is my dream, because that would be the best way for me to learn.
[00:05:07] Kamrin Klauschie: I've actually had fantasies related to that as well, more along the lines of what I call, and I'm sure some really cool educational institution like Stanford already has a degree like this, but I always call it the Anthropology of Technology. So I think about the family tree of the programming languages and where they originated from and the styles that make them similar, and a visual that allows you to see the the context and where languages and frameworks were born.
[00:05:41] Roche Janken: I was talking to one of my coworkers the other day, who used to be a professional hockey player. And he and I can connect in the "other career" way, which is nice and I was talking to him about the dance your PhD thing, which if you've never seen it, you should just Google 'dance your PhD' because people will basically make choreography for their science, PhD concepts, but like a programming language one. These are my dreams. One day.
[00:06:11] Kamrin Klauschie: I've seen my thesis in one sentence or whatever, like joking ones, those are so entertaining. I'm curious why modern dance too?
[00:06:21] Roche Janken: Basically when I was applying to college, in high school, I was a big fish in a small pond. There weren't a lot of people interested in dance and I was the most interested and the most dedicated, and then I was like, I guess I'll see if I can get into some dance colleges. And I got into a bunch of dance colleges and I was like, "Oh, maybe I'm actually a good dancer and I could do this." I was about 17 or 18 just thinking and doing some soul searching and realized that was the only point in my life when I would be able to explore dance as a career. And so I went to the University of Michigan, which has a program that is definitely a modern dance-focused program. Ballet is for, like at 18, a ballet dancer is like already a professional or not doing it, but modern dance has a little bit longer of a shelf life. So I went to U of M, danced there, got two degrees, and then when I finished and moved to New York and already had some relationships with some modern dance companies and some choreographers that I was excited to see if I could work with. I lived there and danced there and yeah, that's the dealio.
[00:07:32] Kamrin Klauschie: What is the lifestyle of a dancer, like when you're living in New York City doing it professionally? I feel like, at least to someone like me, I didn't have the opportunity to pursue - I did soccer - I didn't get to pursue that professionally. What is it like?
[00:07:49] Roche Janken: It's worth going into Netflix and watching the movie, "Frances Ha" that's like a sad, the sad side of modern dance is very well illustrated in that. For me, I had gigs, so there's not a lot of stability. You have a gig, like a season-long gig with a choreographer, and maybe you work with that same choreographer year after year. But it's for four months or six months because the choreographer only has enough money to pay dancers for four to six months, and then at the end of that process there will be a performance, and the work that you developed together would be shared. Everyone I know and knew at the time would always have another job, so my other job was bookkeeping, so working for small businesses to keep their bills paid, but lots of nannies and people who work as baristas or in restaurants or as cocktail waitresses or in the list of day jobs is very diverse. It would be dance class from 10 to noon, rehearsal from noon to four, work from five to 10, and then back again, the next day. I gigged with some really amazing companies that I was really over the moon to work with , and then at the end of my time there, I had a back injury, a dance-related back injury, so I left New York and moved to the Bay area, healed my back and then did it all over again and did make new relationships and worked with new choreographers.
[00:09:22] Kamrin Klauschie: Wow, so you moved out to the Bay Area and then after your injury got back into professional dance again.
[00:09:28] Roche Janken: The scene here is a little bit less punishing physically, for better and for worse, like it certainly gives dancers a longer lifespan. Sometimes I think the work is less interesting, but maybe that's not, it's less physically virtuosic, which is something that I value in dance. That's it? Less judgmental way to say less. Interesting, I think.
[00:09:53] Kamrin Klauschie: Can you expand on that? I'm like, I don't know very much about it. What do you mean?
[00:09:59] Roche Janken: Some dance companies are very physically intense and you're like a professional figure skater doing the quadruple axle. You're just like doing crazy shit with your body all the time, and other work can be more theatrical or more like textural. Rather than jumping high and spinning many times, you're like, moving in a way that evokes a different kind of feeling. It's hard to describe, what's that line from that movie Playing by Heart, like talking about love is like dancing about architecture. I just want to switch it all around and like talking about dance is like thinking about elephants, I don't even know.
[00:10:41] Kamrin Klauschie: It makes it much more accessible. I'm not sure if I understand, but I don't have to understand. You just have to feel.
[00:10:48] Roche Janken: Yeah, exactly. Just drink wine and turn your brain off, that's what I tell my colleagues when I try to get to dance shows with me and I occasionally succeed.
