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Ellie, a software engineer, is working at her computer

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Building Bulb

Meet Bulb’s first engineering intern

Only 11% of software engineers identify as female. We’ve been thinking about ways to change that at Bulb. Ellie, our first software engineer intern, tells us about her journey towards a career in tech.

A more diverse tech team at Bulb means better products for our members. While hiring more female engineers sounds like the obvious answer to under-representation, the pool we hire them from reflects a wider bias. Only 27% of female higher-education students see tech as a viable career, compared to 61% of their male counterparts.

Long term, making tech roles more visible and tackling gender stereotypes in education needs to be on the agenda. But at Bulb, we believe in taking Action this day. As well as hiring experienced engineers, we’re trialling an internship programme to make the role more accessible to everyone, including those without any previous tech experience.

Ellie has worked at Bulb for 3 years. In November, she took on a 6-week internship with one of our product teams.

Introducing Ellie

Tell us about yourself. During the second year of my maths degree in the UK’s best city (Bristol, obviously) I saw the documentary Chasing Ice. From that point on I wanted to work in renewable energy. When I’m not helping Bulb save the world, I love hiking and electronic music.

What were you doing at Bulb before the internship? I started out as an Energy Specialist and I became a team leader after about six months. In that role I managed a team of Energy Specialists working to provide a great experience for our members.

Why did you want to become a software engineer? Code is really cool. Plus I missed thinking about mathsy things. I love that software engineers need to come up with logical solutions to technical problems. That’s why diverse teams are great: when people have different backgrounds, they approach problems in different ways.

How has your role changed? I moved from a service team to a product team. We’re responsible for building and maintaining features in the app and every Bulb member’s account. Instead of trying to answer as many of our members’ queries as possible, we’re thinking about ways to reduce the need for our members to get in touch with us in the first place. I’m loving it!

Ellie on... the internship

What’s been the hardest thing to learn? I’ve been adjusting to a new type of work. I used to spend a lot of time fielding questions and completing shorter tasks. Now I spend longer periods of time thinking about deeper problems. The concentration it requires is different.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve built so far? National Grid provides data on the carbon intensity of the UK’s fossil fuel supply. I created a way for Bulb to automatically access this data so we’re able to accurately calculate the positive carbon impact of using Bulb’s green energy.

Has your view on software engineering as a career changed? It’s changed in the sense that I’m completely confident now: this is what I want to do. As with anything, it’s hard to be 100% certain before you give it a go. It’s been fantastic to discover that and everyone has been really supportive and welcoming.

Ellie on... the future

What are you most excited to learn about in the future? There are so many awesome things I don’t know anything about yet. I’m pretty excited by data visualisation so I might have a crack at a couple of side projects in that area.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years? I want to stay at Bulb and learn how to be a really good software engineer. I'll hopefully rotate through a few teams and continue to learn from developers, product managers, designers and user researchers.

Internships at Bulb

We’re proud to have pledged to the Tech Talent Charter to increase diversity in our own technology team and beyond. We believe internships are a great way to do this at an individual level.

Ellie is now a permanent software engineer at Bulb. Her experience as a pioneering intern has encouraged us to explore new ways we can offer this opportunity to more people over the coming months.

What more could we be doing to create greater diversity in tech? We love to learn new tricks. Let us know in the Bulb Community.