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Engineers in the Wild – Gaby Andrade of Intuit

What were you passionate about in elementary school? Was it reading? Science? The monkey bars? When you got to middle school, were you still passionate about it? What about high school? And college?

Gaby Andrade, Software Engineer at Intuit, studied international relations and economics in college. It wasn’t until after she finished school that she discovered engineering!

You can be passionate about more than one thing. Maybe it’s that same thing you were passionate about in elementary school – or maybe it’s something totally different. Maybe it’s something you never thought you’d ever be passionate about. At Intuit, a company that builds responsive business software like TurboTax and QuickBooks, Gaby works on the team that makes mobile apps run.

Ever thought about doing your taxes on your iPhone? Thanks to Gaby, you can!

Where and what did you study?
I studied international relations and economics at Claremont McKenna College, which is about 40 minutes from Los Angeles, CA.

What’s your title?
Software Engineer

Which team do you work on?
I work on a team that builds parts that make Intuit’s mobile apps run. One of those apps is TurboTax, which helps people do their taxes quickly and painlessly on their smart phones.


Wait. You studied international relations and economics – how did you become interested in engineering?
It was completely by accident! When I was in school, I didn’t know what software engineers did and never considered it. I had a preconceived (and wrong) idea that all programmers were nerdy guys who played video games all day. I started considering engineering after college, when I worked for an entertainment company, and got curious about making changes to their website. I started teaching myself some web development and taking classes after work, and that helped me realize I loved programming – especially the creativity and problem solving involved. I decided to quit my job and attend Hackbright Academy, a three-month program for women who want to transition into software engineering. After the program I got a job at Intuit as a software engineer.

If you were telling a 5-year old about a really creative and challenging project that you did, what would you say?
I built an app called “Bite” in a month when I attended Hackbright Academy. Bite allows users to save the restaurants they want to visit on a map and recommend them to their friends. One of the most difficult parts was building out my data model, which means figuring out how the different data (like users, restaurants, and recommendations) in my app relate to each other and how to represent that information. This was difficult because there is no “correct” way to do this, just many different types of ways, so that meant I had to do a lot of research on what the options were and then weigh the pros and cons of each. Even after I thought I had chosen the “best” option, I found myself having to change my model as time went on and I had to add new features.

What did you want to be when you were six?
A doctor. My mom had migraines all the time and I wanted to find a cure to make her feel better. However, I was never any good at biology so I ruled that option out pretty early, but I still really admire doctors!

Why did you want to work at Intuit?
I heard that the people at Intuit are really kind and considerate, and I wanted to work with people like that, who would be happy to teach me new things. I’ve found that to be very true, and am very grateful to work at Intuit!

Engineers in the Wild is a series of interviews with real-life engineers. Click here to read more!