From Investment Banking to Entrepreneurship, Meet Buffer Growth Engineer Michelle From Hackbright’s First Class!

Michelle Sun is a former investment banker that became an entrepreneur, and is now working as a software engineer. She is currently at Buffer working on growth as a software engineer. She has one year of experience as a software engineer after graduating from Hackbright Academy in 2012. Here is her story.
Michelle Sun
Growth Engineer, Buffer
Michelle is a former investment banker that became an entrepreneur, and is now working as a software engineer. She is currently at Buffer, an app that helps you share to Twitter, Facebook and more. She graduated from Hackbright Academy in the summer of 2012. Here is her story.

Careers Are a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder

I became curious of what goes on in engineering after meeting an engineer I was working on a startup with, because I wanted to be able to bring my ideas to reality! Overall, technology is amazing not only because it leverages an individual’s time and effort, but also the creative nature of software engineering – it’s like a blank canvas, except the paint (the front end) is powered by code.

My interest in technology started when I was a teenager. In high school, I remember learning about the turtle in Logo. I considered majoring in computer science when I went into college, but instead I chose Economics and went into investment banking. When I was in banking, I worked in the technology industry team and helped technology companies like Alibaba and Tencent do financing. Being exposed to these entrepreneurs and executives early on in my career really piqued my interest in the technology field.

When I was building my startup in Hong Kong, I went to an office hour that Joel, the founder of Buffer, had been doing to help local startups. The founders of Buffer were traveling and working at the same time. Shortly after meeting Joel, I connected with Leo and we got together for a coding session (we were both learning Ruby on Rails then). We stayed in touch throughout the following years and crossed paths again in San Francisco, where the Buffer founders are now based.

With the software engineering skill set I gained after Hackbright and being familiar with the company culture, it felt really intuitive to take on the role with Buffer to work on growth and analytics.

A Day in the Life of a Growth Engineer!

Buffer is a social media management system that allows businesses and individuals to share intelligently across social networks.

In a typical work day, I can be building out metrics reporting dashboards, doing adhoc analysis or running A/B tests or feature flips. During the week I have calls with the product and engineering lead to stay in sync about metrics.

Because Buffer is a remote team, I go on a daily pair call with another team member across the globe to talk about our day and self-improvement goals. Once a week, I am an on-call engineer, which means I work on customer facing side to help with users who email us with questions or answer tweets.

Advice for New Engineers

Be responsible for your own learning. When in a new job, not just finish what you need to do but go deeper than the problem in hand and treat it as an opportunity to learn the surrounding topics.

Keep a note of what you learn, even if just a small thing a day. It is an incredible feeling to look back and see how far you have come.