[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 a Senior Software Engineer at Uber in March 2019. Roche attended Dev Bootcamp in 2015, became an Apprentice Software Engineer and a Software Engineer at Uber in 2016. Roche transitioned into software engineering from a ten-year modern dance career. In her years as a professional modern 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 Great British Bake Off, a competitive game of Scrabble, and gardening in her backyard in Oakland with her dog and her wife. Roche's personal motto in 2021 is "I've got nothing better to do."
[00:01:33] This episode was recorded in February 2021.
[00:01:36] So welcome back to the podcast Roche. It's amazing to have you.
[00:01:40] Roche Janken: So happy to be here.
[00:01:42] Kamrin Klauschie: It has been two years since our last episode and I just, it's been some wild times. There's plenty to talk about I'm sure. What have been some of the big highlights for you over the course of, since we last chatted?
[00:02:00] Roche Janken: Let's see, I got married. I got a second dog. I haven't changed jobs. I got promoted. And hey, and then I spent 11 months in my house. How's that?
[00:02:16] Kamrin Klauschie: Sounds about right. That's amazing. You got married! Congratulations. How is married life?
[00:02:22] Roche Janken: We were dating for nine years before we got married, so about the same as pre-married life.
[00:02:28] Kamrin Klauschie: That makes sense. That's a long dating period, too. How has it been in a pandemic? Has it changed or stayed the same?
[00:02:37] Roche Janken: We're both working from home and we both have jobs that require us to sit down and focus. So for the most part, we separate in the morning and rejoin in the evening. But it's nice to have lunch together or have a laugh, whatever, during the middle of the day. Plus, I really like being with my dogs all the time.
[00:02:58] Kamrin Klauschie: Yeah, I got a dog. Also actually, I have a pandemic puppy. We got her in April of last year, so. How is your new dog? What kind of dog is it?
[00:03:07] Roche Janken: He is a Chihuahua Cocker spaniel mix. He's like probably eight pounds and he loves laps, snacks and he's just such a little weirdo. It's great, so he had my other dog like run around and play and take naps.
[00:03:23] Kamrin Klauschie: This is something about dogs, having two is a definite advantage. They can keep each other company and exhaust each other. There's a lot of advantages.
[00:03:32] Roche Janken: Highly recommend. If you have one dog, you might as well just get two. This is my take on it.
[00:03:37] Kamrin Klauschie: It's only a marginal amount more of dog food also.
[00:03:40] Roche Janken: Especially for a tiny little Chihuahua mutt, he barely eats anything.
[00:03:44] Kamrin Klauschie: That's awesome. Did you adopt him or how did he come into your life?
[00:03:49] Roche Janken: Yes, it's actually a funny story. He's a rescue. I have an old acquaintance who is a dog foster and really was looking for her dream dog. She wanted a circus dog that she could train. She was fostering Louie and trying to figure out if he could be a circus dog and she decided that he was not trainable, which I agree with, and he's looking for a new home and we came in and scooped him up.
[00:04:15] Kamrin Klauschie: Oh my gosh. So you got a circus reject dog. First of all, there's something about that I empathize with. I don't know why. So what was he being trained to do?
[00:04:26] Roche Janken: I don't know how far she got with him, honestly. He does tend to have a bit of a mind of his own. Stuff like don't jump up on the table and eat my food while I'm in the other room. That doesn't really tend to stick with Louie. Maybe she just got the memo that he really has an independent and free spirit. I used to bring him to the office all the time and he is such a little love bug. He would jump up on everybody's lap. I have photographs of him on every single coworker's lap. He's just like a little lap dog. He is smaller than a breadbox.
[00:04:58] Kamrin Klauschie: Oh my gosh. And he can jump on a table?
[00:05:01] Roche Janken: When he finds a chair on the way.
[00:05:03] Kamrin Klauschie: He's acrobatic, but not circus acrobatic.
[00:05:06] Roche Janken: Exactly. Exactly.
[00:05:09] Kamrin Klauschie: Maybe that's his calling. It's being the one that can parkour or something.
[00:05:13] Roche Janken: [00:05:13] Perfect.
[00:05:14] Kamrin Klauschie: I love it. Oh my goodness. And so promo, what does that entail?
[00:05:22] Roche Janken: So this probably happened fairly shortly after you and I spoke last. Uber has a very clearly defined job ladder for software engineers with competencies defined in a matrix across levels and different skill sets. My old manager advocated that I go for promo, and now I'm a Senior Software Engineer. It feels just like being an L2 Software Engineer. No, I've been at Uber for four and a half years now, a little bit longer. As time goes on, I just feel a little bit more comfortable, a lot more comfortable, and know stuff, I have that sort of institutional knowledge. I'm able to support coworkers, help them find their way a little bit more on like the mentorship side, the leadership side as time goes on.
[00:06:15] Kamrin Klauschie: It's beautiful, and you've stayed on this privacy engineering team with the same manager or have you been shifted around in those years that you've been at Uber?
