Adrienne Tacke is not only working as a software engineer, but also supporting other people -especially women- on Instagram by sharing her technical knowledge, details about her lifestyle and by educating all of us about her job. In March she published her very first book “Coding For Kids – Python” in which she explains the basics of programming in a fun and easily understandable way for kids. With her activities on social media and this recently published book, it is obvious how Adrienne is trying to make coding and generally technical jobs perfectly accessible and interesting for everyone. All of this, while she is still working full-time and volunteering.
I was excited to get to know Adrienne a little better. She answered me a few questions about her job, her life, her book and why she chose a Surface device.
Sara: You are working as a Software Engineer, right? Did you always know this will be your dream job or when and why did you start?
Adrienne: I did not know that this was what I wanted to do. In fact, when I was in college, I was actually pre-enrolled as an International Business major as I thought I could get a job like Anthony Bourdain's! When I realized that this wasn't the case, it came at the right time because I also just started my first tech job as a student technician for my university's Office of Information Technology. It was here that I started learning more about IT in general as I was troubleshooting buggy PCs and maintaining tech accounts. It was also through this job that I found my software development internship and that's where my career truly began.
Sara: What do you like most about your job?
Adrienne: I love that I can do it from anywhere, that there's always something new to learn, and that the software engineering industry is still fairly young, which means the software engineers today have an integral role in shaping it for the years to come! Just recently, I was in the Philippines for a month to spend more time with my Lola ("grandma" in Tagalog). I would work on a few bugs, code a few features assigned for me that sprint, stay connected with video conferencing for our meetings, and collaborate with my team via email and chat. I could do all this, maintain my career, AND spend the rest of my time catching up with my Lola. That's a huge perk that comes with being a software engineer, especially if your company embraces remote work.
Sara: You also share tutorials and tips on Instagram using the hashtag #DontBeAfraidOfTheTerminal Is there a big community on Social Media and what do you think about it?
Adrienne: Yes I do! I absolutely love sharing technical knowledge on social media. I think it helps fight the stereotype that the #womenintech just post pictures of themselves without any real substance. I strongly advocate the fact that being feminine and being technically skilled are not mutually exclusive. Because of this, it's extremely important to me to not only post a great photo but to provide something of value to those reading the caption.
The community on Instagram has been incredibly supportive and I can't thank them enough for being so curious, engaged, and excited about tech and software engineering! With that said, I think the community we have is a strong and dedicated one, even though we may not be as large as fashion or beauty social media communities. We are niche, but we are awesome and we're slowly growing!
Sara: Just a few days ago you announced some big news: You published a book! “Coding For Kids – Python”, in which you explain the basics of programming in a fun way. Congratulations! What was your initial motivation to write a book for kids? And how long did it take?
Adrienne: Vielen, vielen dank! I was approached by a publisher to write this book because I caught their attention with my Instagram account! They loved my perspective as a software engineer, my advocacy for more women and girls to join software engineering, and most importantly, standing out with my #DontBeAfraidOfTheTerminal and other educational posts! I always knew that I loved teaching and writing about software engineering in accessible ways, so this book was almost a no-brainer for me to take on.
I'll admit, when I first saw the schedule of milestones, all the drafts and edits I had to create, and the time in between tight deadlines to make that all happen, I almost rejected the idea. I didn't think I could do all of that work, AND maintain my full-time job, AND do all of my other side projects (like Instagram, blog posts, volunteering to speak, etc.). Not to mention the little time I would have left to just relax and watch TV shows with my husband! I'm so happy I decided to take a chance and put myself through the hard work. It was so rewarding! In fact, I already want to write another book!
Overall, this book took me about 3 months to write, with 2-3 chapters, associated activities, and working code samples expected every two weeks! It was tough and a significant amount of coffee was involved!
Sara: I can only imagine how much effort you must have put in it. How did you manage to create an access to programming from a kids perspective?
Adrienne: I ask myself that question whenever I think back on my writing period! It was incredibly difficult to take certain concepts and make them simple and fun. Especially when speaking to an audience with little to no programming experience, extra thought and consideration was required when writing this book. There were many times when I'd start writing and have a few paragraphs going with a specific analogy or explanation in mind only to find that it was still too complicated. I'd take breaks or even come back to it every other day and still not find the right way to explain something. Those sections were the ones I had to spend all-nighters on because the right explanation finally came to me right before a milestone was due. I repeated this process for the entire book. When I finally had a full first draft, I luckily had extra editing help from some proofreaders, editors, and technical reviewers. These people worked my book through additional editing phases to ensure clarity, flow, and working code in all relevant sections. Overall, I'm very happy with the final product and anxiously await the feedback I get from my younger readers!
Sara: So, when will your book be released officially? I am going to get a copy for sure.
Sara: You are working on a Surface Book, right? And saw that you’ve been working on a Surface Studio as well. What do you like about the Surface devices?
Adrienne: I have been working with the Surface Book and Surface Studio for a little over a year now. I love these devices! For the Surface Book specifically, I really love it's flexibility. The touchscreen makes it effortless to use for some mockups or notes and the responsiveness with the Surface Pen is very good. It is something I always miss when working on a "normal" laptop. The Surface Studio is probably my all-time favorite desktop for development. It has a crazy, gorgeous, high-res screen that is a dream to work with. I can fit up to 2 code editors, a terminal, and a browser window effortlessly on one screen, making it so much more productive than tabbing back and forth between windows or looking at two different monitors. The mobility of the screen allows me to work efficiently depending on the task at hand. I can lay the screen flat when I need to do more artistic tasks like sketching or process workflows then bring it upright in a flash when I need to switch to coding. I don't think I can use another machine again!
Sara: How is your Surface supporting your daily work routine?
Adrienne: Aside from all the things I love about it already mentioned above, my Surface supports me in almost every other aspect of my day-to-day. In fact, when I was remote working in the Philippines, I solely used my Surface for development and team video conferencing. It worked like a charm!
Sara: What is your favorite feature about both, the Surface Studio and the Surface Book?
Adrienne: For the Surface Studio, definitely it's gorgeous high-resolution touchscreen. For the Surface Book, it's effortless integration with the dockable keyboard!
Sara: Where do you see yourself in three years?
Adrienne: In three years, I'd have a few more books written, have some conference talks on my resume, and still be inspiring more women and girls to take a look at a software engineering career. Ideally, I'll also be working a fully remote position so that I can travel and see more of this beautiful world! And who knows? Maybe I'll do a follow-up interview with you all after also becoming an official Surface ambassador! ;)
Thank you so much, Adrienne Tacke, for taking your precious time to share your story with us. If you would like to find out more about Adrienne or to get in touch, you can easily find her here:
Instagram: @adriennetacke Twitter: @adriennetacke