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Tech Bytes: spotlighting Black women engineers at Google

A pink, purple and blue slide with the title “Build modular reusable code.” A woman, Kendra, is wearing a green shirt and smiling at the camera while holding a stuffed bear.

Earlier this year, Google’s Women Techmakers launched “Tech Bytes,” a series featuring Black women engineers and developers at Google. Tech Bytes supports our broader effort to spotlight Black women in tech by sharing their technical expertise, and creating a space for Black women in the industry to connect.

For our latest episode of Tech Bytes, we sat down with Kendra Claiborne, an Application Engineer at YouTube, to learn more about her role and passion for technology.

Tell us about your path to joining the tech industry. Where were you before?

My journey into tech started when I was eight years old, building websites for fun and searching online to learn how the computer works. My passion for programming led me to pursue a degree in Computer Science at the University at Buffalo. During my undergraduate years, I took an internship at a startup that specialized in building custom applications on the Salesforce platform. I was very unfamiliar with Salesforce when I first started, but I was excited to learn something new. Since that internship, I’ve built both frontend (user-facing) and backend solutions on the Salesforce platform for customers in many different industries. Those opportunities led me to the YouTube Content Partnerships Systems team in 2020.

Tell us about your role on that team. What do you do day to day?

I’m an Application Engineer, and I’ve carried my past experience into this role by focusing on building frontend and backend solutions on the Salesforce platform. Each day is slightly different from the next. My team applies the agile methodology for software development, which means we deliver feature requests or fix bugs incrementally instead of all at once. We participate in two-week “sprints” to get these done most efficiently. Leading up to a sprint, I am laser focused on mapping out the design for a feature request, which involves a lot of research and collaboration with the team and project lead. Once we've defined our approach and the tasks required to accomplish it, we focus on building out the features. I’ll spend the next 5-8 days coding, testing and submitting my code for peer review — after which, it will get deployed to our staging environments. A staging environment is like a testing ground, where we can make sure our code is working as intended before we push it live. At the end of the sprint, if our deliverables have been approved for Quality Assurance (QA) — meaning they have reliable performance and functionality — they'll be released to production.

What was the most important class or training that you took? What was a key technical takeaway?

During my undergraduate studies, I took a Data Structures and Algorithms Design course. That class was instrumental in building my problem solving skills. It taught me how to more effectively organize, store, and solve problems based on inputs of data.

Tell us about your Tech Bytes episode. What message did you want to get across?

In my Tech Bytes episode, I discuss three different topics: communicating changes across separate systems through the Publisher-Subscriber Model; building modular, reusable code, which separates functionality into independent pieces of code; and the importance of Test Driven Development. I hope that viewers learn something new and get inspired to find out more about these subjects — and maybe even use them in a future project.

Check out Kendra’s Tech Bytes episode for more, and explore other interviews on our Tech Bytes YouTube channel. You can also learn more about our efforts to spotlight Black women in tech on the Google’s Women Techmakers website.

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