[00:06:26] Roche Janken: Yeah. I've been on the same team. The manager has shifted several times. So you knew Denali, the sort of first proponent of the apprenticeship program. She was my first manager at Uber and I think now I'm onto my sixth manager on the same team. There's been a fair amount of change and transition. I guess at this point, I am the person who has been on the team the longest, closely followed by my coworkers, Zach, who's technically on the product side.
[00:06:58] Kamrin Klauschie: That's amazing. So the shift from being the junior one on the team to being the senior one - how has your perspective changed? The way that you relate on the team, has it shifted?
[00:07:09] Roche Janken: Yeah, it definitely has. I think I am starting to really see the long term vision a little bit more. I would say before I was very much like focused on how to execute a particular project. I'm starting to see the gaps now and think about how to structure a team or a software solution to fill these larger gaps.
[00:07:38] I've also like super nerd-ed out on privacy. I actually went and got a CIPP certification and read about privacy. I kinda became a privacy nerd, and that helps to expand my vision and think a little bit more holistically about what we can do as a team. That's been an interesting shift pretty recently, and I have a couple of colleagues who really excel in that area, so I've been inspired by them for sure.
[00:08:03] Kamrin Klauschie: Interesting. So what is the, for those of us who aren't in privacy, what is CIPP certification? What is that?
[00:08:10] Roche Janken: It's a Certified Information Privacy Professional, and it's a certification given by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. It's mostly a certification that like lawyer-y type people will get but Uber was offering Uber employees an opportunity to take the class and take the test. I just kinda was like, why not? Unless you're really into privacy, I wouldn't recommend it. It was very legally focused, and I definitely fell asleep with my face on the book. Many nights ended up getting like a really great flashcard app, which kind of got me across the finish line. But I think even if you know the details about which States in the United States allow employers to have video footage of employees or whatever, like the detailed privacy laws are? It just gave me a broader overview of what the landscape and privacy is like. And then of course, within Uber, we're basically wrangling a huge engineering org into some of these privacy controls and solutions.
[00:09:11] Kamrin Klauschie: That's a very interesting intersection between tech policy and tech implementation.
[00:09:18] Roche Janken: Definitely. That's one of the things about it that's really fun for me is I work with wonderful engineers all the time. I work with wonderful lawyers all the time, or program managers who aren't lawyers, but lawyer friends, and then other engineers on other teams who have these features that use private data or don't use private data. It feels like it flexes some of my non-engineer muscles, which of course I like.
[00:09:43] Kamrin Klauschie: That sounds really philosophically, ethically interesting as well. What is the best solution or what are the trade offs that we might have to make balancing between ideal and the possible.
[00:09:57] Roche Janken: Yeah, it's really tricky. I think most of the users of the internet are so accustomed to the convenience that they get from having their personal data be used pretty heavily by companies. Like when you open Instagram, if you see ads that have nothing to do with you. Like WTF, right? What the hell? Whereas, when they understand who you are by, tracking you across the internet, which is so creepy, then you get these customized ads and maybe you feel a little bit more sane, which is weird. It's all pretty tricky.
[00:10:33] Kamrin Klauschie: Yeah. I would identify as a millennial who is kind of just throwing my hands in the air. Is there anything I can possibly do to make this situation better? I don't know. Is the jury out on whether or not they're listening to us? Because I feel like they're listening. There's times where I'll say something verbally and then the ads will show up the same day. What do you think people need to know about privacy that you see missing?
[00:11:03] Roche Janken: Yeah, that's a great question. Even though I work in privacy, I would say that my attitude towards my personal privacy is probably quite similar to yours. I think a lot more about how Uber can be a good steward of the data that Uber needs to get people where they're going and less so about my own personal privacy, which is probably because I am not at risk, which is very privileged and fortunate.
[00:11:30] My sense these days is that a lot of the sort of protection in the privacy space will not come from users. It will come from governments enforcing regulations and requiring that platforms and companies actually follow through on their word or follow whatever sort of regulations are out there. Some nice big GDPR fines or CCPA fines or FTC audits and consent decrees, I think more of that will be a better protection than like Kam deleting her Facebook and all of her Facebook data, for example. Does that make sense?
[00:12:05] Kamrin Klauschie: Absolutely. Which by the way, I did that in the time since we last chatted. Got off of Facebook, deleted the data, don't know if it actually is deleted, but some of those hearings that happened since we last chatted, those were wild. I worry a lot for the kids who, their whole history, their entire lives are on the internet, but for me it was like, okay, I deleted my MySpace. I deleted my college Facebook, and then I deleted my post-college Facebook, and now I just am trying to figure out, I think, how to make the internet a better place.
[00:12:41] That's something I spend a lot of time thinking about these days and what you just said about needing to be engaged with policy and with governance. I feel like, especially because of the election and what's happened in the United States, it seems so top of mind at least for me. Do you see your work heading that direction, or how do you see yourself contributing? In light of all of the recent events, has the way you show up changed in light of the pandemic?
