As a part of celebrating National Engineers Week, we wanted to take a moment and shine a light on one of the many great engineers we have the privilege of working with every day. I sat down with Jasmine Oliveira to discuss her career as a software engineer, the team evolution over the years, and how she gets to flex her creative muscles in her current role.
Prior to my interview with Jasmine, I spoke briefly to Eli Daniel, our Head of Engineering. I wanted to get a sense of their prior work together and of Jasmine as a team member. It was immediately apparent that her peers highly regard her as both a strong engineer and a great teammate. Our conversation can be best summarized by a quote from Eli who stated simply, “Whether she’s fixing a gnarly bug, herding cats to keep a complicated project on track, or designing a mascot for her team, Jasmine is always great to have around.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
Jasmine: I’m from southern Massachusetts, Fall River. There’s a lot of Portuguese culture there. My grandparents are from the Azores, and they migrated there.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
Jasmine: I’m huge on Kizomba. I do a lot of Kizomba dancing. Pre-COVID, that’s all I would do. I’d fly out for socials and take classes. I also go to the gym, read, play video games. I’m an avid hobbyist.
Any favorite bands or artists that you’re into lately?
Jasmine: Yes, I’m into a lot of things. Giveon and Lauryn Hill come to mind. Joé Dwèt Filé is someone that I listen to a lot.
Tell me about a cause you are passionate about. What’s the cause, and how can others get involved?
Jasmine: A huge thing that I was a part of was SWSG, Strong Women, Strong Girls. Its mission is to foster female leadership and community. They have different levels of mentorship, from grade school to young professionals. When I was in college, I would mentor girls about ten years old, between the 3rd and 5th grade. It was a pivotal time in their life to help build their confidence and give them female role models. The organization also has professionals who mentor college students. I think it’s an amazing organization. I also really support any organization that is trying to encourage underrepresented groups into tech.
To learn more about Strong Women, Strong Girls, and how you can help its mission, visit https://swsg.org.
What drew you to a role in software engineering?
Jasmine: I decided I wanted to be a software engineer freshman year in high school. I was learning Visual Basic at the time. My teacher could see that I enjoyed messing around with the code and pushing myself to learn new things all the time. So, he pulled me aside and said, “You know, this is actually a good career, and there aren’t a lot of women in this field.” And I took that as a challenge. I really want to do this! So, that’s how I ended up starting down my path. And, of course, getting a degree in Computer Science was the next step.
What would you say is your favorite thing about being a software engineer?
Jasmine: Many people don’t realize that, although it’s very technical, there’s a great deal of creativity you need to have to be a good software engineer. You get to exercise many different thoughts. I think of software as a massive sandbox where you have many different tools, and you can build whatever. The idea that you can exercise your creativity like that as a software engineer is not well known or understood.
When did you join Jellyfish, and how did you hear about us?
Jasmine: It will be two years this April that I first joined Jellyfish. I worked with Eli at a previous company, and when I was looking for a new role, he talked to me about Jellyfish. I met the team for lunch (there were only ten people then), and they showed me the product. I really liked everyone, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity. The rest is history.
What team are you a part of here? What’s your role at Jellyfish?
Jasmine: I’m a generalist engineer, so I work across the stack, but I also do the role of what we call a Dev Custodian. This basically means that I’m involved with taking care of the team. I’m fielding requests from different parts of the organization, prioritizing, and general triage. I also try to keep a pulse on projects, product, and customer activity. It’s many things, but making sure balls don’t get dropped is roughly what it means.
What’s been a favorite project you’ve worked on? Or if you don’t have one, what’s been a favorite aspect of the role?
Jasmine: This is a hard one! There are so many that I’ve been involved in. I don’t have a particular project. I do have personal pride in learning technologies I’ve never worked with before. I’ve been able to work closely with people that know more and learn from them.
What’s been some of the most significant changes that you’ve seen in your two years here?
Jasmine: For one, I’ve worked in 3 different places: the original office, our new office and now from home. The biggest change is probably that we now have functions that didn’t even exist when I joined. I was here when we didn’t have sales reps or marketing. Now, we have so many moving parts of Jellyfish that I don’t know what they are doing at a granular level.
What do you miss in particular since we’ve gone remote?
Jasmine: I miss lunch. We’d always eat lunch together at this big table, like a Thanksgiving dinner. We knew it would one day grow too big, but there was tons of banter, jokes, and interesting conversations.
Is there anything that you’ve liked about going remote?
Jasmine: I think I’ve learned to balance my time better. It’s allowed me to change how I schedule my time and how I think about my work. It’s hard sometimes, but I think I’m in a good place by being proactive.
How would you describe the team culture here, generally? If you only had three words to describe the team here at Jellyfish, what would they be?
Jasmine: Foremost, everyone is really fun and silly. They are also super supportive and caring of each other as teammates. Everyone goes out of their way to make sure they’re doing well. Transparent is another one – they’re direct and have good intentions. So, supportive, thoughtful, silly, transparent. (Wait, that’s 4)
What’s your favorite thing about your current team?
Jasmine: They’re hilarious; Every day, I’m cackling on Zoom or at a keyboard. They’re also so willing to experiment with different ways of doing things. They are amazing soundboards as we try to figure out things as we grow. They’re also super supportive. They’re always there to pick something up and work to make sure we’re moving things forward. I feel I can trust all of them. I don’t know if that’s a good way to say it, but I really trust them, and it’s amazing. It’s really great to work with them.
On Thursday, when we do our all-hands meeting, every person says something they’re grateful for. This has been going on forever. In my team meeting, we created as a joke an “airing of grievances.” We open the floor up, and anyone can complain about anything. It can be anything from, “Aww, my dev environment was broken” to “I had to walk in the rain, and I had wet socks, and it was awful!” It’s been essential to have light-hearted fun, especially while everyone is remote.
What’s your favorite work-related story since joining Jellyfish?
Jasmine: I have two. Raising the Series B round of funding was an emotional and uplifting day for many of us here at Jellyfish. I was so excited. After we first received the news, I ended up talking to some people that I started with, and we were all beaming. It felt great.
On a funny note: When we were in the office, there was one point where we ran out of Pop-Tarts. We switched snack vendors and couldn’t order them anymore, so there was a shortage in the kitchen. A few of us started hiding Pop-Tarts around the office like it was buried treasure. Someone hid one in the cold brew keg. I hid mine in the freezer. It was ridiculous and fun. There was a brief period where you could just unexpectedly find a Pop-Tart.
If you are interested in learning more about the available roles on our engineering team, be sure to visit our Careers page. And to all the engineers out there building a better tomorrow, thank you!