[00:10:57] Kamrin Klauschie: Shortly after that you left dance and then jumped into, or considered a career in technology. What were the circumstances that caused you to leave dance, and then how did you come to technology next?
[00:11:13] Roche Janken: I left dance for a lot of reasons. It's just so hard to pick one, to start with. It's very under-resourced, and what I mean by that is that there's not any money there, and it's really sad. After years and years to watch all of these brilliant creative people put all of their creative energy into finding money to pay their dancers. I think about these choreographers and these dancers who should just be able to make work and continue to deepen their passion and their expertise. And instead they're like, writing grants. It's just after a while it gets a little dark and sad. The other thing is that I had gotten the advice and I believe this fully, that basically you shouldn't be in the arts if you can do anything else that you like, because it takes so much energy and creativity, and there are so many obstacles to succeeding, whatever your definition of success. When I was ready to leave dance, I was starting to find other parts of my life as interesting or more interesting than dance. I was working as a project manager and I started to get really nerdy about like how groups of people work together, and how to motivate groups of people and different sort of hierarchical and non-hierarchical governance structures for groups. I just went off on this journey and I realized that my interests were starting to open up a little bit, and so I decided that was my moment to move into new things for myself, and then I moved towards technology. The backstory is that I had coded as a kid. My brother who is seven years older than I am is also an engineer in security, and one of the ways that we bonded was he would give me cool code books. Like he gave me red hat, Linux for my 11th birthday. I love that and I wanted to bond with him. I would spend time with it and I realized I liked it and it was fun. I almost actually got a double major in Dance and Computer Science at U of M, but I didn't have enough hours in the day. Bootcamps were in the air in my friend group and I got obsessed with the idea of doing it. And then I did it and here I am.
[00:13:38] Kamrin Klauschie: Can you talk a little bit more about the process you mentioned the expansiveness and finding interests elsewhere. For me in times of transition, sometimes it can feel jarring to leave something behind, especially if you've drawn meaning and identity from it for a long time. Did you feel like you were leaving a thing behind such a key part of you, especially if you've done it since you were four or five? Wow. It's a lot. It's amazing.
[00:14:09] Roche Janken: When it became time for me to be done with dance, I think the hardest thing was that I had co-founded a collective of dancers commissioning work called Veeve, and it was a group of powerful, intelligent, amazing women. The hardest thing for me was to step back from that project, and I wasn't sure when I went to the bootcamp that I was done with dance. I knew that I was gonna take some time and explore other parts of my interest, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure that I wasn't gonna find a part-time job as a coder and do both, but when I realized that I was really loving my work and that I wasn't going to go back to dance and there's definitely some loss there. Part of the reason that I haven't done a lot of dancing, even like in an amateur for funsies way since then is because it is still just really sad. There's something about moving that brings the sadness right to the surface. There's a really amazing radio documentary that I highly recommend to anybody called A Dancer Dies Twice. I think that does a really beautiful job of explaining what that transition can be like because everyone who does dance, knows that it's very likely that they won't do it forever, so there's almost like a sense of mortality for everyone that I knew around dance.
[00:15:39] Kamrin Klauschie: I can empathize with that for sure. Anything that you do with your body or like athletically too. I certainly felt that way with soccer. It's interesting. I remember the first time I met you, one of the coolest things that struck me about you is that for you, there's a lot of connection between programming and dance, and I think that's pretty unique. Most people don't see the connection between the two. Can you describe that connection and how it feels for you?
[00:16:12] Roche Janken: Yeah, I can. When audience members or lay people experience dance, they're usually seeing a dance that's like on a stage or on a movie, or in a music video and they're seeing the finished product, so it tends to look really emotional and expressive and physical. But the process of constructing a dance is in my experience, extremely cerebral and iterative. You are struggling mentally to remember and record choreography across multiple hours or days or weeks. And so it's very for me, and this is not true for everyone. For me, it was a lot of times it was really mental, like I'd be using my brain to remember what my cues were and what the moves were, then you get into the rhythm of it and you've done it enough times that you know how to do it, then there's like a flow state there. That's very much like coding. There's a new pattern, language, framework or a new code base, and, I'm thinking my way into it and then at a certain point, I can just flow and I'm like, "Oh, like I need to add this thing here, and that's the way I want to do that." And it feels like it just rolls. The other big similarity is in a creative process way. It's funny. I think that people frequently think that dance is not very mental and then people think that coding is not very creative. I think that coding is extremely creative because you're basically imagining your way into solving business problems. The problem is there and you're trying to make a solution and you keep on building and tweaking and shaping, and that's so much like dance dance, you have this idea and you want to bring form to it, it's not quite right yet, and you want to change it a little bit and you're like studying it and you're thinking about it critically and making changes. Knowing my creative process from all my years in dance, knowing how not to psych myself out - is huge for me as I'm writing code.