[00:13:09] Roche Janken: Jury's out, jury is totally out on that one. I I feel like I'm at a place where I have all questions and no answers. I, for example, the whole Parlor situation is so tricky, right? You have a social media platform. It's basically based on libertarian ideals and privacy protection that gets heavily used by extremists and then gets taken down off the internet. All that doesn't seem like a great story in any way, none of that is great. Nobody did the right thing there.
[00:13:43] But I don't quite have my head wrapped around a better way yet, although I do think that platforms should be held responsible. I don't think that we can find all the individuals. I just don't think we can. I don't think we can find every human who's like uploading a shitty video on Facebook or YouTube or whatever. I just don't think that will scale.
[00:14:06] So I do think that the platforms will have to exercise some control, but then who decides what that is? And it gets really tricky. I have no answers.
[00:14:15] Kamrin Klauschie: Did you watch the documentary Social Dilemma that came out?
[00:14:19] Roche Janken: I have not, I've heard so many good things about it, but I only watch Great British Bake Off.
[00:14:24] Kamrin Klauschie: It's worth watching for sure. But one of the metaphors or comparisons I've seen lately, especially during the pandemic, has been this idea that when cities were first built, we had all of these issues of, how does plumbing work? How does waste management work? Both for excrement and also for garbage. And for the idea that there are firefighters that the public pays for because it's in everyone's best interest to have someone who can go from saving your cat in the tree to helping put out a massive fire. These are all things that the public has contributed to building over time, and right now, we're grappling with that process on the internet. Last time I checked, I think it was like a third of the world participating in this grand experiment of being connected. Maybe it's more now, is it more like two thirds of the world's population are on the internet? Anyway, a lot of people and like, how do we govern? How do we have public services? How do we firefight and make sure that it's a safe place for people? It's super interesting work.
[00:15:35] So you and I chatted last time about the fact that your brother is also in this work. So how do you and your brother still help each other along? What's that relationship like now that you're deeper into your career in privacy engineering?
[00:15:52] Roche Janken: Yeah. He has definitely been there for me when I need advice more from a career perspective, maybe once or twice in the last five years, I've hit him up with a technical question more. So when I'm trying to kinda navigate a sort of career direction moment, I will call for his perspective. He's very opinionated, which is what it is. He has strong opinions. So I can always trust him to have an opinion about whatever I'm asking, regardless of whether it's a good one.
[00:16:28] Kamrin Klauschie: That's awesome. That sounds like what I would expect from a sibling relationship.
[00:16:33] Roche Janken: He's a good guy. Maybe a year ago, my manager inquired, if I was ready to move towards management. And at the time I was curious about it, but I was pretty sure that I didn't want to and that's when I gave my brother a call and we can talk it all out. It's really helpful.
[00:16:49] Kamrin Klauschie: I was going to ask you about that, cause I know that's the thing that tends to happen as you start to advance is like management versus technical track. So I was curious to catch up with you on that as well. What's your philosophy about it or maybe do you have a philosophy about it? How are you thinking about your career now?
[00:17:08] Roche Janken: Yeah, it's actually been interesting, and I would say maybe a little bit of an inflection point for me recently. So at Uber, every six months we do a performance review cycle and a promotion cycle. So people will give reviews to all their colleagues and some people will get nominated for promotion and you'll be writing in favor of somebody's promotion. And so I'm writing my own performance review and self evaluation and just looking at what I've spent the last year doing. And I notice that more and more of my time is in the sort of buckets of mentorship, citizenship, leadership, trying to move some D&I initiatives forward. Some of the higher level of planning for my particular subset of privacy at Uber. I was thinking about what feels important to me and what I've been feeling called to do recently. I thought, oh, maybe I should start to think about management. Up until recently I was more like, oh, coding is so peaceful. It's so wonderful. It's just me and my computer and the code and the unit tests. And yet, I feel like if I want to make tech a better place in a significant way, the way to do that is by moving in the direction of the manager. There's a limited impact I can have as an individual contributor. I'm talking with my manager about it. We're coming up with a plan. In progress.
[00:18:37] Kamrin Klauschie: Absolutely. I love it. It's totally not something that is ever, I think fully clear, like it's always part of the journey that you're figuring it out. So that's awesome that you're seeing where it goes and feeling it out day by day.
[00:18:53] Roche Janken: There was a tech talk at Uber where a Staff Software Engineer was talking Staff - meaning fanciest of all the software engineers - was talking about their journey and they said that they had thought about management and their manager had given them this concept of the toothbrush test, which I thought was really interesting where you're brushing your teeth, what are you thinking about while you're brushing your teeth? Are you thinking about engineering problems? Are you thinking about people problems? That can be a way to understand where your heart is. I just thought it was neat.
[00:19:22] Kamrin Klauschie: I like that. That's very interesting. I feel like that's something that can shift depending on where you're at in life. Taking stock of where your mind goes, when it wanders as a way of getting in touch with yourself. That's very beautiful... do you want to talk about current events, like the election and the insurrection and all of those things?
