A senior developer's take on why Leidos is the best place for women in tech
Snigdha Madhavaram remembers getting started in computer science purely so she could create something that she'd want to use. Now a full-stack software developer at Leidos, Snigdha notes that being able to personally create a tool you need is just one of the reasons why more women should enter her field.
“Information technology (IT) is one of the best-paying fields," she says, also noting that her field seems to offer infinite career paths. For instance, there's user experience (UX) for people who want to use their creativity. There are also management and business analyst opportunities. “And women always seem to make the best testers," she says.
Not only does tech offer seemingly endless career paths, but also a variety of industries and domains in which to work. Snigdha, for instance, has previously worked in both the finance and healthcare fields.
“This skill set can help you break into any industry. So I was surprised when, in my classes and early in my career before I got to Leidos, I noticed that hardly any women were in my field," Snigdha says.
“From my experience, the gender gap in my field comes from women feeling like there's no place for them. They're concerned that they won't fit in with the majority-male field and that tech careers don't offer work/life balance," Snigdha says. She, herself, had felt that way in the past.
“But at Leidos I've seen the most women in this field in my life. That's probably because there's a good balance that's supportive of many different types of people with different situations," says Snigdha. She adds, “Leidos is very inclusive and supportive, especially of women and other cultures. I've never felt out of place and I feel very secure."
After earning her Master's degree in Computer Science, Snigdha gained more experience through volunteering. She also practiced her skills by working on personal projects.
“Developers must gain experience by investing time in their own projects to help them learn," she says. “I'd have been lost without doing that. I continued to do it even after getting my first job." Her first job exposed her to exciting projects like NYC's checkbook system, but her dreams took her further.
“It was always my goal to work at a company like Leidos, but I thought it was impossible—that they wouldn't hire me because I didn't have security clearance," Snigdha says. Still, she gave it a try when she heard about an open position at Leidos that seemed to match her skill set.
To her surprise, Snigdha landed the job and started at Leidos as a junior software developer primarily working on the backend. Since then, she has also been trained on the frontend, earning a promotion to full-stack software developer.
“My mentor helped guide me on how to develop and learn, and Leidos offers so many training programs. Right now, I'm interested in the leadership courses," she says, noting that Leidos also helped connect her to a Udacity nanodegree program.
“I'm proud to be included here—at a place that helps you grow your career and explore many opportunities. There's even a system that matches employees to side projects that would interest them and grow their skills," Snigdha says, also sharing that, when she felt curious about other domains, she was encouraged to pursue them within Leidos.
She recommends that anyone wanting to grow their career set specific goals for their learning and development, mapping out what they want to achieve. It may also help, she says, to ask your manager for constructive feedback. Take it positively and seek advice on how to pursue improvements.
“Tech is constantly evolving, so keep up the hard work and learning," she says. “Don't get married to one type of technology and then feel scared to dip your toe in others. I'm grateful to have gotten to work with many technologies." Her advice specific to women who are considering her field or are early in their careers is not to opt out early: “There are flexible and remote opportunities—more than ever before."
Snigdha is most proud of being part of the NIH eRA program—an opportunity she says that she couldn't have gotten without joining Leidos. “During COVID-19, we have worked on a standalone app to support COVID-related grant research. I'm a developer, and my work impacts so many people."
If you're interested in learning more about Leidos and joining our teams, we invite you to register for our virtual hiring and Collaboration Events. Our aim is to connect with diverse systems engineers, software engineers, network engineers, cyber professionals, project managers, and more. This helps us further our goal of fostering a welcoming environment in which employees from diverse backgrounds can share various perspectives and experiences.