You don’t need formal training in tech to succeed at Unqork. In fact, we think the varied backgrounds on our team makes us stronger—just ask Michael, Kat, and Stephanie.
If you’ve been keeping up with our Creator Spotlight series, you might have noticed a few commonalities. Unqorkers love to solve problems collaboratively, appreciate how no-code democratizes software development, and would tell anyone with an interest in no-code to just go for it. You might have noticed something else too—many of our team members don't have formal training in computer science, programming languages, or software development.
We’re proud to have former TV executives, fashion majors, interior designers, archivists, architects, and more on our roster. And this isn’t an accident—it’s by design. Research shows that the more diversity of fields represented in a problem-solving group, the more likely a problem will be solved. In other words, innovation often happens at the intersection of disciplines.
Being open to hiring engineers, product managers, and UX designers with non-traditional backgrounds is also especially important at Unqork because of our unique user base. We want our product to be just as accessible to creators without coding experience as it is to creators that have spent years writing code—which means that team members without computer science backgrounds offer valuable perspectives as we build. The greater the diversity of input on the product side, the more accessible the output. And as Netta Jenkins, our VP of Global Inclusion adds, “By allowing people to access and utilize technology in the way they feel most comfortable doing it, we embed diversity and equity into the Unqork product itself.”
At Unqork, we’re solving complex problems every day—and we’re firm believers in the idea that diverse viewpoints and backgrounds help us solve these problems more effectively. Just ask Stephanie Coy, Michael Lin, and Kat Stec, three Unqork-ers who were all on very different career paths before they started in tech.
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Q: To get us started, can you tell us a bit about your career background before Unqork?
Stephanie Coy, Software Engineer: I have a Master's degree in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives Management. I worked as a taxonomist for Oath (previously AOL), as an archivist at the Brooklyn Historical Society, at an archival consulting group called The Winthrop Group, and as a records manager for the city of New York in the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS).
Kat Stec, UX Designer: I studied and then practiced Interior Architecture & Design for about five years before joining Unqork as a UX Designer. The parts of design that I enjoyed most weren’t compatible with the realities of designing physical spaces, so I decided to explore digital environments. I started freelancing so I could juggle digital projects in between my Interior Design projects and build up my skills in this new medium.
Michael Lin, Lead UX Designer: I went to school and practiced in the Architecture/Interior Architecture field for many years. Before I transitioned into UX, I was a Designer at Henrybuilt, a premium kitchen and whole-house systems company. After I made the switch, I worked at a few different startups before landing at Unqork.
How did you become interested in the tech space, and what did the transition into the industry look like for you?
Stephanie: My master’s program included web development, as well as user experience research and design. I really enjoyed the work that I did in that part of the program. I also had experience with some digital archiving, which involves a lot of technical knowledge of digital objects. Both of these experiences, in combination with my work as a taxonomist digitally cataloging web content, allowed me to utilize complex digital technologies that I found fascinating.
"There’s a level of abstraction and an ability to translate a concept to a visual language or to physical materials that’s shared between those who build buildings and those who build software." — Kat Stec, UX Designer
When I realized I was interested in software development, I decided to attend a coding bootcamp for women and non-binary people called the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy of Code. I was then hired at the Grace Hopper Program to work as a Teaching Fellow, helping to guide the next cohort of students.
Kat: Designing for computer interfaces has the advantage of speed, iteration, and user impact. With interiors, I was working on endlessly long projects with little room for testing and change, and a lot of room for tradition and ego. I became quite drained and uninspired by it all. Tech was the complete opposite, and that drew me in.
My design experience gave me a lot of transferable skills, so I was really focused on using my previous experience within the context of human-computer interaction. The UX community is extremely transparent, so most of my learning was self-taught, and I was able to fill in the gaps to carve out my own path.
Michael: A lot of my friends already in the tech space thought I would be good at UX, so I decided to explore it a bit more. UX really appealed to me because I would be able to see my design contributions come to life in a matter of days or weeks, as opposed to the years it takes to complete an architectural project. I fully transitioned into tech after completing a UX bootcamp.
Architects are trained generalists, but we have to be able to take a deep dive into a problem area when needed, which translated well to UX. Not only is there a lot of flexibility in terms of the different types of design work that exist on the UX spectrum, but there’s also the potential to be exposed to more diverse industries in tech than in architecture. These aspects were really attractive to me as a generalist—you could say that working in UX satisfies my hunger to learn about new things.
How did you find Unqork, and what stood out to you about the company as someone switching fields?
