Kenyetta Jeter, a Software Engineer at JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPMC), swears by some career advice we should all be following: “Always take charge of your career, and do not be a backseat driver. Let your voice be heard, and never be complacent.” She picked up this wisdom while participating in Tech Connect, a JPMC program that targets non-traditional technology talent and works toward making the company more cognitively diverse and inclusive.
For Dana Wheeler, a Software Engineer at JPMC, Tech Connect has been equally rewarding. As she puts it: “Tech Connect was the bridge I needed to fully immerse myself into the application development world. It gave me the confidence and Java skills to make that leap.” Both Dana and Kenyetta say that the program has been invaluable in helping them pivot career paths into technology with confidence.
Tova Weingarten, a JPMC Software Engineer Associate, feels the same. Tova says: “Tech Connect empowered me to realize that I can achieve anything and to set my goals high” and “the program also made me realize I want to be a leader and that I would not feel accomplished if I plateaued.”
Jeter, Wheeler, and Weingarten recently spoke to Fairygodboss about why they’re so energized by their careers and why they suggest women consider following their path.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
KJ: I’ve been in my current role for five months. Previously, I developed full-stack software solutions and maintained stability, availability, and remediation of cybersecurity vulnerabilities for multiple web applications.
DW: I have been in my current role for a little over a year. Previously, I was a student, double majoring in management information systems and marketing.
TW: I’ve been in my role for two and a half years. Previously, I was working as a cybersecurity Analyst.
Tell me a bit about your first day (or week) in the Tech Connect program. What kinds of things, whether formal onboarding programs or casual interactions, made you feel comfortable?
DW: On the first day, we were introduced to the instructors, and I immediately noticed that they were patient, friendly, and talented. This helped suppress any anxiety I had about my decision to pursue software development as a career, and I became more optimistic about becoming an engineer.
There was also comfort in knowing that, within our cohort, people had all different backgrounds. I remember meeting my classmates and learning that some people had never seen a line of code before; some had studied English; and, for others, English was a second language. I was pleasantly surprised by our group; it was extremely diverse, but we shared a common goal.
TW: I remember walking into the building on my very first day and being immediately greeted by one of the program managers by my name. It immediately dissolved any feelings of intimidation and solidified the first of many long-term friendships and partnerships in the firm. I still keep in touch with him. That day I also was greeted by my interviewer, who introduced me to some senior leaders and even recalled some of the topics we had discussed over three months prior.
KJ: In my current role, I’m working on developing backend services that automate current manual business processes. The most exciting part is being able to experience and be a key value contributor to delivering a product throughout the entire Software Development Lifecycle.
DW: I work on an application development team in the Consumer and Community Banking line of business. We work with multiple home-lending applications in the correspondent space. My priorities are improving the customer experience, reducing processing time, and maintaining overall stability and quality of our apps. The most exciting part of my job is that I am constantly learning. I have had the incredible opportunity to build frameworks from the ground up, use both old and new technologies, and learn about the mortgage business in general.
TW: I currently am a Java and Python developer for the JPMorgan Chase Cloud Infrastructure Program. My priorities include security of sensitive data, programmatically managing cloud inventory, and ensuring code and infrastructure stability. I love the team that I work with, leading engineers exploring cutting-edge technology.
What about JPMorgan Chase & Co. stood out to you and made you want to join? What’s been your favorite aspect since joining?
KJ: JPMorgan Chase stood out as one of the largest financial institutions and, most importantly, as a company that recognized the underrepresentation of diverse candidates in technology and acted with a purpose to captivate qualified candidates, promote diversity of thought, and provide skill training to counter this gap. Ultimately, my favorite aspect is the amount of investment concentrated on employee interests and skill development, technological innovation, and endless opportunities for internal mobility.
DW: I was attracted to the unwavering commitment to growth and diversity. The Tech Connect program demonstrated this by providing the skills for female technologists to succeed in a male-dominated industry. JPMorgan Chase empowers its employees to learn new things and encourages personal development, which is something I feel strongly about.
TW: I was immediately drawn to the fast-paced environment and motivated culture. Despite the firm’s size, I truly feel that I personally can make a difference.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
KJ: We have several special weeks through the year where employees can step away from the day-to-day tasks and join an educational session on innovation and technology in the financial sector. Another exciting opportunity is the endless amount of Business Resource Groups, which serve as clubs for employees who share similar interests, culturally or socially.
DW: Marianne Lake, the CFO, described JPMorgan Chase as not only a bank but as a technology company. This is partially evident by our annual 10+ billion dollar technology investment. A lot of people also probably don’t know that technologists at JPMorgan Chase can give back to nonprofits during their regular work hours through our Force for Good program. I was able to spend about 10% of my work week collaborating with other software engineers and building technology for a local nonprofit in my community.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
KJ: Never limit yourself because of what you don’t know right now or allow others to place limitations on you. Learning is a lifetime task. Frequently ask for feedback.
What advice would you give to other women interested in Tech Connect?
KJ: Don’t let fear deter you from maximizing your potential. Be confident, define success on your own terms, and never stop learning and innovating. The hardest part is taking the first step, but, once the first step is taken, there is a team beside you to help you along the way.
DW: If you did not major in computer science but are passionate about tech and willing to put in the hours, the Tech Connect program is a fantastic way to start (or switch into) a technology career. The technology industry needs more female talent for innovation, leadership, and diversity of thought. Don’t shy away from developing because you don’t fit some artificial social stereotype – go for it!
TW: Tech Connect is challenging, but you’ll be able to learn a new language in a few weeks and transition to a different career path in a massive firm. This will open so many doors. Your greatest challenge can also be your greatest opportunity!
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