From College Student To Full Time Quality Engineer
Hey there! I’m Bobby Suder, and I’m a Quality Engineer at Appian based out of Virginia.
I joined Appian right out of college in 2018. Like many other students at the time, I was debating what I would do after graduation — continue my education or start working full-time? That’s when I heard from recruiters at Appian, and I’m so glad I did.
In this blog, I want to share my experience with the university recruiting process, the tech culture at Appian, and why this is a great place to start your career.
How Appian caught my eye during my junior year at Penn State University.
I first encountered Appian when I ran into some of the university recruiters during Penn State’s Engineering Career Week as a junior. I was interested in the Quality Engineering Internship position based on the job description I read, but the recruiting team apologetically informed me that they had just filled their last opening for that summer. However, they assured me that they’d reach out next year.
I thought it was going to be the typical spiel you get from recruiters where they say they’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities and then you never hear back. But what surprised me was that they actually did follow through! A semester later, a member of the university recruitment team reached out and told me when Appian would be back on campus, and asked that I stop by the career fair to chat about full-time opportunities.
No other company had followed up like that and proactively reached back out. As I worked my way through the interview stages I realized that while this type of personalization was not something I had experienced with other companies, it was the norm at Appian. Everyone I talked with throughout the recruiting process seemed to genuinely care about who I was as a person, often going out of their way to make me feel welcome — which was touching considering how many hundreds of students they were in contact with at the time.
Making a difficult decision: Appian full-time or grad school.
There’s a lot of uncertainty after college and every student of course gets the common question: so what are you going to do after graduation? I was no different. At the beginning of my senior year, I’d been accepted into an accelerated master’s program to continue my undergraduate research, but I wasn’t 100% sure that’s what I wanted to do.
As I talked to more people on the Appian recruiting team and continued to understand more about the low-code software industry, I realized it was a really interesting space and something I could get excited learning about.
But I was still struggling with the question, what was best for me? Going to grad school and continuing in academia, or getting into the “working world” at Appian and learning on the fly?
I distinctly remember talking to an Appian recruiter on the phone from my apartment balcony about my dilemma. We chatted for nearly 30 minutes one evening. She listened attentively to my reservations and spoke about her own grad school experiences. She also gave an honest insight into her personal growth and career trajectory at Appian, as well as some more details about the culture within Appian’s expanding Engineering team.
(Funny enough, that recruiter was Courtney, and she actually shared some of her thoughts on this topic here a few months after we had our conversation).
It was that kind and genuine conversation that ultimately assured me that joining Appian full-time was the best move for me. So I accepted my offer, and upon graduation I moved to Arlington, Virginia and started my career at Appian in August 2018.
Transitioning from college to an entry-level Quality Engineer career.
Moving to a new city, starting a new job, and shifting from a student schedule to a more structured work day was a lot of change! Luckily, Appian is flexible with work outside of our core hours and trusts employees to get their job done however is best for them.
What made the transition even easier was making so many new friends through the Appian onboarding program, especially getting to know others who were also starting out their careers and new to the city. I was definitely missing the social aspects of college, so being surrounded by a bunch of recent grads that had similar interests to me made a big difference. We got together outside of work, and got involved in various committees and groups at Appian.
From the start, I loved the vibe of the office too. It’s an accessible, fun, and friendly place you want to spend time in.
We have a group that still gets together on Tuesday nights and plays pick-up basketball outside of our HQ.
How the tech culture has helped me grow as a Quality Engineer.
Since I started full-time at Appian, I’ve learned a whole lot more than I ever expected! That’s a testament to the people at Appian, the freedom to experiment, and how we’re growing rapidly as a company.
On the Quality Engineering team, we make sure quality is baked into our product from the feature ideation stage all the way through releases to our customers. I didn’t have a computer science background before coming into this job, but I quickly learned I was surrounded by caring, intelligent people who are always willing to help.
We also have a lot of freedom to explore side projects on the Engineering team. Internal app building is highly encouraged, especially within Quality Engineering, as it gives us a better sense of a customer’s perspective of our software while also improving our departmental processes. Additionally, there are affinity groups you can get involved in and plenty of additional opportunities to work with people across different teams throughout the entire company, not just within engineering.
I work on the intern committee to help build, plan, and hire for our internship program and it’s actually become one of the most fulfilling parts of my work at Appian! I really enjoy interviewing student candidates, revamping the educational materials, and hearing feedback from interns on how we can improve.
Megan Everett, a Quality Engineering intern from last year wrote about her experience on our blog including our designated “Learning Time,” where employees have the opportunity to spend time exploring topics they want to know more about.
I know first hand that the transition to full-time work from college can be difficult, so it’s been rewarding working with students. I hope that through the internship program I can help others have a similar positive first experience working as I did at Appian.
Why Appian is the best place for early careers.
As an entry-level engineer hired right out of college, my voice was always heard and respected. No matter your position or seniority, there’s such a culture of respect here, and that’s something I’ve really appreciated and think is pretty rare.
I believe that I’ve learned more at Appian in my three years here than I could’ve learned in grad school, and I’ve grown so much as a person, engineer, and professional. As we continue to grow not only as an Engineering team, but as a company, now is an exciting time to join.
If you’re interviewing with Appian, my advice is to do your research and keep up with our customer stories we publish online so you can see the impact of our product. Read up on the Appian culture and what you can expect from the interview process.
I know the uncertainty and nerves of starting your first full-time job, and I can tell you Appian is a place where you’ll be supported, learn a ton from smart and innovative people, and be able to really grow holistically. And it’s okay if you don’t know what areas you want to grow in yet. At Appian, you’ll get the freedom to try new things, experiment, and explore while surrounded by people cheering you on.
Check out our current early career and internship opportunities here.