[00:19:47] Roche Janken: I don't have a lot of interesting things to say about current events, but I do have an interest in talking about diversity in tech and what's going on in this country when it comes to racial justice.
[00:20:04] Kamrin Klauschie: Yes. The summer was a very difficult thing to watch from afar being quarantined in Brazil, and I can only imagine what it was like within cities, where there were protests happening very regularly. It also seemed as though the media just quit covering what was happening, which makes me sad. My observation from the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement is these problems have shown themselves so clearly and I feel a struggle for how to make lasting change. I think some of the movements towards abolishing the police and defunding the police were on point, and then we also had comments from, most notably for me, when Barack Obama said more or less, this will never happen. That was the moment for me, where I was just like, how do we hold people accountable? I think that's January 2021, the theme is accountability. Curious for you, what did you witness maybe is a good place to start? You're based in Oakland. So curious, what you experienced and then what do you think we do moving forward? How are you thinking about things?
[00:21:27] Roche Janken: The answer to your first question, what did I experience is like, in-person not much. My partner and I are like very not going out of our house right now. We definitely were discussing, do we go to some of these protests or not? Neither of us were comfortable with taking that sort of health risk, which of course I had mixed feelings about, but that's where we ended up and that's where we are. I don't have a strong vision for where we go from here and I don't necessarily know that I am the person who would have that vision. I have been participating in a working group within Uber to advance racial equity. There's actually, as you would hope, been like a ton of energy in that direction. There's like an engineering effort, there's a product effort, there's a safety and security effort, a lot of efforts that I'm not even naming. A lot of smart people, passionate people trying to move the needle.
[00:22:30] If I could wave a magic wand, I would just get 5x the number of full-time paid staff to work on D&I. We have some amazing D&I folks at Uber. I know their team was affected by the layoffs last spring as were many teams. But now that we're coming around the corner, the folks I know on the D&I team are just superhuman, doing more work than can reasonably be done. I hope that Uber invests more when it comes to paid staff doing this work because volunteer efforts, like the one that I'm involved in, have the benefit of having some subject matter experts. I'm working with other people in the trust and safety org. We have a lot of really interesting perspectives. People from the US, people from abroad, people like me who are total lefties, ex-law enforcement, ex-military. We're like all sitting down at the table, thinking about how to protect black lives and make trust and security, a better place for people of color to be, but I think that you just need some people who, it's their whole job. So that's my take.
[00:23:39] Kamrin Klauschie: This is something I've been thinking about a lot related to the idea of our systemic failures, and why do we have this history, especially in the United States, of treating systemic failures as charity cases, as opposed to the very challenging, complex issues that they are. Especially related to apprenticeships, the more that I've been in this work, the more that I realized it's a long game. There's a lot of accountability that needs to happen on the governance side, and then also with employers in order for there to be an actual apprenticeship system in the United States. I just find myself banging my head against the wall. I recently am in the process of incorporating apprenticeship.io as a nonprofit. I just have all these feelings about it because I'm like, yeah, like I think it has to be that way because I've tried so many other angles to get this work moving forward, and at the same time, I'm still just similar to you, this needs to just be resourced. Just put our money towards this. Otherwise we continue to grapple with issues like the student loan crisis and underemployment and unemployment and terrible college completion rates and people dropping out in droves from college. Like for me, that's such a real issue that I am thinking about all the time and in this work.
[00:25:07] Roche Janken: And a huge part of why diversity in tech is challenging is because of sourcing and hiring. In my opinion, there's few underrepresented minorities at Uber compared to the population of the cities that we serve. It's just so disheartening to see the numbers stay pretty static. My team does this team interview for incoming managers, so if we are hiring a manager for my team, there's a panel of engineers who does a small team interview for this manager. One of our questions is tell me about a time you managed a diverse team? I would say the majority of the experienced managers, who we have asked that question, they just don't have an answer because they've never managed a diverse team and that, first of all, is like mind blowing. Second of all, like I think about, can that be a deal breaker? My team at Uber is pretty diverse. I think compared with many teams I've seen in tech. And I think not everyone is good at managing a diverse team, but if somebody hasn't done it before, how do you know if they can? You wouldn't hire a manager who had never managed, why would you hire a manager who'd never managed a diverse team? Because they've never had the opportunity. It's so tricky. I found it very surprising when we started asking that question and seeing that people just didn't have an answer.
[00:26:33] Yeah. I feel like we're grappling with it at a society level, too. Just realizing that we're quite polarized in the United States and not functioning in a way that's interconnected. We're doing this like massive multicultural experiment, but haven't quite caught up to having people's lived experience feel as multicultural as our aspirations. It's this idealism that is built into the United States in general, and how it impacts the tech industry and how we solve it is very interesting. How do you see yourself or how do you see your work going forward? Like how would you want to address it? Apprenticeship being obviously, one of the things that I think we're both fans of, but is there anything in light of the problems you just showed us? Like, how are you thinking it can be solved?
