Jennifer is the Content & Communications Manager for MATRIX. Her mission is to understand what information our communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football, and the great state of Texas.
MATRIX Spotlight: Sarah Trigg
This month’s MATRIX spotlight is on Sarah Trigg, a geologist turned software developer turned QA engineer that we recently placed at a client in Phoenix. Sarah has overcome a lot in her career to get where she is today, and has great advice for anyone else looking to grow professionally.
Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in Iran and went to school over there for Geology. During my graduate studies, it was mandatory to take computer courses. In 1987, I got my first job and one of my assignments was to write programs that would automate geological calculations using FORTRAN and BASIC languages. This is when I started to love software development. When I moved to the U.S. after finishing another graduate degree in the Geology field, I enrolled to get a formal Computer Science degree and started to work as a C/C++ developer. It was there that I discovered I have a great attention to detail and QA might be my calling. It has been a long journey to get where I am today, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What has your IT career path looked like?
I started out as a software developer and did that for over 10 years. Over time, I discovered I had a special knack for finding defects. I was finding bugs that no one else could find, so my fellow developers were coming to me to test their code and I would do it as a favor. My boss noticed and tried to convince me to switch to QA. At first, I was reluctant because it felt like I was taking a step back in my career, but eventually I agreed to do it 20 percent of my time. I began to recognize the way my mind works is different; I could think of scenarios that no one else could, and I realized this is my gift. In 2000, I decided to become a full-time QA. I have continued to grow in this role ever since. As a developer, your vision is only on the piece you are developing. You have a narrow vision noticing limited aspects. As a QA, you are looking at the entire system so you should think of all the aspects. As a former developer, I can think like the developers, but also I can think like a customer and to be a successful QA, you must be able to understand both sides. We have to remember that QA has a big role in saving companies money if they start doing their job in the early stages of SDLC.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
My husband and I have a 7-year-old son who is the light of our life. My hobbies include spending time with my family, reading, and hiking. I also love to cook and throw parties. My friends call me “Martha Stewart” because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to the food and decor. My favorite channel is the Food Network – I find it very relaxing, and when I learn a new food, I cook it the next day.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
I worked hard to get several graduate degrees in the geology field, but while I loved being a geologist, I loved computers just as much. It was truly a hard decision for me to leave geology forever and become a full-time developer. My other challenge was the language barrier – I came to this country knowing very little English. I had a PhD in geology so I knew the subjects when I came here to continue my education, but I couldn’t verbalize what I knew, so that was definitely hard in the beginning.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The fact that I took a risk and became very successful at what I do now is incredibly rewarding. Every day I think to myself, I’m in the best field, I love my job, this is my passion. I’m sure I would have been a successful geologist, but there are very limited cities where I could have found a job. I knew back in the early 90s that one day the job opportunities would be endless for people with computer skills. Back then people told me, “If you want to leave geology, go to chemical engineering”. They thought I was making a big mistake getting into computers. Remember that back then, a used computer was $5,000 (not to mention big and clunky) and most people could not afford to buy one. I remember telling them, mark my word, “One day every home will have at least one computer”. I am glad my prediction came true. That’s what gave me the motivation to leave geology.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone?
Go with your passion. Steve Jobs said it best: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” If you don’t like what you’re doing, every day would be a struggle to go to work. If your work is your passion, then it doesn’t even feel like work. So try to find your passion.
There are plenty of jobs out there for everyone – don’t give up hope in hard seasons. Believe whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve.