Get to know Bella, a software engineer at GoodNotes! Here’s our chat about her experience as a fresh graduate looking for a job, cross-platform development, soft skills in technical roles, and diversity & inclusion.
Hi Bella! Thank you so much for sharing a bit about what you do at GoodNotes. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
My name is Bella and I’m a software engineer at GoodNotes. I’m part of the team currently working on bringing GoodNotes to cross-platform. After our huge success on iOS, we are finally bringing our product to Android & Windows platforms. I joined GoodNotes as a fresh grad after finishing my master’s degree. While studying I did an internship at JP Morgan and co-founded data cleaning and pre-processing services company.
How did you end up joining GoodNotes?
I was contacted by a GoodNotes’ recruiter during the final semester of my master’s which I was very unhappy in. It was planned in a sense that I was planning to work for a tech company as a software engineer, but I never imagined myself working at GoodNotes, an app I’d been using for 5 years. I was so excited when I got the offer to join them.
Were there any specific skills or traits that helped you when interviewing with GoodNotes?
For technical roles, of course technical skills are important. However, soft skills like communication skills are equally important, as a lot of my daily work involves interacting with our designers and QAs.
What does an average work day look like for you?
Because we are such an international team, I have a lot of meetings in the morning to connect with my co-workers in Asia, UK and Spain. We have daily stand-ups to coordinate between designers, front-end engineers, back-end engineers and QAs, and to review any blockers. Sometimes I have pair programming sessions with other senior engineers, or code walk-through sessions to help me get familiar with the codebase. Every other Friday we have a brownbag session for the engineers to share a certain area of expertise they are working on. Anyone in GoodNotes is welcome to join this session.
What do you think are the most important things anyone considering applying should know about what it’s like to work at GoodNotes?
As one of the first junior engineers at GoodNotes, I received a lot of guidance since day 1 from the senior engineers on the team. The company has a generous education budget to support the professional growth and development of team members. One of my favourite things about GoodNotes is how much they care about work-life balance. I was encouraged by my manager to review my working hours, and to keep a good balance.
Given GoodNotes is your first job since graduating, do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed?
My advice is to be prepared, see it as an opportunity but also find a good balance. Also try to get a good understanding of what support you will have when joining a new company. When I interviewed with GoodNotes, I expressed my concern about being junior and the head of engineering assured me that I would have the full support of the team, which has proven to be true.
When you’re not at GoodNotes coding, what do you do in your free time?
Two of my biggest hobbies are boxing and knitting. In my experience, boxing is a very empowering sport. It not only requires strength and stamina, but also techniques and strategies. I like knitting because I like crafting stuff. It provides room for creativity, and every project is a really fun experience.
How do you think diversity can impact product design and development?
People from different demographic backgrounds (ethnic, gender, social, etc) can bring different understandings and solutions to the same problem. These different perspectives can bring huge advantages of the outcome to product design.
What questions do you think women in tech should be asking in interviews regarding diversity and inclusion?
If possible, if you can talk to a woman who’s at the same position you are interviewing for? How many women are there in the Engineering team? How many women are there in leadership positions? If women are still a minority in these positions, what caused the situation and what are they doing to correct the situation? Is there any programs to support women in tech and women in leadership positions in the company? What is the company culture regarding DEI?
Have you found GoodNotes supportive when it comes to your growth and development as an engineer?
I personally have always found the tech sector supportive. According to my experience, the tech sector is a place that accumulates open-minded people. As a new joiner at GoodNotes and as a newbie in the workforce, everyone especially my teammates from GoodNotes has provided me with support for me to grow professionally. My teammates have been encouraging me to pick up different tech stacks as well.
Who is a woman you admire the most?
My mom grew up in a small village in China with two younger sisters and parents who always wanted a son. Growing up, she didn’t have many resources and she raised me in a small, relatively undeveloped city. Compared to most people in the world, it is fair to say that she has really limited experience and an under-privileged life. But she always managed to provide me with more, find me more opportunities, and to broaden my horizons. She’s also never afraid of trying new things and having new experiences. She’s the woman that taught me to be brave, to have passion, to have hope, to be kind, to love life, and to always fighting for something better. And for that, my mom is the woman that I admire the most.