[00:27:38] My creativity extends to what I can do within Uber at this point in my life. So like you said, apprenticeship program’s one thing that Uber is implementing. An apprenticeship program that is strong is a positive thing.
[00:27:54] Kamrin Klauschie: In the meantime, we can acknowledge that there are a lot of folks like us getting in through the back door, the side door, or coming back to their love of technology after maybe a career in something else because nobody ever encouraged them, or supported them, and sitting behind a computer coding all day didn't fit with the stereotypes of what we see media. I think showing up the way that you're showing up at now as a senior engineer, no less. It's so exciting.
[00:28:25] Roche Janken: Thanks. Trying to just make it a little bit better.
[00:28:30] Kamrin Klauschie: We have a really funny bit in the last episode where you were talking about inverting yourself in the office. To me, it's like classic Silicon Valley. When you take breaks, you dance in the bathroom. So I guess, what are you doing now in your home office? That's been one of the really challenging aspects of pandemic. Personally, I find myself sitting behind the computer only drinking coffee, not feeding myself. Habits are a real struggle during quarantine. How have you adjusted your habits and how do you take breaks?
[00:29:04] Roche Janken: I am fairly fortunate in this regard, I'm a very habit driven person. I have a daily rhythm that I fall into pretty regularly. I get up at 6:45am. I am at my computer at 8am. I sign off at 4pm and go outside. That's my deal. In the morning, I try to not have meetings and have coding time. In the afternoons, I have meetings with colleagues, like one-on-ones or project check-ins. My partner, I would say, she peer pressured me before we got married to purchase a treadmill, which she really wanted to have her wedding body and I was like, "Oh God, am I going to have a giant piece of exercise equipment in my house?" Well, now I'm glad because I have made myself a little walking desk, so while I'm doing my coding in the morning, strolling on my treadmill, listening to some music. And then, like I said, I try to sign off at 4pm. You've got to get the sun before the sun goes down and it gets cold. It's the Bay area. As soon as the sun goes down, it's freezing. So it feels like there's enough urgency there that it's pretty easy for me to close the lid of my computer and walk away and then sometimes I'll hop back on for a minute in the evening, if a coworker sends me a Slack message. I literally have nothing better to do. That's one of my quarantine quotes. Anything, it's fine. I have nothing better to do. I also tend to have things I like to do other than compute, and that helps.
[00:30:34] Kamrin Klauschie: Absolutely. I feel like the hours spent in front of the screen just went up so much during pandemic for me. Envisioning you, every day, sitting out in the sunshine, like what a beautiful thing to do for yourself.
[00:30:51] Roche Janken: It's mostly like weeding - a lot of weeding, some planting, not as much sitting. But yes, sunshine. Wind. Good smells. Dogs frolicking through the grass, eating tomatoes off the vine, living the Oakland life.
[00:31:07] Kamrin Klauschie: Yes. Yes. I love it. And can I clarify when you close that laptop at 4pm, I struggle with to this day and also something I've recently uncovered is actually a Mac users problem... do you have 80 million tabs open all the time and keep your computer on all the time? Or do you have a habit, this is another simple luxury that I fantasize about, closing the tabs turning off the computer? Do you do that? What do you do?
[00:31:37] Roche Janken: I do not power down my computer. I also have pretty good tab hygiene. There's a Chrome extension, which I think recently had some security issues, but I would still recommend you can do your own investigation and called The Great Suspender that suspends your tabs to help your computer be less overwhelmed by all the open tabs. Closing my computer is as far as I get.
[00:32:02] Kamrin Klauschie: Same. Okay. It's a fantasy I have, but not a reality. I'll check out this Chrome extension though. So when you say suspend, what you're I think meaning is like the computing power, God knows what technical processes are happening to keep the page running. Like it's just, it's keeping the tabs open, but like redirecting the RAM or whatever it might be.
[00:32:26] Roche Janken: Your guess is as good as mine.
[00:32:28] Kamrin Klauschie: Okay. Cause there's another one that I've heard of One Tab. Have you heard of this?
[00:32:33] Roche Janken: I have heard of that. I haven't used it. One of my colleagues recommended it to me actually.
[00:32:38] Kamrin Klauschie: I've used it. It gives me a lot of anxiety because it will close all the tabs at once and I know in my head it's storing all of them and it's keeping track of all of them for me, but the anxiety of watching it close all my tabs at once. It's like that feeling where you accidentally click like the red close button, when you have all the tabs. Horror. Yeah. The other Chrome extension that I downloaded recently that I can highly recommend is the newsfeed killer. It will basically eliminate the infinite scroll. Infinite scroll is not a good thing for the human brain. There are basically Chrome extensions that specifically eliminate the infinite scroll on newsfeeds and just allow you the peace of nothingness.
