A senior developer's advice on how to grow your tech career
One of Pooja Khardori's defining traits—and something that has moved her career forward—is that she's a lifelong learner. During her early education in India, she learned basic computer languages in her school's computer class. As she moved through school and learned more complex things, she felt inspired to take more advanced courses as an undergraduate student.
“I learned C++ for two years and fell in love with software development. That's when I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering in IT," she says. "And one of the things I love most about working at Leidos is the various avenues and support toward our continuous learning and development."
Pooja has made good use of the in-house training Leidos provides as well as the partnerships with other training resources, like Udacity. Already a senior developer, Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified Product Owner (CSPO), and Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP5), Pooja is now pursuing a Udacity nanodegree to hone her frontend skills. She also spends her upskilling time preparing for her AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification. It comes as no surprise when she says that her best advice for people in her field who want to move their careers forward is to continually upskill.
“Make sure you keep your skills updated and learn new things whenever possible," she says. “It's also crucial to ask questions. There's no such thing as a dumb question. Asking questions helps you get better informed and shows you're engaged in what you're doing." That's why she encourages questions and dialogue among her team as she guides their sprints and helps them overcome obstacles. She also recommends they use the training and upskilling resources that Leidos provides to its employees.
"In the current Agile world, the easy access to development resources at Leidos makes continuous improvement possible," she says. Another factor that Pooja says makes Leidos an employer of choice for senior developers and Scrum Masters is the Gigs program. "Gigs are short-term opportunities across Leidos that allow developers to learn and practice a new technology while also earning some extra money."
Beyond her shared value of learning, Pooja has also appreciated the quality of her work/life blend during her six years with Leidos. Besides her work, Pooja enjoys taking time to paint and travel. At times, though, the ability to balance her work/life blend has been more than a nice-to-have. Shortly after joining Leidos, Pooja entered a difficult time in her life.
“I had to go back to India two times during a span of five months for a family emergency, and my leaders were more than supportive. For me, their support during such a difficult time spoke a lot of their values," she says. Pooja maintained and met her project deadlines despite these challenges, staying true to her pride in being on time. In a way, Pooja's sense of punctuality has acted as another force driving her career forward.
“I have almost always been able to keep my promises to deliver code on time," she says. “My need to be on time helps me look forward and plan things to make sure I stay on target, even when I am juggling multiple responsibilities." In her roles at Leidos as both a Scrum Master and senior developer, that's essential. Thanks to her dedication to timely progress, Pooja earned NIH's eRA Developer Award in 2017 for quality and timeliness of deliverables—one of several awards that sit on her shelf.
“It's satisfying to see how the features and applications we develop can impact and empower people to do their jobs in a better and more efficient manner," Pooja says. "At Leidos, people in my role, especially Scrum Masters, can be a true partner to the product owner. Their opinions are heard and discussed, and they achieve goals together."
Pooja has played instrumental roles in delivering quality products that have been well-utilized and much appreciated by clients. We value her stellar work output, as well as the full spectrum of her experience, both personal and professional.
Leidos aims to foster a welcoming environment where employees from diverse backgrounds can share their perspectives and experiences. When workforce diversity is valued, our teams improve their performance, and our organization enjoys more innovation and better results. Leidos continues building and supporting its diverse workforce by hosting virtual hiring and collaboration events for systems engineers, software engineers, network engineers, cyber professionals, project managers, and more.