Women in Technology Spotlight: Sharon Burge

Software development manager 

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I majored in Mathematics at Drew University, which allowed me to develop my analytical skills. After accepting an offer from Electronic Data Systems (EDS), I attended their technical training for new employees hired as associate developers. I was able to use the skills I learned at EDS to work as a software developer. Afterwards, I worked in the IT division of a mortgage company, and now I’m with Ascensus.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

When I first came to Ascensus, I started as a senior software developer. My manager was switching positions at the time, so they were looking to hire another manager. Fortunately, I was promoted and was able to work as a development lead. I’ve only been with Ascensus for two years, so I’ve definitely experienced a lot of movement within the company in a short amount of time.

The job description featured on Ascensus.com interested me, because it described a position that would be challenging and rewarding. When I started the interview process, I learned that Ascensus was very forward-thinking in terms of their approach to software development.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in technology?

I’ve always enjoyed solving problems. My early attempts at JavaScript and my EDS training highlighted my desire to solve technical problems. Technology is constantly evolving, which adds another layer to an exciting career choice. You can be a master today, and a novice tomorrow. It’s fun and rewarding to continue finding new and better ways to complete processes.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

At Ascensus, we’re always trying to make ourselves better. We know there is room for continuous improvement. Something unique the IT department does is utilize TV screens to show the status of our test cases. Our code goes into our development environment and runs automated tests to validate our changes. This ensures that existing functionality has not been negatively impacted. The TVs assist in letting all groups know if one of the applications failed or if tests were not successful. This allows us to immediately celebrate successes or identify potential issues.

What advice would you give someone who wants to land a job in the technology field?

I recommend getting involved in the online community as soon as possible. This can include contributing to open source repositories, responding to questions on Stack Overflow, or even joining technical meet-ups. Internships are also a great way to gain more knowledge about the field and learn from experienced developers. If you’re younger, you could apply to coding challenges offered by your high school.

Can you provide any guidance for women aiming for leadership positions?

Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. It’s okay to question the status quo. Just because something has been done a certain way before, doesn’t mean that it’s the right or the best way to do it. At other companies I’ve worked for, there were times I was the only woman at meetings. Some people may treat you a little differently, but don’t let it prevent you from making sure your word is heard.

Did anyone or anything help you to get to where you are today?

Not only did my EDS tech training help me, but the first technical lead I worked with after my training was very supportive. She was really helpful in teaching me coding, but she also showed me it’s possible to be a successful, respectable woman working in the field of technology.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save?

Saving is a critical part of my life, especially as costs continue to rise and as the economy fluctuates. My work is more meaningful knowing that I’m helping others save for college, health care, and retirement.