[00:33:21] Roche Janken: I was experiencing so much anxiety prior to the election that I was like, just, my brain was just mush, and I found myself checking Facebook during work hours, like every 12 seconds, which is not my MO. I installed a Chrome extension that every time I typed in the Facebook URL, it redirected me to a page of random animals, which was really way better. If I open it right now, it's going to show me a jerboa hamster, a mouse, an oryx, a puppy, and a hippopotamus. Way better than Facebook. Cute random animals. It's winning.
[00:34:00] Kamrin Klauschie: Wow. Is it like a grid of all of those animals?
[00:34:03] Roche Janken: Yeah, this Chrome extension will just send you to any website that you say. So what is this Chrome extension? It's called Block Site, and the website that I told that to send me to is randomlists.com/random-animals. Oh, now it has a Civit. See, things I never even knew existed. Thorny devil.
[00:34:23] Kamrin Klauschie: That's amazing. I love it. So the other thing we actually chatted about last time was your desire to illustrate technical documentation. Have you been able to Carpe Diem and start being a illustrator of technical docs?
[00:34:41] Roche Janken: I have not. I'll tell you something though. It made me happy and sad at the same time, I actually had a resurgence of interest in doing this in the winter of last year and actually reached out to a friend of mine who's more in the art world. And I was like, do you know any animators who might be like psyched about a side project? And my friend introduced me to another friend and I reached out to them and they were like, totally couldn't afford it. I was like, I'm so glad that animators make so much money. So I'm going to have to come back to it at some point, when I have a stupid amount of money to just throw at random stuff, because I want to, which would probably be never, or when I find a really amazing animator who decides they want to do this as their side project, or when I decide I want to become an animator and spend more time in front of a computer. There's a lot of options, but the short answer is there has been no progress. Although one of my coworkers did send me a a tech talk that I didn't hate, which I was pretty excited about. Usually I think that they're so boring. But this one was really good. It was entertaining and I was surprised. Let me see if I can find it for you.
[00:36:55]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:36:55] What do you mean stodgy? I have seen and not used, thanks to CS50 at Harvard, C. C is interesting. . I conceptually understand the idea of memory allocation, which I believe is also a thing in Java.
[00:37:11] Roche Janken: Not something that I have had to deal with for the most part.
[00:37:15] Kamrin Klauschie: Excellent.
[00:37:16] Roche Janken: I would describe it as stodgy because it's strongly typed. I don't know what else to say about it. I just feel like anything in Java compared to go, but I also feel like I'm less likely to barf, if that makes sense.
[00:38:06] Roche Janken: For a person who likes to sit down at 8:00 AM and stand up at 4:00 PM, Java is perfect. It just works well for me.
[00:38:14] Kamrin Klauschie: That's awesome. If you were going to reach back and send the message to let's say your Dev Bootcamp self, is there anything you would say to that version of Roche? What are the things you wish you had when you were more junior?
[00:38:31] Roche Janken: I think I would tell my Dev Bootcamp self that I am going to enjoy this even more than I thought I was. Not just like the work itself, but also the people that I meet, I have met. I thought that I was going to enter a new phase of my life, surrounded by people who I didn't connect with on like a social or emotional level, but that has proven not to be the case. I think the stereotype has not been my lived experience, which is great. I've met really wonderful people who I really enjoy. I would make sure that my past self knew that cause I was definitely pretty nervous about that as I was coming into tech. And in terms of tools, I think this is gonna sound maybe a little bit pithy, but stuff like having a lot of keyboard shortcuts that you use in your IDE or your editor that make it easy to develop. I use a tool called Fly Cut, which is like a clipboard where you can store like 40 things, instead of just one. I use it like every single day, a hundred times. It makes it so much easier. I don't know how people code without it. Or having a good window manager. When I'm mentoring people on my team and we're pairing and they're not using tools like this, I, like, am a pain in the butt about it, but about it. You've got to get your tool set up because if you want to have this creative process where you're writing code and you're in the flow, you don't all of a sudden want to have to be dealing with all this cumbersome, copy pasting or trying to figure out where your windows are or where your tabs are. I certainly have colleagues who are even more devoted to this practice than I am, but I think it's worth taking the time to set yourself up.
[00:40:12] Kamrin Klauschie: Spoken like a true Senior Engineer.
[00:40:14] Roche Janken: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:40:17] Kamrin Klauschie: Like you're speaking my worst nightmares. Cause I'm like, I am a hundred percent the person who still doesn't have my keyboard shortcuts for Sublime Text memorized and also have a ton of imposter syndrome around not using VIM or Studio Code yet.
[00:40:36] Roche Janken: It's worth the investment and the time investment.
[00:40:39] Kamrin Klauschie: What I hear you saying is like pay attention to your workflow, pay attention to your habits. Because your habits will become a system and your system over time, it's going to be the thing that gives you a lot of efficiency and potentially makes your life more joyful.
[00:40:59] Roche Janken: Yeah, coding is annoying sometimes. So when you can control things and make them less annoying, ya know take the opportunity.
