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Spotlight 42: Veni Kunche

It’s Spotlight Friday and time for number 42! Let’s meet senior software developer and inspiring woman in tech: Veni Kunche. Thank you Veni for the wonderful interview!

About Veni
I have been in tech for over 10 years now. I love learning new frameworks, programming languages etc. I feel like a Jill of all trades but a master of none. My philosophy is that you don’t have to learn every aspect of a programming language or framework to make use of it. I learn what’s needed to get the job done.

When I can I mentor women who are getting started in tech. One of my mentees, who is going through the Code for Progress fellowship program, just got her first job as a developer last week. I am very excited for her. I also help the Entrepreneurship team at Women Who Code DC.

Name: Veni Kunche
Job: Senior Software Developer
Favorite website, app or gadget: My favorite websites are HackerNews, Paul Graham’s Essays and Tim Ferriss’ Blog
Favorite book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Twitter: @venikunche
Site: www.linkedin.com/in/venikunche and www.codewithveni.com (coming soon)

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
My dad, an engineering graduate who now works in Information Technology, was my inspiration. Due to his influence, I tried out a Computer Science class in High School. I got hooked. I love building and creating new things. Coding became my creative outlet.

What does your working day look like?
My work routine varies day-to-day. I work remotely. I wake up, have breakfast and coffee and settle in my office room. I work part-time for the Wisconsin Internet Mapping (WiM) group at the US Geological Survey. For a small group of twelve people, we do a lot of work on a variety of projects. Since I work part-time, I tend to work on a lot of short-term projects. I am either working on the front-end of an application, debugging an issue, implementing a backend service or migrating a database from an older system to a newer one. Our manager at WiM trusts us to do our job well and gives us complete independence in making tech decisions. If needed, we have a team conference call every Tuesday wherein we either seek help if needed or bounce off ideas with other team members.

I spend the rest of my time on my own business ideas. It is sort of like an independent study. I study up on business principles such as marketing, lead generation, etc. I also explore new technologies that would let me bootstrap and build out an idea quickly.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I have worked on was an application to sketch the drivelines of a semi-truck configuration. It was to help truck manufactures visualize the drivelines of a truck given specific parameters. I knew nothing about trucks when I started. Let alone about their drivelines. It was awesome to have our CEO, who holds a PhD in Physics, sit with me and explain the formulas behind it. It was challenging and fulfilling.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
This one is tough to answer concisely. There are so many people who inspire me. My parents are an inspiration. They both come from a low-income family in India. My dad was one of the first ones in his family to go to college. With many challenges and against all odds they came to the U.S. With no help from anyone, they provided me and my brother with a better life.

In the startup world, Stephanie Lampkin, is an inspiration. We recently had her as a guest at Women Who Code DC for an AMA. She is working on bringing diversity to the tech workforce. In the tech world, Megan Smith is an inspiration. She is the first female CTO of the US. She is an entrepreneur, engineer, and a technology executive. I had a chance to listen to her speak briefly at an event. It was amazing how down to earth she was.

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
The best part about tech for me is that it is always changing. Even though I have been a developer for over 10 years, I am never bored.

 The best part about tech for me is that it is always changing. Even though I have been a developer for over 10 years, I am never bored 

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
Yes, I have a degree in Computer Science (CS). It seems to me that universities don’t quite prepare you for a non-academic job. After I graduated, I had trouble finding a full-time job. I ended up freelancing and interning in order to gain experience. Once I did gain some experience I had no trouble finding a job.

I should mention that even though my university education in CS did not give me practical experience, it did make me tough and resilient. My CS course projects were extremely hard. Even though I had to learn things on my own, the work projects seemed like a piece of cake compared to my course projects.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
My advice to those interested in a career in tech is to learn smart, be patient and embrace change. I see a lot of students going through bootcamps, and a multitude of tutorials and certifications. I think it is great to gain so much knowledge. However, I encourage you to apply that knowledge sooner. Technology is constantly changing. There is no real end to learning. As soon you start learning, you could offer to create a friend’s website, volunteer tech services at a non-profit, work on an open source project or come up with a project that would be useful to you. After all, the reason to learn to code is to create products/solutions and solve problems.

I also advise you to be patient. When you first start coding you will encounter a lot of errors and bugs. It might take a minute or hours to figure out what went wrong. That’s ok. Almost everyone goes through it. Once you do figure it out, you will feel immense pride and satisfaction. As you gain more and more experience debugging will become easier.

Change is part of tech. During your career in tech, you might have to switch industries, learn a new programming language, a new framework or a new library. Know that this is common. Be conscious that you will need to learn and adapt to the changing environment.

Extra question from Erika: could you share a quote from a book you are currently reading?
I just started reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I don’t have a favorite quote from it yet. I will share something from one of my favorite books Quiet by Susan Cain:
“Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”