Behind the Code: Meet Sarah Vargas, Engineering Manager

sarah vargas interview
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Jun 17, 2024
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Kasey Hickey
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Get to know the people behind our products.

In our last employee Q&A feature, we chatted with San Francisco-based engineer John Larmie. We’re excited to continue highlighting the innovative work of our Engineering, Product, and Design teams, who are pivotal in transforming how brands connect with consumers through cutting-edge AI and marketing strategies. 

Our engineers are dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing challenges our customers face, continuously advancing our AI marketing platform to deliver incredible performance. Today, we’re introducing Engineering Manager Sarah Vargas, to share what excites her about her role, what her day-to-day looks like, and why she thinks now is an incredible time to join the team

Tell us a bit about your background.

My journey into computer science started back in high school, where I was fortunate to have an inspiring teacher, Mr. Efram, who ignited my interest in the subject. Although I initially wasn't sure if it was the right path for me, I took the leap and pursued a Computer Science major at UC San Diego, where I also delved into Cognitive Science.

After graduation, I dove headfirst into the tech industry, landing a position at a large company with a robust infrastructure for training new hires. This environment allowed me to quickly acclimate and make meaningful contributions to projects, fueling my desire to learn and grow as a software engineer.

Having gained valuable experience over several years, I felt ready to take on a new challenge and explore a different opportunity to further develop my skills.. That's when I made the exciting decision to join Attentive.

What brought you to Attentive? Why were you excited to join?

After taking a break from the daily grind to move across the country and embark on a road trip around the western United States, I found myself searching for my next job. While on the job hunt, an Attentive recruiter slid into my DMs.

The team’s enthusiasm and passion for the company was contagious. And Attentive’s rapid growth aligned with the type of organization I aspired to join. Throughout the interviews, I was also gaining valuable intel on the dynamic and innovative culture.

Fast forward to the present, and I'm delighted to have reached my three-year milestone at Attentive. From the very beginning, I've been energized by the fast-paced environment and the plethora of opportunities for professional growth within the organization. Collaborating with exceptionally talented individuals who share a commitment to continuous development has been a key factor in my decision to remain with Attentive for the long haul.

Tell us about your team. What are you working on and what are you excited about?

I lead the Integrations team–we’re responsible for building and maintaining all of our integrations with partners and customers. We are striving to connect customers with partners on our platform so we can best facilitate a seamless data exchange to power their message campaigns.

The part of my current role that I’m most excited about right now is helping my team grow. This includes finding projects for the engineers to enhance their skills, and growing the number of people on the team so we can make progress at speed.

Walk us through your day-to-day

7am: Rise & grind

I wake up and either go for a walk, to a workout class (courtesy of Attentive’s wellness stipend), or snooze my alarm, depending on the day. My morning routine isn’t very consistent, but I’ve recently been trying to get outside and move around in the mornings more regularly. I try ‌to do so in rain or shine, as more often than not it’s raining here in the Pacific Northwest. Then I’ll get ready for work and eat breakfast.

9am: Sign on

I work from home, and my office is a few feet away from my kitchen, so I usually take breakfast and tea to my desk. Then I check the latest slacks and emails from my east coast colleagues while eating.

9:30am: Team standup

After catching up on what's been going on, it’s time to check in with my direct team at our daily standup. There are three engineers on my team and our PMs also join to go over project updates and progress.

10am: Morning meetings

My average day consists of a few meetings. My morning meetings are usually with my team. They can be focused on unblocking my team with their tasks, giving feedback on design reviews, one-on-ones with my reports to discuss career paths or projects, and meeting with PMs to discuss future projects. On the Integrations team, one of our focuses is building out new integrations, so we regularly evaluate the technical effort and designs for potential new integrations that we'll build.

12pm: Lunch

I walk away from the screen for a bit to make something for lunch. Oftentimes I have leftovers from making large meals earlier in the week that I can easily reheat. My partner also works remotely from home, so if our schedules align, we'll have lunch together. It’s a refreshing change to have a face-to-face conversation to balance out my zoom calls throughout the day.

1pm: Interviews 

We're actively hiring on my team and across Attentive, so I’ve been working with recruiting to source and interview candidates. I usually meet with a few candidates each week.

2:30pm: Focus time

Usually my meetings wrap up by mid-afternoon and then I can find some time for more heads-down-focused work. If there are any open PRs from my team, I’ll take a look and review them.

This is when I occasionally have time to write code. I usually pick up small tasks that aren’t urgent, but might need to be done. If I can do some of the extraneous work, then my team can focus on providing value to our clients by doing feature work.

There are often action items from my morning meetings that I haven’t followed up on yet, so I’ll take some time to address those. It might be following up with someone on Slack to track down an answer, working on process changes for my team, or writing up a future roadmap or proposal. Then I take a look at my schedule for the next day and do anything needed to prepare for that, before closing my laptop for the day.

Want to be part of a team that's pushing the boundaries of technology? Explore our open roles.

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