[00:41:09] Kamrin Klauschie: Absolutely. We can do like a lightning round of just incredibly random things that I can think about.
[00:41:15] Roche Janken: You are the boss. I follow your lead.
[00:41:18] Kamrin Klauschie: Okay. Let's think here. How do you think about your continuing education right now? What does your learning look like now?
[00:41:24] Roche Janken: Yeah. One thing that I have learned about myself is I'm more motivated to learn something when I know it's going to be immediately applicable to the work that I'm doing. So for example, in my team, I'm on privacy. My sub-team is focused on deletion, and we have been working on a project to do data deletion in the data warehouse. And so to do that, we had to learn about Spark. That is how my learning has been focused, is around the edge of what I'm doing for the work that I do for my job. That's kinda just who I am. There's just so much, I feel like there's so much work to do and there's so many different technologies. I don't know that there's really a wrong answer. If you follow where you're moved, I think you'll probably find a lot there.
[00:42:14] Kamrin Klauschie: Amen, and I think what I take away from your story, having seen a part of your journey is like you following this kind of maybe a whisper or like a quiet curiosity that was present for you. As you mentioned, having fear about whether or not it would pay off in the long term and then now seeing you I'm like, 'oh my God, it paid off so much in the long term'. She was like, so passionate and interested in what you're doing for, now what has turned into five years, and you're still at it. I think a lot of folks, myself included, have this fear of if I just follow the thing, that's quiet or if I invest in a curiosity that I have, is that a risk and is it going to pay off? I can say from my own coding journey, since we last chatted, like the only thing I wish is that I did it sooner. Like I wouldn't quit my job and just had done it sooner because even if I don't find myself in a software engineering job right now, or came back from my sabbatical during a pandemic, like not ideal circumstances at all, I don't regret it. Like I don't. I just wish I did it sooner. I just, I want to impart that upon the folks who might be listening, because that's the thing that so many other people struggle with, that seems to be just so beautifully represented in your story and then how you're moving forward.
[00:43:41] Roche Janken: Totally agree. There's so much interest in the world of technology. Regardless of kind of your angle, whether you want to write code or whether, it's more about the product or, you want to work for the government and think about technology policy, there's just so much there. There's so much that's interesting. I wish I had known. Like you said, I'm not going to say, I wish I had done it sooner, but I wish I had really had a sense of how interesting it was when I was younger. Cause there's just so much cool stuff that's happening.
[00:44:13] Kamrin Klauschie: Amen. That's a hundred percent true. I remember doing HTML and CSS on Myspace and I still find myself doing that exact same stuff that I used to do when I was a teenager. I'm still interested in it. Some things stay fascinating throughout our lives. Awesome. Cool. I can't think of a lightning round, although I really want that's creative juices. It's Friday evening. I don't know if I can muster. Let's see. What's your favorite color?
[00:44:42] Roche Janken: Pink.
[00:44:43] Kamrin Klauschie: I love it. I would not have expected that. That's a surprise. I don't know why. I wouldn't think your favorite color is pink.
[00:44:49] Roche Janken: It's like the Aerosmith song. Look it up. Look it up.
[00:44:52] Kamrin Klauschie: Look it up. What is your favorite programming language that you've used so far?
[00:44:56] Probably Java. That's embarrassing.
[00:45:00] People. This is great. I okay. I'm enjoying this. Let's see if I can think of it. I'm doing the worst lightning round ever. This is why you have to plan in advance for lightning rounds having to be fast. I am failing a lightning round. It's just not lightning. It's some days there's no lightning.
[00:45:17] Hey Siri, what are some good lightning round questions?
[00:45:20] What's your favorite board game?
[00:45:21] I like Monopoly and Scrabble. They're fun for me because I always win, but they're not fun for the people that I play it with because I'm not always very nice when I win, so usually I just play dominoes.
[00:45:32] Okay. Noted. You're a fierce competitor. I see. I see. What about favorite video games or your games?
[00:45:41 ]Roche Janken: I don't actually play video games or computer games. Yeah.
[00:45:46] Kamrin Klauschie: Good. I downloaded some of the ones from my teenage years on my computer, cause that's the thing that folks can do when you're in quarantine during a pandemic. So I have Rollercoaster Tycoon and StarCraft. Terrible. Don't do it. People don't do it though. Not having Sims is fantastic. If you could go anywhere in the world right now sands, pandemics, like safely. With your partner, where would you go?
[00:46:16] Roche Janken: We had a whole plan that last year it was going to be our year to travel, which obviously didn't happen. So we have a list and the list is topped with Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco. Those are some of my favorites.
[00:46:31] Kamrin Klauschie: Okay. So I've been to Morocco, highly recommended. Turkey's very high on my list. So what I'm observing there is intersections of cultures. Is that, that...?
[00:46:42] Roche Janken: Precisely? Yes. Completely. Ooh, it's so good.
