Intuit Again: Shikha Singhal on Returning to Work

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Intuit Again is an initiative that provides an opportunity for technologists to return to work after taking a break in their career for caregiving purposes. This platform not only gives candidates a chance to work at one of the “Best Companies to Work For” (#1 in India, #13 in the U.S.), but it also provides technical and other training to sharpen their professional skills.

We talked to Shikha Singhal (second from the right in the above photo), a software engineer who went through the program in Spring 2018, to learn about the highlights and challenges of going back to work.

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Intuit: Where did you work before you paused your career?

SS: I worked at Apple as a senior Java developer and was part of the payments team for their online store. My skills were mostly in Java and services-oriented architecture.

Intuit: Why did you pause your career and for how long?

SS: I’m a mom of twin girls and I paused my career because I wanted to spend quality time with my kids – and I’m really glad I was able to do it. I thought, “I can always go back to work, but I’ll miss this time with my kids.” I took a break for almost six years when my kids were in fourth grade. I was able to spend time with my kids and volunteer at their school, and I started a robotics team for my girls and their friends that I coached for almost five years. I took the team to the world championships representing northern California, and it was the most rewarding experience I’ve had until now. It was rewarding to teach them how to solve real-life problems with programming.

Intuit: What were the biggest challenges you faced when you returned to work?

SS: The biggest challenge was making sure I was able to keep the work-life balance. On my team I’m the only mom, and with a new job you feel the pressures to work a lot. Thankfully at Intuit I was able to keep that balance. I’ve found it’s very flexible here, and I have been able to integrate my work and life together. My mentor was wonderful. She said to me, “Shikha, find your own balance.” If I couldn’t have that balance, I wouldn’t be able to continue working.

Intuit: How did you feel about your primary skills when you returned to work?

SS: During my break I kept learning. I realized big data is the big thing and all of my skills were in Java. So I took a few courses and got two fellowships to build a skill set in big data. I learned the new technologies like Spark, Kafka and Cassandra. I felt I was ready because the team I joined was using exactly the same skills I learned during my break.

Intuit: What new skills did you develop after joining Intuit Again?

SS: During Intuit Again I got a chance to work on a data pipeline project similar to one I had worked on during my break, but this time in a production environment. In this new field I was able to develop (and am still learning) new skills in Scala. When I joined Intuit my team was using Scala, so I bought a book and reached out to people to find out what would be good resources.

Intuit: How did people help you overcome challenges?

SS: My mentor was really good. She would meet me every two weeks for a one-on-one. She was my guide and I was able to talk to her about anything, like life balance. When I joined Intuit Again initially I had a lot of questions, and people on my team were always there to answer them. My manager told me to reach out to anyone – bug them, ask them as many questions as I wanted. So that helped me come up to speed faster on the team.

Intuit: What are you working on now?

SS: I am working on the QuickData Super Glue Portal, which is a self-serve debugging and monitoring tool to ensure data accuracy, data availability and discoverability for data pipelines. I have built a job dependency REST service which provides a lineage graph of schedulers’ jobs and their dependencies. This job dependency lineage will help analysts to find the root cause for data processing issues (for example, delays and failures of job) much faster.

Intuit: How confident do you feel about going to work now?

SS: My confidence has really been boosted. I have mostly been working on high-priority projects and am able to work on challenging problems that really make an impact. So I really like it.

Intuit: What would you tell someone who’s thinking about applying for Intuit Again?

SS: I would say Intuit Again is an amazing program and you should join it. We were able to meet so many people in leadership, including the CTO. It gave me the feeling that they really wanted to make a difference in our life. That was the highlight of the program for me. Overall it was a very rewarding experience. It has helped me believe in myself and has given me the confidence that I can provide regular contributions in today’s world. And it was all possible because of the strong mentorship I got.

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