Women in Tech: Meet 3 Quality Engineers at Appian
Welcome to the first of a two part series on Women in Tech. This series will focus on sharing stories from the Appian Women in Engineering Guild where we’ll be highlighting their career journeys, experiences working in Engineering at Appian, and how we’re aiming to create a more inclusive tech industry.
Today, we’re sharing stories of three women on our Quality Engineering team. We asked them how they got started in engineering, what projects at Appian get them excited, and what advice they’d give to women in tech starting out in their careers.
Meet Rachel, Danielle, and Sarah
Rachel Bittner: I’ve been at Appian for almost 2 years and I love the engineering community which is really focused on learning and growing together.
Danielle Riggin: Being a Quality Engineer allows me to continuously learn new things and improve my skills! I love that I get to learn about many different aspects of our product from the functional requirements to performance. This year will be my 5th year here as an Engineer at Appian!
Sarah Miller: I’ve been a Quality Engineer for about 2.5 years and I love the variety - I’m always working with something new or different.
What led you to pursue a career in engineering?
Rachel: I’ve always liked problem solving and seeing the impact and results from finding the right solution. I majored in math, but I find that engineering bridges the theoretical and is a way to put what you learn into practice.
Danielle: I got exposed to software engineering through my research in a high-energy physics lab! I had no coding experience at the time, so I took an intro computer science course to learn skills that would help me in that lab. I ended up loving that course and the engineering aspects of my research, which made me want to pursue a career in the tech industry.
Sarah: My college major wasn’t engineering and I’d never heard of quality engineering until I found Appian at a career fair. During my internship I knew that I wanted to come back full-time and continue being a Quality Engineer (QE).
What’s something specific in your role at Appian that you love doing?
Danielle: With the way teams are structured at Appian, I get to work with every engineer on my team daily. That means that even in this remote world, I still get to connect and collaborate with my teammates as we discuss the best way to test our features. Everyone on my team owns and is responsible for quality, and it's comforting knowing my teammates have my back when it comes to shipping high quality features.
Sarah: I love when I’m able to help others and be a resource for them. People often go to Quality Engineers (QEs) with questions about all sorts of things — whether it’s a feature I worked on in the past, a test case I wrote, an app I made, or even something completely unrelated. I like being able to answer those questions, point people in the right direction, and offer help wherever needed.
Can you walk us through your favorite project you’ve worked on here at Appian?
Rachel: I enjoy app building and I am part of several app building groups. I like seeing how the solution I’ve helped build comes together into a functional and user friendly application.
Danielle: Right in the beginning of the pandemic, Appian started developing a Workforce Safety application. This application is intended to help companies return to work safely with features such as employee check-ins and processes to manage workplace facilities. I was brought in to be part of the testing team for the first iteration of this application. I enjoyed working on this project because I could see the impact that it was going to have not only for our customers but also for us internally as we worked on our own COVID-19 response.
Sarah: Last year I did a short rotation on the Application Security Engineering Squad to learn about security testing for robotic process automation (RPA). I wasn’t familiar with RPA yet, and it was still fairly new to Appian, so the testing was very open-ended and exploratory. The AppSec team showed me how to use the penetration test tool Burp Suite to intercept and manipulate browser requests. With this, I was able to uncover several different security vulnerabilities in RPA including cross-site scripting. I enjoyed trying out all these new things at the same time and learning through hands-on experience.
What stands out about being an Engineer at Appian?
Rachel: Appian Engineering encourages everyone to ask questions and offer opinions. Incorporating feedback, improving processes, and learning from each other enriches our culture and helps us make a better product.
Danielle: The community. Even as we grow, we have a dedicated "Community Committee" — a group that organizes events for engineers to come together and try new activities, which helps the department still feel small and tight-knit.
There's also a lot of opportunities for you to work on passion projects outside of your day to day work on your team. For me, that has meant things such as co-leading our Women in Engineering Guild and building an app in Appian for our employee recognition process. For others, it can mean working on graphic design work or working on a part of the product that they are interested in. As an employee here, you're really encouraged to work on projects that interest you and follow your passions.
What are the unique challenges to being a woman in tech, and specifically engineering?
Rachel: There are stereotypes for many different industries and the one that dominates technology is the lack of diversity. Visibility and inspiration is important. Women making contributions in STEM fields is not new. What is new is increased recognition. I know I was inspired when I read or heard about women working in engineering, technology, and other highly technical fields. I believe that increasing that type of visibility will inspire more women.
Sarah: You may find yourself in many spaces — classroom after classroom, meeting after meeting — as the only woman in the room. You may look to your professors, mentors and managers, department or company leadership, and see that there are so few women represented. It can be challenging to get used to, especially if others around you don’t recognize the importance of representation. Just because this is the “norm” doesn’t mean it should have to be.
What advice would you give to women in engineering starting out in their career?
Rachel: I live by the words “I don’t understand that, yet!” It can be intimidating to dive into any field when first setting out. However, just because you don’t understand something now, doesn’t mean you will never understand it.
Sarah: It’s okay if you don’t know something that everybody else knows, or if you don’t understand something right away. At some point, those people didn’t know it or understand it either. You’re allowed to take the time you need and learn at your own pace.
Danielle: Look for things in your career that energize you and promote your wellbeing. For me, our Women in Engineering Guild has been one of those things. I have enjoyed getting the chance to meet, learn from, and mentor other women in the department and it brings a lot of purpose and meaning to my everyday job. Find that thing that makes you happy in your career and pursue it!
Apply to join our team
At Appian, we recognize that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a journey that starts with fostering a community of women and allies; focused on connecting, inspiring, and growing successful women at Appian.
If you’re feeling inspired after reading this Q&A, to answer your next question — yes, we are hiring! Head to https://careers.appian.com/ to find your next opportunity.