Stephanie: I found out about Unqork from my teaching fellow at the Grace Hopper program. I thought Unqork sounded like a good fit for me because of my work as a records manager. I had direct experience in a field that could greatly benefit from a tool like Unqork, because of the many manual processes involved at DORIS.
I wanted the opportunity to work on a truly innovative tool that could really help people by creating high-powered applications quickly. Unqork as a product is very relatable to many types of people—it definitely would have been a useful tool for me to have as an archivist, as a records manager, and as a librarian!
Kat: I was looking for opportunities to iterate and learn quickly, and work in a space where I could make a difference not only for users but also for my team. Unqork offers all of that. From my very first week, I faced really interesting design challenges, worked alongside a truly special team, and received all the support I needed to achieve my goals. I found team members with all sorts of backgrounds, some even like mine, who embrace the unknown. I've never been made to feel like my questions were foolish, my opinions were invalid, or my work unvalued.
We're charting the course for what no-code can do and what it can feel like. The platform and its ecosystem are so robust and so full of possibilities that I couldn't think of a better place to grow into the type of designer I want to be—an optimistic designer, and an explorer with empathy for our users and our team. I think especially now, that last part is most valuable to me.
Michael: I found Unqork through word of mouth and encouragement from a friend who currently works at Unqork. I had a very vague idea about what Unqork was and what no-code meant at first, but the promise, vision, and potential of it all drew me in.
How do your former career experiences shape and inform your work at Unqork? What unique perspectives and advantages do you think your background offers you?
Stephanie: My work in the Library and Information Sciences field definitely helped me grasp engineering concepts more quickly and logically sort through problems to come to a reasonable solution to an engineering problem. My Master’s degree also helped me think about how the user would interact with our product, which is a perspective typically supplied by our design team. It helps to have someone on the engineering team with this perspective because it shortens the process of identifying when and where we might want design's input.
Kat: Understanding the design process truly enables you to design anything, whether that's a chair, a house, or an app. You're solving the problems and needs of the user.
Even if the materials of what I was designing for changed—from thinking about inches and the properties of stone to pixels and devices—the process is the same, zooming in and out as you iterate and refine. I think it's why there are so many architects and designers moving into UX! There’s a level of abstraction and an ability to translate a concept to a visual language or to physical materials that’s shared between those who build buildings and those who build software.
"Do what brings you joy—it’s not always smooth, but it’s got to bring you joy. If it doesn’t, you might be in the wrong place." — Michael Lin, Lead UX Designer
Michael: Working in architecture means not just being a generalist but also being the mediator between many different parties with competing interests and priorities—clients, contractors, trades, specialists, vendors, and governmental bodies to name a few.
In tech, we move fast. At Unqork, we move faster! That means working through problems, facilitating conversations, and making difficult decisions happen often and at an accelerated pace. We celebrate successes, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward. The only way to journey through these cycles is with the whole team. My background in architecture has always put me in that collaborative mindset.
Looking back, do you have any advice for people interested in switching fields to enter tech?
Stephanie: The most important part of my journey into tech has been finding and fostering relationships with other individuals in the tech space whenever possible. The Grace Hopper Program provided a built-in community of people like me who are underrepresented in the tech field, but it was also really nice to attend tech conferences and meet-ups.
These meet-ups have a dual purpose of expanding your understanding of contemporary technical practices and innovations on our horizon, but also of providing a common ground to start up conversations with people. Networking, which is possibly the most valuable thing you can do when trying to branch into a new space, is always hard and this type of opportunity makes it a bit easier!
Kat: Go for it, don't wait. You'd be surprised by how much you already know, or how much of it feels familiar. I think for non-technical folks, tech can be intimidating—it definitely was for me, and it still is sometimes. But there are people out there designing these products to be more accessible and more approachable—and you can be one of those people!
Michael: Do what brings you joy—it’s not always smooth, but it’s got to bring you joy. If it doesn’t, you might be in the wrong place.
"When you work with people from diverse backgrounds, it creates a more creative and dynamic working environment. The work you do will be informed by many different viewpoints, which creates a stronger, more well-thought-out, and more innovative solution." — Stephanie Coy, Software Engineer
Last but not least, do you have anything to add about the value of having diverse experiences represented within a Product team?
Stephanie: When you work with people from diverse backgrounds, it creates a more creative and dynamic working environment. The work you do will be informed by many different viewpoints, which creates a stronger, more well-thought-out, and more innovative solution. It also provides the opportunity to bond with teammates by showing an interest in their past lives and referencing their alternate experiences when it might be relevant to a work task.
Michael: We can all use our diverse experiences to inform not just the digital products that we build in terms of accessibility and usability, but also the corporate culture we contribute to and the bonds we form.
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