[00:18:22] Kamrin Klauschie: Oh my gosh. It's so beautiful. It makes so much sense now. I wish I would have heard that explanation of programming as a young girl.
[00:18:31] Roche Janken: It's hard to see it when you're actually just looking at it with your eyeballs. You just see a person on a computer and it looks really static, but I think from the inside, it can feel pretty exciting. I mean clearly there are boring days, but mostly it feels pretty exciting.
[00:18:47] Kamrin Klauschie: That was one of the first shocks I had when I first started learning how to program was like, "Oh my gosh, there are so many layers with which this problem can be solved, and as a beginner, I understand kind of the basics of getting something to run, but someone else can take that exact same challenge and have way more complexity than I can imagine as a beginner and come up with so many different ways to solve it. I guess as a beginner, I have seen a little bit of what you're talking about in terms of creativity. And that's one of the things I have excitement about continuing my learning is that sense of creativity. You touched on a little bit, but why did you choose a bootcamp? Why did you choose Dev Bootcamp specifically?
[00:19:37] Roche Janken: I didn't really consider anything other than a bootcamp.
[00:19:43] Kamrin Klauschie: It's a good point. There's not really a lot of options.
[00:19:45] Roche Janken: I don't love school very much at all, and a couple of my roommates at the time were in school, so I was definitely not looking at school with rosy glasses by any means, especially not a four year program or two year program - not happening. It's possible that I would be working in tech if I had just tried to do it myself, just sit there at my computer, but I don't know that it would have been, as I'm gonna say, easy, although it wasn't very easy, it felt like a straight shot. I was like, "I'm doing it," and then I did the bootcamp, and then I got a job and here I am, whereas if I had gone the self-taught route, I might still be doing night classes or blah-dee-blah. I just had a lot of energy for it at the moment and I could afford it from savings, and I just went for it. I chose Dev Bootcamp because I liked that they had some, something, anything about the feelsy stuff, and that's important to me. I hoped that it would mean there was a self-selecting group of people who weren't jerks, which proved to be true, and also didn't really obsess about the choice. I paid for Dev Bootcamp before doing a campus tour. I just did it. I wasn't very strategic about it. It just felt right. As important as it feels to pick the right one, and there are a lot of options, it's also like 10 to 20 to 40 weeks of life - it's not choosing a four year university program.
[00:21:28] Kamrin Klauschie: I've heard a lot of people talk about how it's more about your own investment and how much you put into it is going to be what you get out of it. It definitely seemed like mileage may vary for bootcamps with folks who weren't super passionate about it. What you're saying is totally true about finding a group of people that you can jam with, because it's a short amount of time, but it's an intense day.
[00:21:53] Roche Janken: [00:21:53] I remember thinking, when I get a job, I'm going to be surrounded by assholes. I may as well ease into it and be around nice people while I'm learning to code, which hasn't proved to be the case, BT dubs, I haven't been surrounded by assholes. But I definitely thought that the Silicon Valley stereotype would be more present in my professional life then has turned out. I literally wanted to ease into it by being around nice people.
[00:22:17] Kamrin Klauschie: It's funny that you bring up stereotypes. The stereotype that I have in my head about your job for example, is like maybe you sit in front of a computer all day alone, typing on a computer and it's super different than what you were doing in your previous career dancing. For a lot of people who are maybe considering making the transition, but have these stereotypes and fears in their mind that maybe has even been reinforced in the media, especially lately, is that stereotype of being alone true in your work and how has your day to day changed? Do you find yourself getting up and doing exercises because you want to maintain some of that kinetic energy in your day to day? Or how have you managed that transition from one lifestyle to this new one?
