Maria Loza didn’t always want to become a hot-shot engineer for one of Seattle’s coolest startups. Originally, she planned to continue her education and focus on becoming a pediatric cardiologist: a career that saw her study and almost graduate from a program to achieve her dream. But one year away from completing her prerequisites, she realized that something was amiss.
“The closer I got to finishing, I realized I wasn't feeling that excitement. I really enjoy learning, but how am I supposed to help people if I can't find that sparkle?” she says earnestly.
Dropping a medical career and taking a chance on computers is a bold and daring move and one that paid off immediately. “I’d always liked computers, so I thought I might like programming. On the spot, I went to my counselor and completely changed majors”, she says with a grin.
“This was a huge deal for me. But the more classes I took, the more I realized that this is a topic I can study in my own time, which was a complete 360 from medicine, and I could tell I was on the right path.”
Community is important to Maria, and she quickly became part of a group that comes together to “help each other solve problems and have discussions of what the next version will be or help fix a current bug.” She says, “I think it’s important when working in a world of constant movement for it to be community focused. I like to be part of a community that’s very open, especially when it comes to new developers.”
Unfortunately, being a female developer in a highly male-dominated industry hasn’t always been an easy ride. “Sexism is a major thing. Personally, I’ve known women who have felt it happen in a company, and they’ve had to leave because they didn’t feel welcomed, or it was a pretty blatant scenario of sexism happening. Sadly, it’s a rarity to find a company that’s open and welcoming,” she says.
“I feel like we’ve made so much progress, but there are still companies that don’t welcome women, and it goes back to ‘oh you’re a woman, you don’t know what to do,’ or ‘you should be focusing on the front end and styling’ instead of the more technical backend. For me, that’s not fun. We should be helping each other out.”
As mentioned earlier, community is at the heart of Maria’s passion for her profession, and she says, “luckily, there are some communities out there for women developers who come together, share stories, share knowledge, and red flags. It’s amazing that we can look out for each other and find each other better places to work.”
“I feel like whatever you say is important. If you have recommendations or improvements for projects, you should feel heard. I feel like Picnic does this very well.
"The company is always open to suggestions, and there’s never been a moment where being a woman or young in my career is a negative thing".
I never feel like my voice isn’t heard, and I don’t feel uncomfortable voicing my opinions. They seem well received, and we end up making those changes, so something is going well!”
Maria was drawn to life in the Picnic basket because “I enjoy technology or anything new and creative when it comes to food, and there’s a cool machine out there that makes your pizza from start to finish! I felt it would be awesome to see how that would work, what software it needs, and just be part of that community.”
Having not previously worked at a startup, Maria was keen to explore what this looks like in practice. “I’ve had lots of interactions with different teams, and that’s really helped me grow as a professional,” she says. “There are so many experiences here that I can learn from as both a person and a developer.”
On an average day, Maria spends her time collaborating in meetings, ensuring that projects are running smoothly, and working on code. “I’m currently focused on the kitchen management system for our customers that helps them look at their orders more easily and understand how the station is working each day. I love making life easier for the customer to manage their kitchen.”
Maria is enthusiastic when asked about what it’s like to work at Picnic. “I have to make sure that my tasks are managed correctly when it comes to time. We’re not handheld at Picnic. We’re treated like adults. If you’re working on something, we’re expected to be focusing on that. No one bugs you or micromanages. We work as a team and support each other.”
With community being so close to Maria’s heart, it’s clear to see why she’s thrived at Picnic.
If you want to join a supportive environment and work on exciting new technologies, check out our open roles.