Navigating Your Career: Erin Esco, Software Engineer at Wayfair
This article is part of a two-part interview series with Wayfair employees. To learn more about job/internship opportunities at Wayfair, visit their website or come by their table at TechTogether Boston this weekend from March 22nd-24th at Agganis Arena.
Erin Esco, Software Engineer at Wayfair started her studies in Bio-med engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, interested in working on prosthetics one day. As part of her program, she was required to take a computer science course for bio-med engineering. She took the CS class and was surprised to discover how much she enjoyed it, so she ended up taking another computer science class just for fun. Yes, I said it . . . Fun! We love it when we hear that because it’s easy to forget when you are in the middle of a challenging project with your nose to the grindstone. But when you love what you do, tech can be fun!
At that point, Erin was inspired to make a courageous choice and switch her course of studies half-way through the Biomed program to focus on computer science. That in turn, led her to several interesting internship programs including DNA sequencing programming, Amazon robotics, and ultimately an internship at Wayfair and that’s where it clicked. During an on-site career fair, she hit it off with one of the career counselors and landed an offer to return to the team full-time after graduation. This allowed her to pick up where she left off on the Storefront Landing Experience team. She said yes!
Change is good!
One of her proudest achievements has been pitching an idea that ultimately went live. She envisioned a style quiz landing page and partnered with the marketing and social platforms to make it a reality, which she described as an incredibly satisfying experience. When I spoke with Erin it was no surprise that she had this great advice to share about navigating your college years: “Take the biggest variety of courses, because when you graduate you will know about a lot of subdomains of computer science.” She impressed upon me why this was so pivotal by adding that “You might not know exactly what you want to pursue until you expose yourself to it.”
She went on to say that “the most valuable thing she did to set herself up for success was to try different types of internships, leading her to make the unexpected connection at Wayfair where she was able to pursue something she felt truly passionate about.
One of the things she now loves most about working at Wayfair is that they appreciate that “a good idea is a good idea” no matter where it comes from. It doesn’t matter what level you are at in at the organization, or how long you have been there, innovation is recognized. There’s an emphasis placed on collaboration that allows team members to really take pride in the work they do together, and that makes her working life a quality life.
We also spoke about what Erin continues to do to stay inspired and she mentioned that she likes to maintain an awareness of what other teams are working on, again allowing her to keep her interests varied. We ended our conversation with another great takeaway about being proactive when looking for a role model: “Identify and reach out to someone you get along with and whose work you respect and admire”.
It sums up what for me was the overarching theme of Erin’s journey so far — an opportunity often appears in unexpected ways, if you are dedicated to exploration — As women in tech, it’s also an important reminder that we can play that role for each other by offering support and opportunities whenever possible.