[00:23:09] Roche Janken: I definitely spend more time alone at my job than I do with people. And I spend more time alone at my job than I ever have before, but I like it. I like to be alone and to be in the groove and it's funny because even if I'm not like chit chatting or even dialoguing with another person out loud, I'm chatting with my team on our group chat, or I'm reaching out to somebody for a deeper understanding of the library they wrote that I'm using. It doesn't feel like I'm isolated. It feels like I'm focused and I can reach out and engage socially when I want, and then when I'm in the groove, I can groove. I'm more focused than anyone else I've ever met in my entire life, I could actually sit in front of a computer and write code for 12 hours until I got hungry. I've never been very distractible and it feels really good to me to be in that space, so I think if I wanted more social interaction, I would probably find it, but I feel like I'm that nerd boy who just wants to go all day, which is a good place to be. One thing I do notice though, is that, when I do want social interaction which is, every day, not a total hermit, I find that I am the one reaching out more often. My colleagues, who at this moment, all on my team are fellas, they aren't as reach out-y as I am. So I have to be like, "hey, want to go get lunch?" And I try not to drive myself crazy wondering why does nobody ever ask me to go get lunch? Oh, it's probably because they're just going to eat lunch at their desk with their code. Unless I ask them, maybe they're scared of me or they're not interested or whatever. I'm just like, whatever, i'm just going to ask. If I want to hang out with a person, I'm gonna find a person and hang out with them. Oh, and then you asked about being physical and I just don't. I just ride my bike and sit at my desk all day and occasionally do handstands in the bathroom.
[00:25:14] Kamrin Klauschie: What?! Occasionally do handstands in the bathroom! Getting inverted is a very healthy thing, I've been told.
[00:25:21] Roche Janken: Oh, and then if I'm hitting my head against the wall and it's not time for lunch, then I just lay on the floor.
[00:25:27] Kamrin Klauschie: I'm going to forever imagine you at the Uber office, just inverted in the bathroom. If you wanted, I bet you could get one of those like machines that will hold you by the ankles and flip you upside down. It sounds really bad when I say it like that, but the machine itself is actually cool.
[00:25:44] Roche Janken: I think there's one on the fourth floor.
[00:25:46] Kamrin Klauschie: Of course.
[00:25:47] Roche Janken: I swear I've walked around and seen it somewhere when I'm wandering the labyrinth.
[00:25:52] Kamrin Klauschie: That's hilarious, but you're in the bathroom because better to be in private. I like what you said too about the fact that you don't feel alone because I think the way that especially programming is portrayed in the media is this feeling of aloneness, and my experience has not been that. When I watch folks that are in engineering, it varies culture to culture, but, I think the ones, like you were saying, where the asshole is not rewarded and people are really nice to each other, it's not an alone type thing. I feel like I also just, as an introvert, actually fantasize about that experience of kind of being in a flow state and jamming and getting something done.
[00:26:31] Roche Janken: I have to say it's insanely collaborative. If you wanted to be a lone wolf, you just wouldn't, you couldn't build Uber as a lone Wolf. You need to interact. Everybody is interacting with everybody's code all the time and you want to understand it, and so you're reaching out to the people who built it. I feel like I'm constantly interacting with people around technical issues, which is fun.
[00:27:01] Kamrin Klauschie: I want to take it back to that moment at DBC when I first approached you about the Uber apprenticeship, and you said, no. For good reasons at the time, this was a different era of Uber, and I followed up with you and said, there's nothing to lose here, interview, so let's just try it and see how it goes. And of course, we already know the rest of the story, you're at Uber now. Back at that time, what were you worried about then and then how has that view changed, both about Uber and then also about just like corporate tech companies in general? How has your view changed between then and now?
[00:27:42] Roche Janken: Thank you for pushing me to take the opportunity because I feel like I won the lottery. I actually really love my job and I wouldn't be there if I had been more stubborn and you hadn't been more stubborn than me, I'm so grateful. I should buy you chocolates or something.
[00:28:01] Kamrin Klauschie: I was just like, I think she could do this.
