How did you become a full stack engineer?

I became a full stack engineer after studying computer science in UC Berkeley. At first, I fell in love with backend engineering,  I became more involved in the backend and ui layer as I gradually progressed in learning more about my company's core architecture.  It was a natural progression.

What are your goals?

My goal is to make tech more inclusive, diverse, and equal. Currently, I work at Salesforce B2B Commerce and am very passionate about improving the ecommerce space and developing products that make purchasing online more accessible to everyone.  Women take up 60% of the purchasing power in ecommerce while only <20% are creating products and features that can affect how we buy things online. I think that's a huge discrepancy that I want to help fix.

coder Zara Fernandez on a beach
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Do you have a mentor?

Yes I do! I have both men and women mentors from university at Salesforce, and amazing relationships I've cultivated by attending meet up events.

Do you mentor anyone?

Yes I do! I mentor primarily women of color who are just starting to program and need more coaching to lay out a strong CS foundation. I have tutored and mentored students in university studying their first CS class as well as tutored women who are interning as software developers for the first time at Salesforce.

What's the best and worse advice you have received?

Best advice - Everyone goes through the Pit of Success and everyone goes out of it. The Pit of Success is a moment in time where we are so uncomfortable with what we are learning. We struggle to understand concepts.  It is essential to growing and learning as a software engineer.

Worst advice - I have to change myself to be successful. Someone once told me that I need to stop dressing up, start wearing glasses to look older, and change my high-pitched voice if I ever want to be a leader in software.  NOT TRUE. Be your genuine authentic self and always strive to learn and grow and you will succeed.

UC Berkley alum Zara Fernandez
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What could the tech industry do better to foster female talent?

There are many hurdles as to why female talent is so difficult to sustain and obtain in the tech industry. The first way the tech industry can help is educating women about programming in the early stages, k-12th grade and at the university level. Another point of improvement is ensuring the women are supported wherever they are in their career level. We need to encourage them to grow and develop as engineers by NOT teaching them to change their tactics but cultivate their talents instead. We also need to provide access to child care and flexible hours for women who are considering motherhood.

Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?

I follow many WIT related influencers on Instagram. My favorites are:

@tiffintech - she provides great content in a tiktok video way

@blackgirlswhocode - great non profit that serves to improve black representation in tech

ycombinator - great blogs and content for start-ups

@audreyisabelpe - filipina founder of @witechorg which serves to improve filipina representation in tech.

I read YC accelerator blogs pretty frequently.

What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?

Follow me on Instagram: @zarachiara and send a DM!

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