WWCode Talks Tech #15: Front End Developer and Blockchain: My Journey at Shopify

WWCode Talks Tech #15: Front End Developer and Blockchain: My Journey at Shopify

Written by WWCode HQ

WWCode Talks Tech

Women Who Code Talks Tech 15     |     SpotifyiTunesGoogleYouTubeText
Five years ago, Carolina got rejected from Shopify after graduating from university in Colombia. She never thought she would end up working in that company as a Senior Developer pursuing one of her passions with Blockchain. In this talk, Carolina will share her journey from the past years, hoping that her failures and learnings will help someone else's journey.

Speaker: Carolina Pinzón, Senior Frontend Developer, Shopify

I'm originally from Bogota, Columbia. I have been living in Vancouver for the last four years. I want to share a small fun fact about myself. Every year, I try to choose a new hobby to try for that year. It could be anything. There's no rule about what the hobby could be. I only have one rule related to what I choose, it has to be something that I'll be bad at. To be fair, that leaves a lot of possibilities. I'm not naturally good at a lot of things. It's interesting to do this and it's a way to keep my body and my mind learning new things constantly. I did improve one year. I tried snowboarding also. Currently, I'm trying roller skating. My communities from all these have been great. That's also something that I really like about trying new hobbies and meeting new people, creating new communities.

At Shopify, our mission is to make commerce better for everyone. We do this through software. We provide the platform on which any merchant can build their eCommerce site. They can create their eCommerce website to sell their products. New merchants or old, we want to make the best version of what the internet can be to merchants. I want to share my journey of how I ended up working on the blockchain team at Shopify and some lessons that I learned. Hopefully, it will be inspiring or interesting.

The beginning of my story goes back to 2017, when I just finished my bachelor degree in computer science. I wanted to live abroad. I wanted to experience different cultures and different countries. I didn't want to stay in Bogota. I wanted to explore a little bit of the world. As a software developer, there are a lot of doors that can be opened. We can work in different parts of the world. I really wanted to come to Canada. I don't know why, to be honest. I didn't know much about Canada. I knew that, sometimes the cities appear on the best places to live lists. I just wanted to try something different. I started the hard process of finding my first job after graduation. I applied to a lot of companies.

Two that I applied to were Axiom Zen and Shopify. These two companies are important in my journey. Axiom Zen was a startup that builds startups. It had two offices: one in Santiago, Chile, and one in Vancouver, Canada. The other one, Shopify, I'm currently working at. When I applied back then, both of these companies rejected me. I didn't get any job offerings here in Canada. I learned that I should not take rejection, especially job rejections, personally. Maybe it was not the right time or the right fit. I learned how to interview. I made my portfolio better. I made my CV more attractive. I learned from these rejections. I learned not to fear failure. I want to highlight a really good TED Talk called "What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection", from Jia Jiang. For 100 days, he intentionally goes out to do things in which he believes he's going to get rejected. At the end, he discovered through these rejections that other possibilities could open that he did not think of before. 

I want to highlight this "Open up possibilities." When I was looking for the first job, instead of just focusing on Canada, I decided to try to open the possibilities and look for other countries. I'm really fortunate to have a double citizenship with Chile. Going to Chile was easier than finding a job in Canada. I decided to try that and find jobs in Chile. I was really fortunate to find a job with a small marketing company. I was able through this job to move to Santiago, Chile. This leads me to the second thing that I want to highlight. It's something that I will call "Thrive on Change." Embrace the unexpected change. Don't have your mind set out on one thing that you want to accomplish, and that's it. Be open to new possibilities. If you see another opportunity, go for it. You never know where it might lead you. 

Originally, I wanted to stay for one year or more. I got an apartment, furniture, and a lease for one year. My plan was to stay for one year, but things changed. I met someone who used to work at Axiom Zen. They told me that they were going to expand their office and offer new opportunities for junior people. I applied for an intern position. I applied a second time to this company that rejected me before. I got a job offer. It was validation that I learned through my process and that I was growing as a person and as a developer. When I was about to join, they told me, "I'm sorry, but we're going to close the Santiago office, but have you thought about moving to Vancouver, Canada, where our headquarter is?" It was a really easy decision to make. I had to end my apartment contract early. I had to sell all the furniture. I also had to leave all the people that I  met. It was about thriving on change and being open to accepting new opportunities. 

Axiom Zen was not a blockchain company at that time. They were trying different products and investing in new technologies. When I joined, they were launching this product called CryptoKitties. It is a blockchain game built on Ethereum where you can collect and breed these NFTs called CryptoKitties. I don't know if some of these words are familiar to you, for me, when I started working at this company and when I moved to this project, they were not. I had no idea what any of these things were. I took one step at a time. It doesn't matter what you're doing or if it's in work or if it's in life, I think it's important to always try to look for new learning opportunities and challenges. That keeps you growing as a person. Through constant learning and this new project, I discovered that blockchain was not hard as I thought it would be. 

Working at blockchain was a learning opportunity and I took it. In 2020, before the pandemic and before the whole world changed, I was still working in Axiom Zen. Shopify announced that they were going to hire and open an office here in Vancouver. Now, Shopify is a fully remote company. Then, we had to go to the office. It was a great opportunity for me to follow. Shopify has a culture that empowers the developers. We trust everyone with their job. Some of our values are, thriving on change, being a constant learner and being really impactful with your work. That's something that always resonated with me. 

When I started at Shopify, a year and a half ago, we didn't have a blockchain team. When the team was created, the opportunity to join felt like another opportunity to continue growing and learning. Something else that I really like about Shopify and it's a huge benefit is that the company is really big. There are teams that are working on many different things. You can change teams and try different areas. You can continue being a constant learner and thriving on change. I took that opportunity and I switched to the blockchain team at Shopify. We want to make a Shopify wallet. This is like a physical wallet. A wallet in blockchain is where you save your assets. That could be your tokens or your currency. It's a place to keep them. We are starting to make token gated commerce. That means that token owners from different communities will have special access to products and experiences. 

A final lesson I want to give you is to add randomness into your life. You never know where it may lead to. It doesn't have to be a huge change. This randomness can be anything. For example, the hobbies that I like to try. If you want to add randomness in your job, Shopify is hiring. We're currently looking for a technical lead developer, but there are many open opportunities for many different levels.