From Designing Rockets to Websites

“If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on.”

‘What a huge display of engineering structures!’ Sam mentioned as we headed up in Sandusky’s famous GiantWheel at Cedar Point. It was a cold summer night of June 2012 and we were at the height of 145 feet with seagulls flying over Lake Erie on one side while a huge crowd looked like minions, on the other.

It was one of the decisive moments in my life, as I was making up my mind to choose the right career for myself. Sam Maxwell, who is a software engineer by profession and international student host by passion, used to take all of his local exchange students sightseeing. He would use technical jargon during our trips that constantly made me use Google as I got curious about engineering. He was able to explain everything technical in our surroundings very clearly. Who would have guessed that in the coming years, Sam would be tutoring me for my engineering assignments?

Inspiration comes in small packets and Sam proved to be a mega one! ✨

Sam Maxwell helping Yasha to Learn Coding
Sam Maxwell helping Yasha to learn Coding

Two years later, I found myself majoring in Electrical Engineering from my dream school (NUST). In my senior year, I found myself getting placed at my country's largest organization in the energy sector 😎. Working with installed silicon breathers, capacitor banks and weekly refilling of the lead-acid batteries in the storage room were my favorite things to do during the job (other than listening to creepy AC voltage noises in the grid yard). Fast forward to March 2020, USAID’s Sustainable Energy for Pakistan Project (SEP) selected me for their Women in Energy Sector Fellowship Program.

I also got a trainee engineer position in the Planning and Engineering Department (PED) of WAPDA. Things were going as anticipated when life took a sudden turn and a fatal pandemic took over the world. My work contract was canceled and in no time I was left with no options 😢.

Turing Tech employee Yasha at Headquarters of NASA during her fellowship
Yasha at Headquarters of NASA, United States

While surviving through this pandemic and idleness, I found myself at graduate school doing majoring in Aerospace Propulsion, and still trying to not give up my dream of becoming a rocket scientist 🚀. I absorbed myself in school and a few months into my thesis, my life took another surprising turn as I got approached by Asad Raza. A senior from my engineering school with whom I worked as an intern back in 2015. He was looking for a research writer for his company, Turing Tech. I, being a power engineer, was not confident enough in changing career paths to the software industry. So my initial hesitance about joining him was quite noticeable. Anyhow, I took a chance and went for the software job. Software industry is very fast-paced where innovations run the business. Taking up a new skill-set was something that was necessary. After four weeks in this job, I was placed as a software test engineer with additional training in UX design. With Mohsin as the lead, I learned user testing, regression testing, UX design reviews, and multiple testing tools. All these terms may sound very fancy but testing can be a very redundant job. You skip a mini bug and the entire feature gets stuck. Working as a software tester, made me realize how even a great developer can own loopholes in the code.

A meme showing the importance of quality testing in Tech industry

During my time as test engineer, I asked for additional placement in the design department. After eight weeks, I was placed in the design team. As my lead, Maryam introduced me to Figma's user flows, user journeys, and UX/UI website designing on XD. With almost six months here, I have been given wonderful exposure to the software world, esp. in product design.

Changing career paths from the energy sector to software was a 180-degree shift. Which was undoubtedly pushed forward by COVID-19. But staying in this field is a choice that I have made for myself and the reason is obvious: fast-paced career growth and a whole bunch of new skill-set. COVID-19 not only transformed our work lives but also made a huge boom in tech companies.

Ease in tech adoption during COVID-19 led software-based tech companies to do extraordinary well in the stock market. This led to investors racing against each other to invest in tech companies showing promise to scaling and becoming the next big thing. To illustrate how HubSpot's stock price increased from around $175 pre-pandemic to around $660 during COVID19, that's a gain of 377% in only 19 months.

Graph showing HubSpot's stock price increase pre-pandemic during COVID19
Graph illustrating HubSpot's stock price increased from around $175 pre-pandemic to around $660 during COVID19

According to Visual Capitalist, among the top 10th ranked global companies, 7 of them are technology-related including big names such as Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla. This is quite a different picture from 50 years ago when most of the leading companies were fossil fuel and automobile-based like General Motors and Exxon Mobil. So after a little motivation from Asad, I jumped on the bandwagon and accepted the job offer of Program Coordinator. In my role, I'd be directly working with engineering, design, and operations teams to keep things going. This would not only help me observe how a fast-paced startup works but also work with stakeholders to manage software releases and user onboarding.

It’s amazing how little connections play a huge impact in one’s life. My exchange experience in the United States helped me choose engineering. While my summer internships led me into the power sector. However, COVID-19 lockdown taught me that having a Plan B, or in worst cases taking up Plan X, Y, or even Z might end up being better than your Plan A.

When things didn't go as I planned, taking a new path only made me believe more in myself. Trying and experimenting with new things has always given me a better perspective on the larger picture. In the end, my approach towards new things can best be summarized by Sheryl Sandberg's quote:

“If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on.”
Work at Turing Tech to get world class mentorship from Silicon Valley


Press Release