This series highlights the contributions and expertise of some of the talented women in the testing community. For this one, we interviewed Allison Wilbur, a software engineer right here at Sauce Labs who works closely with our internal team as well as our customers.
Growing up, Allison Wilbur loved computers and fell in love with programming. She got her bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked as a support engineer before she moved into a software engineering role at Sauce Labs. Nowadays, you’ll find Allison working with Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, and a host of different Sauce Labs-specific code repositories. As a platform engineer at Sauce Labs, she works hard building tools and pipelines that make other developers’ lives easier. Allison agreed to share her experience with us as a woman in the testing field.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in technology, specifically testing?
Being a woman in testing means I get to bring something to the table that others might not be used to. All kinds of people use software, so it makes sense that all kinds of people should help create and test it! I love the opportunity to use my skills and make an impact. It can certainly be challenging, but it’s also really rewarding.
What accomplishments are you most proud of? Any specific problems you’ve solved in a creative way that others could learn from?
I’m proud of my career and the positive impact my work has had on both customers and my fellow co-workers over the years. There was one project in particular that stands out to me—my teammate and I were developing a proof-of-concept solution for automating the distribution of large files to a large number of hosts using open source BitTorrent libraries. In addition to being a lot of fun to work on, it was one of those projects that made me stop and think “wow, I didn’t realize I was capable of something like this.” It seemed daunting at first, but after breaking it down into small pieces, it didn’t take as long as I expected to have a working solution.
Who have you learned the most from in this industry?
I’ve learned the most from the people I work closest with, usually my teammates. A healthy team dynamic is important for feeling secure enough to speak up with questions, ask for feedback, or chat about ideas. I’ve been blessed with a great company culture that’s centered around respect and sharing knowledge.
What advice would you give your younger self (or someone you were mentoring)?
Don’t put yourself down—it’s normal to get frustrated sometimes, but it’s important to forgive yourself for it and keep trying. Asking others for help and advice is a sign of strength, not weakness. When you don’t know how to do something, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it—it just means you don’t know how to do it yet. With some time and effort, you will get there. And it’s good to take a moment every now and then to reflect on how far you’ve come.
We're grateful to Allison for sitting down with us to share her story! If you're interested in this topic and would like to read about others, please check out the previous post in the series, an interview with Ashley Hunsberger.