15 years later — Joining the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio team at GitHub

tl;dr I’m excited to share that

  1. Sunday was my 15th anniversary of starting my first job out of college at Microsoft to work on the Visual Studio team, especially the Visual Studio Extensions
  2. This week I’m joining the Editor Tools team at GitHub, i.e. the team that brings you the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio!
  3. I’m 99% certain that Ka is a wheel for you Dark Tower fans out there :)
The Visual Studio .NET 2002 team
It was raining! My eyes weren’t used to Seattle’s liquid sunshine yet!

Seriously, I can’t express enough how excited I am for this opportunity to get back to working with Visual Studio and Windows users and do whatever I can to help them use Git and GitHub. A big THANK YOU to the Editor Tools team for having me join! As someone who once jumped off a building for her job, you know I have to be pretty excited when words fail me.

long version

15 years ago, I started my first job out of college as a software developer on the Visual Studio team to write the automation framework for the Visual Studio Extensions. The first feature I ever tested was devenv.exe /safemode, which disables any 3rd party extensions in case an extension is causing a crash, especially on launch.

Back then I was quite junior, as in “what’s a stock” junior, as I watched everyone in my orientation class monitor the stock price.

On my first day at Microsoft, I couldn’t figure out how to list the items in a directory in Windows. I asked my officemates, “um, why is ‘ls’ not working?” They replied, “What’s ell-s?” And I said, “you know ‘ls’ to show the list of files in the directory.” And they said, “Eh, you mean, `dir`?” I tried it, and happily cried, “Yep! That’s it!” And in disbelief someone said, “how did you get a job here?!” Kinda freaked out, I muttered, “I was a Visual J++ developer in college.” The entire room exhaled in relief and when back to work.

About a month later, I was tasked to do accessibility testing. I asked, “How do I test a screen reader?” The Product Manager told me, “Turn off your monitor, I guess” unsure himself how to test it. Being new to industry, I took him literally. I worked for 3 months without a monitor, listening to the screen reader read my code to me, “Microsoft Development Environment Left Bracket Design Right Bracket Dash Start Page.” It’s one thing to have nightmares about your code. It’s another thing when you can hear your code in your nightmares.

The first blog post I wrote was on how to Test for Accessibility. I was blogger #300 at the time, only thanks to a manager (who was #200 for Microsoft) who made sure I started blogging.

And the rest is history.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself two things:

  1. It’s called impostor syndrome. Keep asking questions. Anyone who has a problem with you asking questions is the one with the problem.
  2. Hire a personal trainer with the highest credentials you can find and train 2x a week. Not all investments are monetary.
  3. Okay, I’d tell myself a third thing: Buy that freaking Visual Studio cycling jersey. They will never make another one. And you’ll never let it go.

Despite my best efforts, I haven’t gone back in time yet. But I’ve pranked a few gas stations asking what year it is and who is the President. That’ll have to do for now!

Gotta Git Back to the Future!
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