Real Talk with Chardai Page

/dev/color
The Compiler
Published in
7 min readNov 16, 2017

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Meet Chardai Page, Software Engineer at Pandora Media and member of /dev/color.

Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Education: Howard University

A Quote to Live by: “The road to success is always under construction” — Lily Tomlin

Connect with Chardai: on her LinkedIn

Tell us a bit about your early years.

I was that little girl that always loved math to the point that I enrolled into an accelerated math and science program in Middle and High school. I even thought I would grow up to be a math teacher at one point (that clearly didn’t happen, but maybe in the future lol). Ever since, I just loved the idea of making a career out of solving challenging problems everyday.

How did you get started in software?

During my high school career, I attended summer programs geared to teaching students different areas of STEM. These programs were hosted at local colleges in my area. During the last summer, they had the students solve puzzles with hidden messages. I later found out that we were decoding messages as Cryptologists. I was amazed at how fun decoding and encoding messages was and started looking into what I needed to do to become this awesome spy-like Cryptologist. It just got better and better when I found out that I could study computer science, still study my favorite subject math and build programs, apps, and websites by encoding computer spoken languages to do what you want it to. It was then that I studied Systems and Computer Science at Howard University.

What are you focusing most of your time on now?

Lately, I’ve been into learning more about the African diaspora. I learned a lot about my Black roots and what it means to be Black in America throughout college (s/o to Howard), but now I am taking the steps into giving back to Black communities. As a Black woman, I find it very important to support Black businesses, Black writers, and Black artists.

What is the most interesting technical challenge you’ve worked on recently?

My team, the Content Infrastructure team at Pandora, builds internal tools to help curate, analyze, import, and manage content as it moves throughout Pandora. One of the tools we built was an auto-importer to ingest and get content to the various systems faster. I was tasked with creating the UI for this tool to help manage the rules and visually see what content we are letting through with the auto-importer. My main challenge during this project was to figure out how to give the user the ability to search through different tables and still minimizing the time response to return the right results. On a given day, it could be thousands of releases passed through the auto-importer so I needed a way to page through so much data. After testing different approaches, I decided it was best to create endpoints that will query the database and return what’s found. Having direct endpoints with specific search parameters helped lighten the load on the client side as well as minimize the response time to get all of the results.

Please state 2–3 of your current career goals? Why are these important to you?

It’s been a goal of mine to find a therapist, preferably a Black woman, since I moved to the bay. During college, I found that having a therapist really helped with my anxiety and depression. Especially with everything going on the world, it can be mentally exhausting and draining to just be Black in America. I would love to find that outlet to vent and express my thoughts. My next goal is to sharpen my frontend skills. At previous internships and during college, I worked on projects heavily backend focused. It wasn’t until my current position where I took on frontend and full stack projects. I even took the step to sign up for an online HTML, CSS and Javascript course, just haven’t taken the time to actually complete it.

Give an example of a recent time you’ve helped a fellow engineer. What lessons can be taken from their situation?

I have a friend who just changed majors from Communications to Computer Science. She made that bold decision after creating her first website, which ironically was for one of her Communications classes. After seeing me involved in multiple software internships and becoming a Software Engineer in the Bay, she decided to reach out to me for advice on getting in tech. I sent her a bunch of resources, helped teach some fundamentals for her homework, and interview prep. She ended up killing her first technical interview. Even though a lot of people told her that she shouldn’t switch her major and that computer science is hard she still stuck through it. She reached out to me for help, which I believe made a difference in her being in the positions she’s in now. This experience taught me the value of being a mentor to someone else. It was that bit of helpfulness that introduced my friend into the world of computer science. It gives me joy knowing that I helped introduce a new, Black software engineer into the field.

In what areas can /dev/color members reach out to you for help?

Feel free to reach out and ask any questions on…

Tech related:

  • Interviewing for internships or early career Software Engineer positions
  • Java web applications
  • Angular
  • PostgreSQL
  • Managing internal deployments and releases
  • Agile development

Non tech related:

  • Natural hair
  • Makeup
  • Chocolate
  • Relocating to/from the East coast
  • HBCU love
  • Being a cat mom

As a member of /dev/color you are also committed to developing yourself. Can you share some areas you are looking to improve?

One of my goals in the next year is to do a technical talk and just in general to improve my public speaking. I have been getting into personal finance. Since I am new in my career, and to be honest since schools don’t teach personal finance, I am still struggling at learning all of these different financial aspects whether it’s stocks, taxes, saving, or budgeting. Also, I would love help in time management. There’s so many side projects that I would love to start but just can’t find the time to. I would love to chat with someone who has great experience and/or advice on those topics.

Can you speak about any passions outside of programming?

I mentioned earlier in ‘what areas can /dev/color members reach out to you for help’ some of my passions outside of tech but to add to that list, lately I’ve been taking the time out to learn new hobbies. I’ve began reading comics and am currently reading ‘The Walking Dead’ series. I attended my first comic conference this past month and plan to cosplay in the near future. Within the last year, I have taken up knitting and have joined the knitting club at my job. I have crafted a few pieces and look forward to making more. Yoga is a hobby that I take time out to do as well. It eases my mind and body after a long day of programming.

Why is being a part of an organization like /dev/color important to you?

It is truly an amazing feeling to not be an outlier in the room, whether it is because of my gender, race, or religion. Not only I am not an outlier in /dev/color/ but I am welcomed by those which whom I share the similar ideas, race, and goals. This organization provides great support for me, especially since I’m so young into my career. Everyone holds each other accountable and motivated. It’s mean a lot to me, personally, that there is such a high level of Black talent within this organization. It is even more gratifying when I get to meet role models who can pass their knowledge on to me. I have met so many wonderful people because of the many networking events that are always held. /dev/color unites POC and accounts for our thoughts and ideas. I am a much more confident computer scientist because of this organization.

Anything else you’d like to say/express?

If I can do it, you can do it too. Also, feel free to reach out to me on twitter @daiidreamingg.

/dev/color is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower Black software engineers to help one another grow into industry leaders. We create environments where Black software engineers can learn from one another and hold one another accountable for reaching ambitious career goals. To learn more, check out our website and follow our blog & twitter account.

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/dev/color
The Compiler

a non-profit that maximizes the impact of Black software engineers. We’re a network for and by software engineers.