BriteBytes: Nam-Chi Van

An Eventbrite original series, BriteBytes features interviews with Eventbrite’s growing global engineering team, shining a light on the individuals whose jobs are to build the technology that powers live experiences.

Nam-Chi Van is a Senior Software Engineer who works out of Eventbrite’s San Francisco office. She has been a part of the Eventbrite team for 6 years; writing code while taking photos of skateboarders on the side. In this interview, she tells us about a critical point in her career and why she loves working at Eventbrite.

Delaine Wendling:What brought you to Eventbrite and engineering?

Nam-Chi Van: Well, I went to art school for web design and interactive media. My first job after school was with a web agency based out of San Diego. While I was there, a recruiter from Eventbrite reached out to me. They flew me to San Francisco to visit the office, and I was blown away. The agency in San Diego was business casual, and Eventbrite was a more casual environment where I felt like I could be myself. My first role at Eventbrite was as a content developer. I worked on building WordPress themes and hacking together landing pages like this one. Technically, I was on the engineering team, but I wasn’t doing anything super heavy.

At the time, I was also doing a lot of photography on the side. I would take time off and go to events like the X Games to photograph skateboarders. It didn’t take long for me to get burned out on this schedule so I sat down with my manager to figure out my life. I told him I didn’t love what I was doing at Eventbrite and was thinking about maybe pursuing photography full time. If I was going to stay at Eventbrite, I wanted to move into a more traditional engineering role so that I would be challenged. He helped me talk through my options and made an offer for me to move into a more challenging engineering role. I decided to take it and have been really happy with my decision. I still do photography on the side but not as intensely.

Samarria Brevard, Street League 2017

D: What has kept you at Eventbrite?

N: I love that I’m surrounded by a lot of smart and supportive people. When I first switched into a more traditional engineering role, I had a lot of impostor syndrome. My teammates were amazing though and never made me feel like I couldn’t do the work. They encouraged me and helped me learn the things I needed to learn. I love being in a supportive environment like that. Eventbrite offers a lot of opportunity for growth and working with new technologies, so I don’t feel like I’ll ever get bored. I also love working at a place that encourages me to be my authentic self.

D: What project has been your favorite at Eventbrite? What made it so great?

N: Eventbrite used to have some ugly landing pages, like the career listings page, about page, etc. During a hackathon at Eventbrite, a coworker and I decided to redesign all of those pages. I took a lot of photos to make these pages more welcoming and reflective of the Eventbrite culture. Many of these pages are still being used today, like the about page.

I enjoyed this project so much because it made a real impact on the company and was something I came up with on my own. I was also able to use my photography skills for the project, which was fun.

D: What is the most complex problem you have had to solve recently?

N: I guess I haven’t actually solved this problem, but tech debt is probably the most complex problem I’ve had to face. It’s something that’s always on my mind and can feel overwhelming. We are constantly trying to find a balance between writing code that is reusable and extensible and meeting deadlines. It’s a difficult balance to find and something I will continue to try to improve.

D: Do you have a role model? Who is it and why are they your role model?

N: Yeah, my mom. She is an amazing woman who taught me the importance of being myself and being independent. I wanted to skateboard when I was younger, but there weren’t a lot of girls doing that. My mom didn’t care and encouraged me to do it anyway. She said I could do anything I put my mind to.

D: What advice would you give a new female engineer starting?

N: Have confidence in yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, learn constantly, challenge yourself, and keep going. You’ve got this.

DW: And, just because it’s fun: If you were a wrestler, what would be your theme song?

N: (laughs) Hmmm…probably some heavy metal Megadeth song. It would need to have something with a super heavy guitar riff.

Congratulations to Nam-Chi for her recent promotion to Senior Software Engineer! We are thankful to have her on the team. How has your experience been in the engineering world? Who inspires you? Share your comments with us, we would love to get to know you.