Where is Talia Holtzman now?
Talia was a participant in the 5th Cohort of ITC’s Coding Bootcamp. Her internship was at Atidot, a successful startup in Tel Aviv, that uses data to best predict insurance coverage for its clients. Talia worked on a front-end project creating data visualization to highlight how Atidot uses data in its algorithms. She is now an Automation & Quality Assurance Engineer at ironSource, where she works directly with a team of developers and tests every piece of code they write before it’s released to the public. She’s also responsible for ensuring their automation system is up and running.
Talia, did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
If someone told me even two years ago that I would be coding every day, I would have laughed and said they were crazy. I studied neuroscience at Brandeis University, and my passion has always been in the sciences. After I graduated, I landed a great job in a genetics lab that had a ton of cutting-edge technology. Unfortunately for me, this meant that my job was mostly putting samples on a machine and watching the technology do my job for me.
Have you ever felt that being a woman in tech affected the way you are perceived or treated?
My team is 60% female, and the last 5 hires my group has made have all been women. While my group is the exception, and there are many teams at ironSource with no women at all, I feel very lucky to be working with so many amazing, brilliant women and to be treated with the same respect and appreciation as anyone else.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The camaraderie. Women in tech have a built-in community, and a mutual understanding of each others’ struggles and successes. On my first day at ironSource I was greeted with a desk calendar that reads “Who run the world? ironGirls.” That small gesture gave me such a great feeling about the company I decided to work for.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
Absolutely, especially in leadership roles. It’s an interesting question. Someone in my extended family left her job as an engineer and is currently getting her doctorate in anthropology. She’s conducting research now for her thesis on why women leave STEM roles more often than men do. Everyone has their own reasons for moving on from tech or choosing not to get into tech in the first place, so there isn’t one clear answer. The best place to start bridging this gap, though, is with children. It is so important to support young girls’ passions; tell them early, and often, that their gender does not determine or limit their success. They can do anything their peers can do, and even if they think differently it doesn’t mean that they think wrongly.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
If a company doesn’t hire you or doesn’t treat you well because of your gender, they’re not a company worth working for. Find a place to work where you’re judged only on your accomplishments. Additionally, especially as someone new to the field, whatever product you’re working on doesn’t matter as much as who you work with and how they can support you and your career goals.
What has been your most career-defining moment that you are proud of?
Through a specific set of circumstances, about 3 months into working at ironSource I became the most senior QA engineer in my group. This meant that I had to establish myself very early on as someone that all the developers and other engineers could trust to help with anything related to QA and automation. I became the point person for our automation system and even helped train some of our new hires. I was also entrusted to be in charge of the entire quality process for a new product that had been in development even before I started at the company. It was extremely validating that even though I’m new to the field, my coworkers respected and trusted me enough to make sure we delivered a high-quality product to our users.
What’s next for you? Where would you love to see yourself in a few years?
I want to make my way back into science at some point. I would love to work for a small biotech or medical device company. In terms of my career trajectory, I’m very happy in my current role. I use a lot of the same skills when writing a QA plan and planning an experiment. Both require a very similar way of thinking, so it’s been a very easy transition for me. I enjoy the coding part of my job more so than manual testing, so my goal is to keep moving forward in that direction in some capacity. The QA Engineer that I replaced is now a developer on our team, so I know that’s always an option. But for now, I’m happy where I am and just taking it one step at a time.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not coding?
When Talia is not doing manual testing, and ensuring ironSource’s automation system is up and running, you might find her skiing in the winter, reading, cooking and sailing when the weather is nice. You can also find her most weeks at a local karaoke bar or pub trivia night.
Check out a short clip on Talia’s ITC internship experience at hi-tech company Atidot.