[00:28:07] Roche Janken: I guess at that time the extent of my knowledge about Uber and let's put some like air quotes around knowledge was that "Uber is evil and it's full of jerks", and I don't want to deal with jerks. That was where I was at. As a non-traditional engineer, I didn't have a friend who was an engineer at Uber who I could reach out to and be like, "hey, so what is it like there?" I didn't know anybody who worked at Uber, or any other tech company, which made it hard for me to do my research. I talked to my dad and my brother and my dad was like, "you know what? everybody's evil. Capitalism is evil. You aren't evil by working for an evil company because companies aren't evil, it's capitalism." He reframed the whole thing. Somebody's going to actually pay me money to do work, then they're making money, which means they're evil, so all evil is about the same. My brother, who, as I mentioned earlier, is a security engineer - I guess now he's like a manager. He's not writing code all the time. He basically said to me that this would make my career, like if Uber was on my resume, I would be set. I would be really not wise if I didn't accept the opportunity and give it a shot. I consulted with my committee, and then I got to Uber and my experience has been entirely positive, which is especially weird considering the Uber shitstorm of the last year. My team is amazing, like thoughtful, kind, and respectful. My manager is a great manager, very principled. The security organization that I'm a part of is generous and trying to do the right thing all the time. And I think privacy is really cool, so my experience has been really positive there. I don't want to diminish the terrible things that have happened to other people there because it's all out in the open. I don't think anybody's making anything up. I know that is all real, but one of the things about Uber is that it's very autonomous. It's like one of those things that you do to get things done quickly is you chop the organization up until a little bits and they all kind of act independently, and so I just lucked out that I was inserted into a part of the organization that has really got a good head on his shoulders. But what I didn't realize is that for some people in some places having the opportunity to drive for Uber is like a life-changing situation, because there's steady income and flexibility. Here in my world, there are so many jobs that offer what Uber does, which is like money and flexibility, and my colleagues, especially a couple of my colleagues from India were like, no Roche, you don't get it, where I'm from, if you get a job as an Uber driver, you just changed your whole life. So I'm not going to say that every big corporate tech company has a heart of gold and like any company they're just trying to make money, but there's good work being done, which I appreciate.
[00:31:16] Kamrin Klauschie: Complexity in the narrative gets overlooked a lot at the time. There's nuance there, and so when you landed really successfully, in your apprenticeship with the team that you're on, I just remember thinking this is a story that's not necessarily being told in the media, especially right now, that also matters. It's a really valuable career skill to be able to shift teams, you don't always have the same situation where you land perfectly in the kind of role that you want to be in from the first shot, and so moving between teams can be really helpful, but I think it's also amazing, when you're in the situation that you're in which is no, the team that I work for is awesome. And I love them. that happens too, and it gets lost some of the time that it can be really great.
[00:32:01]Roche Janken: I've been there for almost two years now, which is a long time. Especially among bootcamp grads, the thought is that you get your first job and it is crappy, and then you get your next job and it's a little better and you work your way up to better and better jobs by switching jobs. And so, I'm not making moves, but like, why am I not making moves? Like why do people make moves? I was thinking about existentially. It's good to stay around for some time.
[00:32:26] Kamrin Klauschie: It's very true, especially in my work with apprenticeships. Sticking around matters. You don't get to work on the really meaty problems with as much depth. I worry about the tech industry collectively because so few of us stay working on the same problem for very long. In my experience, folks have a tendency of jumping around. We're not tackling, as an industry, the most difficult and pressing challenges that humanity faces.
[00:32:57] Roche Janken: Channel surfing a little bit.
[00:32:59] Kamrin Klauschie: So jumping back to the apprenticeship specifically. I know and heard stories of the first apprenticeship and it was really hard, especially because the tech stack is super complex and low level, so it's like really challenging across the board for Uber to onboard new engineers, let alone folks from bootcamps for the first time and you guys were growing so fast, and you were one who made it. You'd transitioned onto the team in this really challenging environment. I know I hear a lot from folks that once you've made it, especially in engineering at Uber, it sounds like your brother urged you towards this kind of mentality too, that magically you're going to feel secure and confident and you can do anything. Now that you've gone through this, does it actually feel like you're succeeding and that you've made it? Do you feel like you can do anything? What does it feel like now, looking back?
[00:33:57] Roche Janken: When it comes to having made it, that can mean a lot of things. If I'm just talking about technically, I don't know that anyone ever makes it and that ever feels like a wizard where things are just working all the time. It's very heartening for me to experience the vulnerability of my coworkers and have them come to me for help or see that they're also struggling. I remember in probably my first couple months I was adding something to a Python code base, and I saw an error and I didn't know how to fix it, and so I reached out to my coworker who has been programming since before I was born, actually. And I was like, have you ever seen this error? I don't know what to do. And he was like, no, I've never seen that error. I don't know what to do either. And I was like, Oh, I feel so much better. When it comes to career-wise, cognitively there's a way in which I can understand that I've made it. if I keep on showing up to my job with energy, then I will always have a job. I'm going to say that out loud. Unless shit goes down and there's another big tech bubble burst. I have a lot of job security, which feels really good, but I don't know that I'll ever emotional level feel like I've made it or like I'm secure. I think that has a lot just to do with who I am and being a dancer and being in a field where you're always walking up against the escalator that's going down. The "not making it" feeling is personal and psychological, and then the "made it" feeling is cognitive, if that makes sense.
[00:35:47] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:35:47] You're always on the journey, and you have to settle into the feeling of always learning, and coming up against errors no one has ever seen before - that's the journey of the engineer.
