Let Your Curiosity Lead You

with Eden Alder

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
My name is Eden Adler, I’m from Michigan, USA, and I’m a neuroscientist turned software engineer, currently working at an insurtech startup, Lemonade, as a backend engineer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been passionate, curious, driven, and a challenge seeker. Which is what led me to be pre-med and pursue my B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. It wasn’t until I started the process of applying to medical schools that I had to reflect on why I want to be a doctor. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this wasn’t what I truly wanted. So I made the brave decision to listen to my heart and pivot my career towards the unknown. Forgoing medical school, I moved halfway around the world to Tel Aviv, enrolled in a 5-month coding bootcamp, and found my place in tech.

Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
Well, I thought I did… For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a doctor. When it came time to apply for college, my family and others around me suggested that I apply to engineering schools. They thought it’d be a good fit for me. I remember seriously considering it at the time. My main reason for ultimately deciding against it was because I’d be busy enough as a pre-med student, I thought it’d be overkill to do engineering on top of that. But now, looking back, I think part of me didn’t really think of pursuing engineering because I barely saw any women around me doing that, and as the saying goes, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

Were you scared to start the process?
I was terrified but also excited. I’ve been curious about programming since I was young and saw my brother teaching himself C++. So I was ready to finally learn what programming is all about.

What’s it like to be a software engineer?
Honestly, forget everything you thought you knew about being a software engineer. If you love learning, challenges, being creative, building things that reach millions of people worldwide, having the power to create things from scratch, and contributing to any discipline out there, this is for you. It’s having empathy for users, scaling your impact, and learning and growing along the way.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
Don’t let the bullies get to you. They have their own problems and insecurities, don’t let them become yours. Stay true to who you are and don’t care what other people think. Don’t be afraid to be different. When you’re an adult you’ll realize that people are actually celebrated for what makes them unique.

Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
When I started my first job as a software developer, I was the only woman on the engineering team. I was also the youngest, the least experienced (by far), and the only foreigner on the team. I’m not going to lie, I really struggled at first. I had to fight off “imposter syndrome,” work in a second language, and try to fit in with a foreign culture. All while working at a fast-paced startup. It was a lot to handle all at once. Luckily, I’m someone who loves a good challenge, so even the hardest days would teach me new things, and I used that as fuel to keep pushing myself forward. I also found great mentors who helped lift and guide me along the way.

What’s something no one really knows about you?
I’m a pretty adventurous person and always looking for a good challenge. I once joined a bike trip with 9 other strangers. Carrying everything on our bikes, we biked from Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA. I even had to hitchhike at one point after a flat tire incident. Another time I wanted to improve my sailing skills. I spent a month on a 30 ft. sailboat with 12 other like-minded strangers. We learned to sail, got our flotilla skipper’s licenses, and sailed from St. Maarten to Trinidad.

What are your biggest passions?
Wow. So many things. I’m passionate about making software engineering more approachable and relatable to the rest of the world. I’m a deep believer in the Design Thinking methodology. I’m passionate about exposing more women and girls to tech and celebrating the inspiring women around me. I also love cooking, playing all kinds of sports, DIY-ing, and traveling.

What message do you think every woman should hear?
Let your curiosity lead you to where you’re meant to be. And don’t let stereotypes prevent you from pursuing the career you might be destined for. If you don’t see any role models doing what you’re passionate about, go after it, and be that role model for someone else.

Be brave, be curious, be yourself.

You belong.

What motivates you most?
A few of my close friends have recently decided to also pivot their careers into tech and are now working as software engineers. There’s no better feeling than knowing that the energy you put out into the world is being received and inspiring those around you.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I’m always seeking out new challenges, and pushing myself to try new things. This year, for example, I created my own personal website (from scratch), published my first technical blog post on FreeCodeCamp, started “What the Tech”, an Instagram account to teach people about tech, and organized a hackathon for over 100 people. These are all things I had been wanting to do for a few years. A great quote that has helped push me forward is, “Done is better than perfect” (Sheryl Sandberg). Once I finally let go of the need for perfection, I accomplished so much more and have grown immensely.

What do you love most about yourself?
Is it weird to say my brain? I love it’s wild creativity, it’s ability to deeply empathize with people around me, it’s curiosity, and it’s seemingly unlimited capacity to learn.

Where do you find inspiration?
Through Women of Startup Nation I have the privilege of talking to and interviewing really accomplished women. I’ve learned so much from hearing their stories and experiences. I admire their strength, resilience, drive, and passion, and look up to them as role models.

edenalder3

eden adler

A neuroscientist turned software engineer, Eden Adler is passionate about getting more women into tech and bridging the gap between software engineers and the rest of the world.

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