[00:46:45] Croatia is another one that I feel like intersections of cultures, but yeah, the three you just named Egypt is also super, super high on my list.
[00:46:57] One day, indeed.
[00:47:00] Kamrin Klauschie: Is there a beauty routine or self care routine during quarantine that you really enjoy?
[00:47:11] Roche Janken: I like to watch Tiktok while I brush my teeth, because I think it's entertaining, and then I brush my teeth for longer. So my teeth are cleaner. So it's Tiktok and teeth time every night. I, just sit down for eight, 10, 30 minutes, very clean teeth, wash, talk so much entertaining stuff.
[00:47:31] Kamrin Klauschie: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about Great British Bake Off, which I will admit, I watched a couple of episodes of got some laughs and then did not continue with my obsession. What's some of the things that you think that they have to cook that are the most fun and to watch?
[00:47:49] Roche Janken: Oh man, it's tough, right? Yeah. That's a tough question. I really enjoy the episodes where they make really elaborate sculptural cakes or pastries. Like the last episode I watched, the show-stopper challenge was to make a picnic basket where all the foods were made of other foods, so something that looked like a peach, but was actually like a dinner roll, for example. And I just look at those and I'm like, that is incredible. I also don't like stressful television at all, so great. British bake off, just this just nails. It's like fun. It's there's a little bit of drama. It's creative, but there's like really no stress. And everybody's nice to each other. Like I tried to watch a normal television show the other day and I like actually turned it off. I just couldn't hang so all about the great British bake off. So like never cook anything that they make because my partner doesn't eat wheat or dairy or. Basically any or sugar. So I'm really just like watching and enjoying.
[00:48:55] Kamrin Klauschie: Wow. Yeah, my follow up question was going to be, have you attempted any of this baking? Because I have made numerous mistakes. My family will probably not listen to this, but if they did, they would be like, if Kammy doesn't mention the fact that she's like really ruined a lot of different baking dishes that I've attempted. I'm famous in my family... famous, like within 10 people, it's not famous, but, I made these greasy brownies with my cousins when I was babysitting them once. I put four extra cups. I will never live it down. I have a profound admiration for people who bake because my observation is it's people who are very good at attention to detail and following directions. And these are two of my weaknesses.
[00:49:41] Roche Janken: I do okay. With baking when I do it, which is not very often, my favorite thing to make actually is popovers. Because they're very easy and you can make exactly the right amount for one person to eat when they come right out of the oven, which is good because I can eat them, but my partner can't. You toss like an egg and then a cup of flour and a cup of milk in the blender with some salt. And then you just put it in a muffin tin. Look up a recipe that's super easy. It like tastes so good. Low effort, high reward. Highly recommend popovers.
[00:50:12] Kamrin Klauschie: Wow. That sounds really cool. And it sounds like you have it pretty memorized how to make them.
[00:50:17] Roche Janken: You probably look up the recipe. I'm not so confident on the ratios, but give or take.
[00:50:22] Kamrin Klauschie: Always look up the recipe. I'm the person who's sitting there, 'Oh, baking powder, baking soda, the same thing'. So I'll just switch them around or else I'll add a little bit more baking powder instead of soda.
[00:50:33] Roche Janken: Not quite, not quite.
[00:50:35] Kamrin Klauschie: So now it's been two years. You are a Senior Software Engineer. Are there any inspirational words, final thoughts? Our last episode you graciously invited absolutely everyone to come visit you in the Uber office. Curious how you'd like to close this time? Is everyone invited to your house, Roche?
[00:50:57] Roche Janken: We have a lot of alcohol leftover from our wedding. Plenty of space in the yard for social distancing. Come on by, i'll give you like a bottle of wine and a lawn chair for sure.
[00:51:10] Kamrin Klauschie: What are your inspiring words of wisdom? What's like a mini graduation speech, maybe to the aspiring apprentices, folks who might be affected by the pandemic who might be thinking about retraining, all the folks on their journey?
[00:51:23] Roche Janken: Tech desperately needs you, tech needs you, please come. No, that's not fair because tech also isn't ready for you probably at the same time. Not at the scale, that it should be.
[00:51:34] Kamrin Klauschie: That was exactly what I would have said, and also, very honest.
[00:51:38] Roche Janken: Connect with people who are doing things that are of interest because especially like women and non-binary people connecting with other women and non-binary people. Maybe allow the male allies into the party, whatever. I feel like the connections that I've made with women and non-binary people just continue to be really inspiring to me.
[00:52:02]Kamrin Klauschie: Do that. I love it. Thank you so much, Roche. It's always a pleasure. You always amaze and inspire and I'm just going back to the fact that you have a circus dog, like that was such a delightful surprise.
[00:52:17]Roche Janken: Thank you. You are also incredibly inspiring. Hope that you're going to interview yourself in one of these.
[00:52:24] Kamrin Klauschie: Just record myself answering my own question. That would be fine. That would be very much like pandemic edition. This is what I've become.