[00:35:58] Roche Janken: A lot of the folks who I work with, when they're on the non-professional side of their journey, they think that when they become professional, that a lot of the emotional and psychological pieces are just going to be so much easier. I'm going to feel confident one day and I'm going to know the answers one day. I don't know how to burst the bubble of this is actually just the process, like it's going to be this way and we can just settle in and get comfortable with not knowing.
[00:36:24] Most of the time, everybody's just heads down, struggling and grappling and figuring things out and debugging, like that's the job.
[00:36:32] Kamrin Klauschie: There is some, I hope, solace for people that, as engineers, we're all going through the same things, or like everyone has this imposter syndrome or constantly trying to figure it out as you go feeling and it's universal. There is a sense of at least we're all in it together.
[00:36:48] Roche Janken: I'm starting to feel more secure in this work now that it's been a couple of years, and one of the things that allows me to do is be more vulnerable and honest about that feeling. I feel like I'm letting myself get a little more messy and emotional, not so much that it's gonna hamper my ability to get my job done, but just being a little more real and it's really rewarding because then I feel like I get that reflected back, which makes the whole experience feel less alone.
[00:37:23] Kamrin Klauschie: What do you wish other companies knew about apprenticeship? Because it was a new thing. What do you wish other companies knew about your journey as a non-traditional engineer and your value, as an apprentice?
[00:37:39] Roche Janken: Contract to hire is a really brilliant way for companies to take risks with non-traditional engineers. If we could do contract to hire for everybody, it would probably be better off, but I know it's a lot. It almost feels like it's better for the company than for the engineer. For an apprenticeship, the company gets to take a small risk of paying out some money, but maybe gets an awesome reward, which is an awesome engineer. Whereas the apprentice is like dropping everything, maybe leaving their job, taking on like a huge risk of all of this instability in their life for the awesome reward of having an awesome job as an engineer. I'm kinda surprised that companies aren't doing it more because it feels a no duh to me. I will never complain about the free food that they feed me, and it makes me really mad when other people do. I'm like, did you really, they just gave you food, they just made you lunch and you like, just stop. I don't know that I'll ever be entitled about how cushy of a job it is. It is hella cushy. My whole life is very stable right now in a way that I really appreciate. From a technical perspective, there have been a few times when I've been in meetings, like a sort of big architectural meetings with my team, with other engineers and I've been able to propose a tactic that other folks weren't thinking about because they just weren't thinking about it. My brain has less tracks because I've been doing it for less long, and so I can think more divergently. I'm trying to preserve my wackiness because it comes in handy when there are big problems to solve, to just think about all of the options go like really broad and exhaustive before going deep, and it's actually something I've learned about the creative process in general is that you can't edit before you create, you have to have a generative moment where you put all your ideas out on the table. If you try to edit at the same time, it kills the creative instinct. So I'm just sticking with wacky ideas, which sometimes are useful and sometimes lead to other useful idea.
[00:39:53] Kamrin Klauschie: That's awesome how you pull in the previous skill set that you developed with dance and your creative energies. Do you have any parting words of advice or wisdom for the non-traditional engineers or maybe the underrepresented engineers who are in the slog of learning to code or even worse in some cases, the slog of the job hunt? What do you have to say for the folks that are out there that are looking up to you as someone who they want to be like?
[00:40:25] Roche Janken: Fake it till you make it baby. It's totally been my motto forever, even if I feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, it gets me into interesting situations and I like when things are interesting. I would also say the whole process, just get really big, life, life is an opportunity for self-examination.
[00:40:47] Kamrin Klauschie: This has been so amazing, Roche. You are always so deep and thoughtful and articulate, and I always love talking with you. Thank you so much.
[00:40:58] Roche Janken: Thanks for having me, so fun for me and come have lunch. Come eat free food at Uber, whenever you're downtown, everyone who's listening to this podcast right now.
[00:41:08] Kamrin Klauschie: People are going to take you up on that, Roche.
[00:41:09] Roche Janken: I am delighted. Come have lunch.
[00:41:12] Kamrin Klauschie: You hear that, people? Go have free lunch at Uber.
[00:41:14] Kate Martin: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the apprenticeship.io podcast. You can learn more about apprenticeships and find us online at www.apprenticeship.io. Don't forget to follow us on Spotify, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:41:32] Want to get a shout out on the podcast or support our work? Become a patron at www.patreon.com/apprenticeshipio.
[00:41:40] Until next time, we're rooting for you.