All the stuff you’d figure out after working with me for a while, upfront!

Emma Zhou
5 min readSep 7, 2016

About Me

Most of the time at work you’ll find me happy, excited, thinking about something, or actively talking your ear off. Sometimes I’m deep in code land and hard to pull out for conversation. Occasionally I get moody and withdrawn — you can usually tell when this is happening because I stop using emoji in all communication.

My ideal work environment is fast-paced, with a very stable team, but a lot of variety in what I work on. Ten bug fixes in a week sounds like an okay week to me, but three months of working on the same feature, especially alone, would make me very restless. I’m generally happy to work on almost anything engineering-related because I like learning new stuff, but I particularly enjoy product-heavy work on features I can personally relate to.

Much like a Tamagotchi, I thrive under repeated positive reinforcement.

I consistently test ENTP, although I’m pretty sure every ENTP I’ve ever met has been an order of magnitude more outgoing than me. But I do like adventure, puzzles, chaos, and a good prank now and then. And sometimes, upon further reflection, I don’t agree with all of the things that I say.

That time I convinced a bunch of engineers to fill the sales pit with balloons

Known Bugs

Things I am not good at, but working on! 🐞

Real time self awareness

My body’s push notification system is terrible. I often have no clue when I’m hungry, tired, angry, sad, or stressed out. I’ve worked out a clumsy system where I check in with myself every couple hours, but I still miss stuff constantly. If you’re talking to me and I seem visibly upset, it may be worth mentioning to me — I might literally not know.

Cowboy coding

In my first week at my first job out of school, I took down the company website four times. They gave me deploy permissions and nobody told me not to use production as a test environment, presumably because engineers don’t usually need to be told such things. These are the worst instincts I’ve been battling my whole career.

Nowadays, I’m not quite so destructive to codebases, but I still struggle to write specs before implementing. I still forget to write tests sometimes. I still rely too heavily on code review. The worst of this usually comes out when I go on a tear and my stamina outlasts my common sense — one time, not that long ago, I submitted an impossible-to-review PR to delete a thousand lines of CSS at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday. #fixit

I really, really appreciate it when people point out simpler or more scalable ways to do things, and the longer I live with my own codebases, the more I learn to notice them myself.

Jill of all trades

In my nine years as an engineer, I’ve gotten four years of frontend experience, four years of backend experience, and a year of iOS experience. When I meet other senior engineers, they’ve usually gone much deeper than me in at least one area.

I am not very T-shaped. I am maybe kind of W-shaped?


Things I am good at, that you can rely on me for 🙌


I’m a quick learner, and I have scattered bits of engineering experience everywhere, so I can usually get up to basic effectiveness very quickly. I’m almost always game to try new things, or take on new projects, especially if there’s a clear gradient to follow.

Speed of execution

I like being on the critical path. I love feeling product momentum. I can be a little spiky in output, but when I get going, I generate code fast. I’m a great person to have around when you just need to ship a thing.

A lot of my favorite projects have been sprints leading up to public launches. I’m also a big fan of passion projects, prototyping, and hack weeks!

Team spirit

The quickest way to my heart is through the problem-solving part of my brain, and I’m deeply comforted by other people working on the same problems as me. I tend to grow attached to my team very quickly. Bad teams can be especially bad for me, but good teams can amplify me many times over, and I’ll always want to return the favor. I want everyone on my team to be happy, and feel included, and have all of the information that I have.

Product judgement

I’m drawn to complicated projects with multiple stakeholders and some amount of uncertainty. I’m pretty good at absorbing other people’s mental models. Two days after we talk, you might find that I’ve built you a spaghetti mess held together by shell scripts and dreams, but I’ll very rarely misunderstand you and build the wrong thing.

Me, all the time


Other things you might want to know 🎏

What do you look for in companies?
Cool product + empathetic people!

Why are you inserting a million console.logs everywhere instead of just using our browser-based debugging tool?
Look, I’m a simple life-form. Sometimes all I want is to load a page and see twenty >>>>>>HERE!s. Because I printed those! I did. Something I did is working.

Do you want to go get boba?