Exploring Frontend Engineering at Choco

Team culture, technical projects, and being the first female front-end engineer to join the team.
Life at Choco Dec 07, 2021
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Meet Sara Ravasio, a valued member of the Choco community and the first woman to join our growing front-end engineering team.

We sat down with her to learn more about the culture of our engineering teams, the technical projects she’s working on, the challenges that she and the team face, and what a day in her role looks like.

Joining the Frontend Team at Choco

Sara initially joined as a front-end engineer, a role that she still holds today. She is also currently the tech lead of the design system.

When it comes to having reservations about joining the tech team, Sara wasn’t really surprised to learn that she’d be the first female front-end developer.

She already knew that men outnumber women in the tech industry. After all, studies show the ratio of men to women in engineering is 5:1.

What mattered to her, was how she’d be treated. It didn’t take long for Sara to learn that Chocorians appreciate great work and a good character, regardless of race, age, gender, or ethnicity.

She felt the team’s openness, with the common ground being that they were all there to create epic tech projects. She dives deeper and explains there is even a regular Tech Culture Sharing event where people in the team learn about other cultures’ holidays, share food, and talk about their experiences coming from different backgrounds.

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At Choco, she’s been treated as just another developer in the team. Her advice to anyone in a similar position thinking about joining a start-up:

“Try to understand if the company is just looking to have another female for their own ratio balance, or if they are actually valuing the skills and experience you can bring to the company.”

Basically, consider whether they value you as a person, not just on the merit of your gender for diversity’s sake.

An Opportunity to Grow

The tech team is divided into project-focused sub-teams. Each team is equipped with engineers, project managers, product designers, and more.

For Sara, her team feels as if “they are old friends working together on something cool.” That sense of community definitely enables better collaboration.

Shortly after joining Choco, Sara received more responsibilities in her role. For example, she was put in charge of the Choco broadcast feature. Leading this initiative sparked more confidence in the value she has to bring, trusting that she got this role for a reason, and to own her place at Choco.

As Sara experienced rapid growth in writing code, she became more self-assured and began to speak up in meetings and general day-to-day collaborations, expressing her point of view and asking questions. Sara loves that every day there is an opportunity to learn from and contribute to the team in general.

She explains that her role requires a lot of independent time management and work prioritization, so a self-directed work ethic is a must for all tech employees (and all choco employees in general).

Sara's Top Frontend Engineering Initiatives & Projects

On top of the typical day-to-day work, Sara has also been able to involve herself in some pretty cool initiatives.

Firstly, there’s Front-End Cafe. Since each front-end engineer works within a different sub-team, they make time every two weeks to sit together and discuss key topics, explore current initiatives, and ask questions. Sara, who is a moderator of the session, says her favorite is taking the time to give ‘kudos’ and express gratitude to one another on the team.

“We always take a moment to share what went well, this is important because so much of the time people often only speak about what is not going right.”

It’s also something that Choco values in its overall company culture. We care about uplifting ourselves and others by focusing on what is going well and expressing appreciation. This helps us all to grow and improve our systems, but without acknowledging the positive aspects, we miss out on the opportunity to feel the joy in what we do.

There are also regular competitions and challenges for the teams. For example, we recently held an event called Bug Bash Week. Essentially, it was a full week of hands-on collaboration that allowed engineers to solve problems, smash bugs, and enjoy a gamified work week. The grand prize went to the Chocorian who fixed the most bugs. One of the winners? Sara! She won a voucher for a free night in a fancy hotel.

On the more technical side (front-end engineers and tech enthusiasts, this is for you), Choco’s approach to front-end development is rooted in innovation. They are currently working with technologies like React, typescript, GraphQL, as well as creating components in an internal library for UI integration in web and mobile app development. What’s next? Just to name a few, they are planning on moving to server-side rendering and updating the micro frontend structure from multi-repository to mono repository.

Currently, Sara is working with the challenges that come up around coding and UI, and she’s really enjoying the design system right now, building reusable components in an abstract way.

Front-end Developers, is Choco Right for You?

One of the most important aspects of working for Choco that Sara got from the start was that it’s team-first, always. Even if someone is an incredible developer, if they’re not great to work with on the team, Choco is not for them. Sara loves that Choco puts such a high value on a person’s character.

“Choco is very transparent, something that is very important for me. For example, during the company all-hands meeting we get an in-depth update on how the company is doing, as well as updates from different departments.”

She says that having time for a question and answer session with the CEO gives her the sense that everyone’s voice is heard and valued within the company.

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She says that having time for a question and answer session with the CEO gives her the sense that everyone’s voice is heard and valued within the company.

Sara knows that Choco doesn’t just see each person as a number, but as real people who are contributing wonderful things to the company.

Finally, Sara shares one more benefit of working in Choco’s tech team, “of course, we have great parties.”

Are you a front-end developer looking for a new role that challenges your skills and inspires you to grow? You might be exactly what we’re looking for. Check out our open positions here.

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