Meet Azize Ergün, Software Engineer

Azize Ergün

Name: Azize Ergün
Title: Software Engineer
Education: Bachelor in Applied Computer science

Book(s): The perks of being a wallflower, Way to the quran, The molecule of more

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I'm Azize Ergün, the eldest of four daughters and I just turned 24. I've been working as a full-time software engineer at a product company for a year and half. Prior to my current job, I completed an internship.

I went to NY for a study trip and after that, my heart was set on doing my internship there. It was instant love, the people, the vibe and I just loved being there. However, my plans took a turn during the pandemic when the President announced a restriction on visas. As a result, it led me to Milan (Italy) instead.

This was an unique experience for me since it was the first time I was living alone in a foreign culture, and the locals primarily spoke Italian. During my internship, I had the opportunity to work on a mobile application. My main task involved refactoring the existing codebase from Java to Kotlin and implementing new features the client wanted. It was an enjoyable and educational experience, and I gained an abundance of knowledge during my time in Italy.

What is your job and what does a typical day look like for you?

Waking up, and going to the office at 8:30. Since we work hybrid, it's 3 days in the office and 2 days remotely. First, I check my emails, the sprint board, see what’s going on and what's for the program that day. Next, I get in sync by checking messages from other teams and see if there are any pressing issues from clients that need my attention. After that I start working on the issues assigned to me.

At 10am, we have our daily stand-up, where we talk to the whole team about what’s in progress, what’s blocking, or if we need any help. That usually lasts 15 minutes. We’re trying to be efficient. Instead of going in depth of an issue during the stand-up, people will follow up after the meeting with everyone involved and work through it.

We work in bi-weekly sprints.
At the end of a sprint, we have the sprint review meeting and make a demo based on the stories we have implemented and the bugs we fixed. After the demo, we do a retrospective where we focus on the four columns “went well,” “to improve,” “action items”, and "stars” where everyone contributes, and then the person responsible for the release that week (the person changes every other week) pushes everything to the master branch.

Next, we have the sprint planning meeting, where we create the new screen boards with all the new stories and new issues. In addition to the stand-ups, review meetings, and planning, we also have backlog and techlog meetings where we discuss with the product owner the issues that we will take on in the following sprints, so you can ask questions. So there is a lot of interaction between teams, which is great.

Could you tell us more about your experience at this first job and your introduction to work life ?

After my internship, I had many interviews and talked to different companies. It came down to working at a consulting firm or at a product company. I ended up choosing the product company, mainly because I like the idea of being able to see the product I am working on advance over time and being able to say, "I remember building that feature." But what really compelled me to go for the product company was the warm and welcoming feeling I got from the CTO during our first meeting. The company now has about 35 people, and it's divided into different teams.

Initially, I started out in the backend team, where I worked with Java and a bit of Python. At first this was a lot to handle, but a while later they moved me into different roles so I could learn more about the whole process and the product itself.

After six months, it was time for my first performance review, which I was quite nervous about. But when I walked in, my manager immediately asked me: "What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in the future, and how can we help you get there?"
Their willingness to help and support me turned it into a great experience, and I feel lucky to have started my career in such a supportive place.

A few months ago, we made some changes to our company's developer structure. We shifted from having two separate developer teams to a single team, aiming to enhance internal communication and collaboration between backend and frontend developers. Alongside this shift, I was assigned the role of a Scrum Master. The company recognized my aptitude for connecting with people and felt that this role was tailored for me, or as others put it, "custom-made" for me.

I find this new role amazing because I have a deep passion for the technical aspects of my job. I enjoy getting deep into code and problem-solving. Simultaneously, I have a genuine fondness for interacting with people. This role strikes the perfect balance for me since it requires me to engage with people while still allowing me to enjoy the technical side of my work.

What do you do as a scrum master ?

Try to make sure that we do achieve the features that the product owner agreed upon with the client. Maintain a smooth workflow within the team by addressing any issues, and keep team spirits high. In this fast-paced and sometimes stressful industry, I also look out for team members' well-being. We aim to achieve our sprint goals, but not at the expense of our team. I firmly believe that while there's always work to be done, taking care of oneself is paramount.

How about when you’re not working? Any hobbies or interests you’d like to tell us about?

I do try to fill up my weekends and free time during the week to have a good balance between my work and my social life. Obviously, I like to meet with friends, have a conversation, and go out to eat with them. Recently, I picked up archery as a hobby, which I absolutely adore. It's something I've always wanted to try, and I finally decided “What’s holding me back?”.

Other than that, I like trying out new hobbies; for example, I recently bought a whole bracelet-making set (originally, I wanted to make one bracelet, but I found a great deal, so I got this big box and will make my friends a few things). And next month I'm trying out pottery with my sisters. So to balance work, I like to try a lot of new things, see my friends, read books, sometimes paint, but I haven't done that in a while, and also just go outside and look at the moon, stars and clouds. Take pictures of it when possible. It gives me such a peaceful vibe, especially when it rains. I really love it. I also love going out and meeting new people, seeing new places.

Picture of the moon and clouds taken by azize Picture of a cute library azize shared Picture of one of azize's foreign adventures

As a bookworm, what is one book that you would like to recommend ?

The book 'The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity' by Daniel Z. Lieberman has my highest recommendation. This book explores the world of dopamine and offers deep insights into how this neurotransmitter affects our lives and decisions. It offers an in-depth look of various aspects of human behavior, from love to addiction, ultimately leading to a better understanding of people.

What or who got you initially interested in coding and / or pursuing a career in tech?

In high school, I was studying economics, and then before the start of your senior year, you had to choose a specialty; I chose accounting and IT. I was good at accounting, but after some time I realised it wasn’t my cup of tea as there were not a lot of challenges. I loved programming — how you're stuck with a problem and you just have to solve it on your own — and I loved the rush and the problems that were coming with it.

After finishing high school, most people from my class went to study accounting in college, but I was dead set on choosing computer science. It quickly became apparent that there weren't many others around who shared my background and gender.

Which made me think "Well, you know what? I will unlock the door. Even if I don't recognize myself there, the next person will. I have no regrets at all. I absolutely enjoyed it and am glad I went down that road. It goes without saying that it is not the typical career route that an immigrant family is familiar with; that would be law or mostly medical, so it was unusual for my parents. It raised questions such as “really you want to choose that ? isn’t it for men ? Are you sure ?”. My dad was on board after a few questions, affirming “IT is gonna change the world, do it !” but he was afraid at first since there are no women and it's mostly men, but after a while they both got on board with it.

How do you tackle bugs in the product?

Analyzing a bug is the most important thing, as is recreating it. Seeing if you can recreate it is important because sometimes you cannot reproduce it because you need more information. So you need to make sure you have all the information you need. Then step-by-step: first ask: where does it exactly belong in my whole story of my product, i.e., the whole workflow, and then locate exactly the repository and code where I need to work on. I think having a big picture is very important.

If you look back on when you first started out. What advice would you give yourself?

“Don’t doubt yourself so much, everyone is”. Trust your instincts when making decisions, and view challenges as opportunities for growth. Stay open to new experiences.

Do you have any favourite resources or projects you like to follow?

  • Book: Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman
  • Blogs:
  • Java tech talks: Venkat Subramaniam

You gave a great tech talk at one of our previous events, titled “I dont think im cut out for this” about impostor syndrome and the forms it takes. What advice and key information would you like to share on that topic?

You need to recognize it; you need to take a step back and realize that this is not me talking; this is the alter-me who has all those doubts and always thinks about the worst-case scenario, so you need to distance yourself from that inner conversation and try to think rationally.

For example, I didn’t think much about the impostor syndrome presentation and told myself, "Okay, I did it; I said a few lines, and that was it,” but I received good feedback from it. So how people see you and how you see yourself is not the same; their perception is not your perception; you’re 100% harder on yourself than other people. Having a win-page or win-book is really great to see, "Okay, what are my goals and what have I done in my career?" So when there is a bad time, I can remember, "Yes, I gave that tech talk, or yes, I implemented that."

“Don’t doubt yourself so much, everyone is”. Trust your instincts when making decisions, and view challenges as opportunities for growth. Stay open to new experiences.

What got you interested in public speaking ?

It was always a dream to share my passion for IT and I think there are people out there like me, so I try to inspire them by just opening the door and sharing my passion with them. In the hopes of warming them up to the idea that IT is really a fun industry, where there is so much to do and that it's not limited to just one thing, there are so many things to explore.

When it comes to public speaking, I've always seen it as a personal challenge. My mind races like a million miles per hour, and I often find it difficult to articulate my thoughts. However, I've set it as one of my goals.

I hope to delve into the technical side of IT eventually, but I decided to talk about a personal topic. In the beginning of my career, I heard many testimonials from people who felt like they didn't belong in their new roles. I realized that this feeling of not fitting in is quite common, and I believe it's important to talk about it and provide support to those who experience it during their early career phases.

What made you join the women.code(be) community?

Well, it is really important to find your people. The transition from student to full-time employee was difficult for me in the early months of my employment. I had friends who were still in school, and I felt like they didn't get how busy I am working from 9 to 5 and how little time I have for myself. And then I eventually discovered women.code(be). I went to a few meetups, and that really helped to see women talk about their experiences, and hearing other ladies share their stories and simply interacting with like-minded people helped a lot.

How could the tech industry be more inclusive for women and minorities?

I want to applaud the work of organizations like women.code(be), who put women in tech in the spotlight and demonstrate their presence and significance.
While it's true that you may often find only one or two female developers in a team, given the smaller representation of women in the field, a company's employees are the best advocates. Treating all employees equally and creating a supportive work environment serves as the best form of advertisement. When women experience respect and fairness within a company, they will share their positive experiences and encourage others to join.

We hope you enjoyed Azize Ergün's story, feel free to share this article with your network. ❤️

You can find Azize on LinkedIn.

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