At Neighborhoods.com, our engineering team is an integral part of everything we do. Dana Immertreu is a vital part of that team. Read on to see what drew her to a career in technology and why solving puzzles keeps her motivated.
What is your role at Neighborhoods.com and what do you enjoy most about your work?
I'm an engineer here at Neighborhoods.com. I work largely on the UI, but am more full stack as of late. I enjoy the opportunities that I have here constantly to solve interesting problems and learn new things.
How did you arrive at your current position? In other words, what is your educational and professional background?
About seven years ago I was a disenchanted Ph.D. student in Russian history considering the possibility of making a major life change. As I had spent my whole adult life gearing up for a career in academia, the question of what else I would do was daunting, but I figured people seem to think technical skills are useful, so I will start by acquiring some of those. So I kept working on my doctorate during the day and going to community college at night. I took classes in a range of things like HTML, graphic design, and PHP. I was surprised to find that I had much more interest and patience for all of it than I ever had for historical writing. Eventually, I got a job at an office where they needed someone to design newsletters and work on a couple of websites. After a couple of years doing that kind of mash-up, I realized that I gravitated much more towards the engineering work than the design work. Since then I've just been looking for opportunities to level up and, for the last year, have been finding them here at Neighborhoods.
What fascinates you about the work you do?
I love thinking of ways to make something work, making it work, and then making it work better. Programming at its best is solving puzzles, and I like puzzles.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Making sure I'm on the same page as others can be tricky. It’s easy to get into my zone with my idealized solution and forget about requirements that don't fit in cleanly, or to go too long without talking to coworkers about related things they are working on. I have to remind myself not to shove communication into the background.
How do you stay motivated at work?
Learning new things is hugely motivating for me. There's a tremendous feeling of success when you've got something working that you had no idea how to do a few days before. It’s also nice to intersperse those really learning-intensive tasks with tasks for which I already have high confidence. So I try to create that mixture when picking what to work on next.
Favorite project you've worked on so far?
I haven't had any projects at Neighborhoods so far that I really disliked. Right now we're working on a tool to catch sales that may have gone unreported by auditing our data against publicly available data. That was such a dry-sounding sentence, but really, the project is full of interesting problems that I've been having a great time thinking about.
How would you best describe the culture at Neighborhoods.com?
Easy-going but motivational. Let me put it this way — we have a flexible work-from-home policy, but I very rarely do work from home because I like coming in to the office. I feel comfortable and energized here.
Favorite area/perk of the office?
There are a lot of great perks here, including the vacation policy, good insurance, etc., but one thing I really enjoy is working on a crossword puzzle with some of my coworkers every day at lunch. I don't know if you'd call that a perk exactly — it’s a perk that I have created by printing off a crossword puzzle every day. So, if you come to work at Neighborhoods, you will enjoy the crossword puzzle perk, courtesy of me (or maybe someone else if I'm on vacation). But be warned, we don't mess around. We skip straight to Saturday and Sunday, the hard puzzle days.
What do you like to do outside of work?
My hobbies include Muay Thai, horseback riding, and gardening. But just so it doesn't sound like I'm always out doing some personal enrichment activity, I have also watched the entirety of Doctor Who over the past four months.