LGBTQ+ Advocacy In & For Tech Alumni Panel


Codesmith strives to diversify the tech space and foster leadership, innovation, and advocacy in spaces that allow graduates to succeed professionally. We sit down with LGBTQ+ Codesmith Alums and discuss their stories of career revelations, challenges, and wins while also learning about a few tech companies that are pushing the movement forward for the LGBTQ+ community.

Meet the Panelists:

Andrew Rehrig
Ash Wellness, Full Stack Engineer
Previously a professional Flutist for 18 years, Andrew Rehrig’s performances include Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, 30 Rock, Mozart in the Jungle, and other national and international appearances. After deciding to make a move into the Software Engineering space, Rehrig graduated Codesmith from the NY Software Engineering Immersive program in early 2021 and currently works as a Full Stack Engineer at Ash Wellness. Ash Wellness is a modern diagnostics company reimagining the future of at-home care. Andrew Rehrig still plays the flute!

Julia Collins
Rainmaker Games, Lead Frontend Engineer
Julia graduated from Codesmith back in 2020 from the Part-Time Remote Software Engineering Immersive program and has gone on to work at several companies in a range of Software Engineering roles. Collins has recently started a new position as a Lead Frontend Engineer at Rainmaker Games, a company in the Web3 gaming space. Julia works remotely from a 10-acre hobby farm in Oregon!

Kailee Pedersen
Twitch, Software Engineer
Kailee is a graduate of the Part-Time Remote Software Engineering Immersive program and is currently a Software Engineer at Twitch, where she works on the frontend with React, TypeScript, and GraphQL. She is also passionate about accessibility and continues to advocate for accessibility as an engineer. Previously she was a technical recruiter for various startups. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, playing video games, and singing opera.

Wirapa (May) Boonyasurat
Recent Codesmith Gradute & Software Engineer
Wirapa was born and raised in Thailand where they were previously a piano player before moving to Seattle and enrolling in Codesmith’s Los Angeles Software Engineering Immersive program this year. Wirapa is a full-stack software engineer who loves problem-solving and using their passion to build something that can help make meaningful products. They are also an active contributor to SeeQR, an open-sourced database analytic tool using Typescript, Javascript, Electron and React.

0:00 – Introductions
5:57 Does your company offer resources for LGBTQ+ employees?
9:44 How has being part of the LGBTQ+ community made an impact on the work that you do?
11:51 What tips do you have for fostering inclusivity in your workplace?
14:21 Has your queerness come up during job interviews and do you feel like it helped or hindered you?
16:56 Have you ever felt you needed to adjust your voice or codeswitch to fit in in tech?
22:22 Do you have any tips on navigating the process of coming out in a professional setting?
25:29 What tips do you have for determining a company’s culture during the interview process?
30:56 Having mentors and colleagues who support you as an LGBTQ+ person is important, how have you found your footing and built mentoring relationships?
33:51 Who is your LGBTQ+ role model in the tech space?
37:55 What is the best way to advocate for your values, beliefs and the LGBTQ+ community?
41:39 How do you handle imposter syndrome as a queer individual at your company?
47:39 Have you ever joined a company that appeared to value inclusivity but then once you were hired it was different?
51:00 What suggestions do you have for advocating for other LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace?
55:25 What does Pride mean to you and how are you celebrating?

Codesmith’s Resources for LGBTQ+ Applicants & Students

1. LGBTQ+ Scholarship: Codesmith’s scholarship fund provides scholarships to members of the LGBTQ+ community, in hopes we can build a more open and inviting space.
2. Mentorship Program: Our Minorities in Tech Mentorship supports aspiring engineers from underrepresented backgrounds in the tech industry as they prepare for Codesmith’s Immersive
3. Lesbians Who Tech Partnership: The Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship, in partnership with Lesbians Who Tech, is open to queer and non-binary coders, and funds 50% of the Immersive program’s tuition. Learn more here: https://lesbianswhotech.org/codingscholarship/
4. Learn more about Inclusion & Diversity at Codesmith: https://www.codesmith.io/inclusivity-diversity

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