How this Vistar Media software engineer succeeds on an 'inclusive team' - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 14, 2019 7:28 am

How this Vistar Media software engineer succeeds on an ‘inclusive team’

Wei Ting Chang discusses working in a male-dominated field, coding at the adtech software company and learning new skills on the job.
Wei Ting Chang at work at Vistar Media.

Wei Ting Chang at work at Vistar Media.

(Photo by Sam Markowitz)

Wei Ting Chang, a software engineer at Vistar Media, is used to excelling in the male-dominated industry.

She became interested in coding and programming in high school, and while studying at Drexel University, she had few female classmates. But Chang didn’t let that hold her back.

“As long as you are passionate about programming, new technology, coding and you like solving problems, I feel like everybody can join this field,” she said.

Chang’s dedication extends beyond the typical 9-to-5 working hours. The early riser starts her day by hitting the gym before walking to Vistar Media’s Old City office with pop music blaring in her headphones. Chang arrives earlier than most, and grabs a cup of coffee before starting code reviews — a core concept at Vistar where every line of code is peer-reviewed by at least two other software engineers.

Chang is on the media owner acquisition team, where she works heavily with databases and Java, Python and front end technologies. Each morning, Chang’s team meets to discuss the tickets they’re working on.

“After the meeting, if you have any questions, we can ask anyone on the team or any other engineer in Vistar,” she said. “Everybody is always wanting to help if they can.”

Chang spends the rest of the day working on tickets, which often help her learn and develop new skills.

“Every time I pick up a ticket, it’s kind of like a new adventure,” she said.

The free lunches Vistar provides twice a week from different local eateries spice up the work week, but Chang’s favorite part of her job happens every Friday afternoon. The entire Vistar engineering team comes together for a demo, where employees showcase the work they’re proud of from the week and share what they learned.

“I can present to the other engineers the cool things that I’ve worked on,” Chang said. “You will get positive feedback and it’s nice to see how we’ve improved the application.”

Below, Chang shares more with us about working at Vistar Media, which she describes as an intelligent, fast-paced and friendly workplace.

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What are some of the differences between Vistar Media and some of the other companies you’ve worked for?

Vistar is a really fast-paced company. They open minds and look for new technology to help improve the daily job and applications. A lot of engineers here are very talented and they always keep an open mind about receiving different opinions. They want to try different technologies, even when they haven’t been approached before. Some companies are more conservative, and it’s like they’re a little bit afraid to move on to a new step and new technology. But at Vistar we always discuss new, upcoming coding techniques we can use, and people want to creatively apply these methods in the projects we work on.

What is it like to be a woman in tech? Why do you think more women should consider this career?

Why there are fewer women engineers is always a big discussion in the computer science field. Women often have different interests, but it doesn’t mean the field has to be limited by gender. Everyone can join this field. Even though I’m often one of a few women in the office, I don’t feel weird — especially at Vistar. We have an inclusive team, and we proactively talk about diversity in the office so it doesn’t become an awkward conversation. Vistar gives everybody an equal opportunity to learn and complete a project, so I don’t feel like there’s a difference between how the genders are treated.

What opportunities do you have for learning new skills while working at Vistar Media?

If there’s a conference taking place outside of the company, Vistar will always send an email to the engineer teams asking if anyone wants to attend to learn a new skill. Last year there was a JavaScript conference and they sent an email to everyone saying, “If anyone wants to learn it, please let us know. We have the tickets and everyone can attend, even though it’s a working day.” I think next month I will also go to the female developer conference in Philadelphia [Women in Tech Summit], which will be a cool opportunity to meet other developers and learn a new technology.

What are some specific challenges you have gotten to work on?

I was working on this small project which was called “tracing.” It was implementing a technology which helps us internally trace our web requests. Before I joined this team, I didn’t really know the technology until the team lead introduced it. He thought that might help us solve our support questions and it would help us to improve the application performance. We got to go to New York to attend a tracing meetup, which was a session hosted by Uber where we talked about these technologies. That was a little bit challenging for me in the beginning because I had no idea how to work on that, but by attending the session and having the other developers’ help, it helped me understand how the system works and how it benefits us.

What are you working on now that you’re excited about?

We have some upcoming new features in our applications that will help customers make a budget plan for their advertisements. It’s kind of like making a report that will help the customer to plan ahead.

What are you looking forward to in your career?

Every day I’m looking to enhance the technologies I work on, and I also want to learn how to design software — how to architect, more about the software architecture. This is harder to learn in school because it’s a skill based on experience. What is the best design to improve the systems? What is the design that will be easiest to maintain in the future? That’s my career goal.

What do you want incoming new employees to know about Vistar Media?

Vistar is a fun and challenging place to work. If you don’t like boring, routine or tedious work, Vistar will be a great fit for you. It’s also great about helping you develop your career because everyone wants to know your goals and tries to help you achieve them.

Learn more about Vistar Media
Companies: Vistar Media
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