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It’s a Chimed Life: Meet Nicolette Chambers

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“My journey has been interesting,” says Nicolette Chambers (she/her/hers) about her career. “I went to college to study English and felt I’d figure it out from there. While at UIUC, I decided to become a lawyer, which was the plan until the 2008–2009 recession hit. When I graduated, I did a variety of things, from photography to writing for a local newspaper and freelance writing. When writing opportunities dried up, I went and worked for Target for a few years. While there, I got motivated to figure out my career. I didn’t want to go back to school — to avoid debt — and a quick Google search revealed that tech could be an avenue to pursue.”

More searching led her to i.c. stars, a nonprofit organization in Chicago that offers immersive training to get people into the tech industry. She applied and went through the program in 2013, networking and ultimately meeting her next boss. “I was offered an internship and then a full-time role as a quality assurance analyst,” she says. “But I deeply wanted to be a software developer.”

So, she took a leave of absence, was awarded a scholarship to Dev Bootcamp, and returned as a software developer.

Turning her love of problem-solving into a career

“I’ve always loved solving problems — as a kid, I enjoyed creating efficiencies, like finding strategies to clean my room faster,” Nicolette says. “There’s a large emphasis in software engineering on solving problems, but to me, it’s also about writing elegant solutions. The code you write is often your legacy, so I use my English background to craft elegant solutions, always thinking about the best way to express myself through code.”

To those thinking about becoming software engineers, Nicolette’s number one piece of advice is to learn whether you like to code. “There are lots of free opportunities out there to see if you like solving those kinds of problems,” she says. “If you determine that you get joy and excitement from coding, it can make the decision to pursue a career in software engineering even easier.”

And just like she brings elegance to her solutions in coding, Nicolette recommends bringing softness to any career transition — especially one that involves some kind of boot camp. “Be kind to yourself,” she says. “There’s a lot of advice that says to hustle hard, and that’s true — you will have to work hard and put in a lot of energy. But the experience can be tough, so it’s important to be gentle with yourself in order to maintain your stamina and continue to find the joy in it.”

Finding a company and role aligned with her goals

Nicolette knew some people who worked at Chime, started looking into the company, and was struck by the articles she read about the individuals and team. “I was shocked, I even called my mom and friends and told them about Chime, how it’s doing awesome stuff and has a diverse team,” she says. “That I could even find articles like the ones I read showed thought and care, which was very different from other companies.”

Any time Nicolette has made a change in her career, she’s always tried to pursue roles within companies that do no harm. “They don’t have to be non-profit, but I look for organizations that amplify people’s lives in some way or another,” she says. “I chose to come to Chime because of how we serve our members and because it’s aligned with my personal and professional goals.”

As a Senior Software Engineer on the Account Access and Update team, Nicolette focuses on ensuring Chime members can easily log into their accounts and keep them up to date. “Our work is important because if a member can’t log in, they can’t do anything else with the app,” she says. Daily, Nicolette works on priority projects for the team, writing code, asking questions, and going to meetings.

Nicolette’s Chicago connection

Nicolette’s connection to Chime extends beyond her daily work and into her connection to Chicago. “I’m from the south side of Chicago, where my mom was the head of our household,” she says. “My mom worked hard to send me to amazing schools — sometimes at the cost of having cash flow for other things. I learned firsthand how important it is to have institutions like Chime that offer the services and products that other financial institutions don’t. As a proud Chicagoan, I’m proud to work for Chime in a city many of our members call home.”

Based on her experience, Nicolette cares deeply about the work she delivers. “I strive to deliver the highest quality of work — if we’re releasing something, I want to make sure it goes smoothly,” she says.

Reaping the rewards of her hard work

When she reflects on the past ten years she’s spent in the tech industry, Nicolette has learned the value of reaping the rewards of her hard work. “My early career as an engineer was filled with a lot of anxiety and stress — when I got out of Dev Bootcamp, a lot of my peers had classic computer science degrees and had been coding for years,” she says. “I would work over eight hours a day and then go home to take courses, read books, and watch videos. Many of my peers didn’t have to apply themselves so hard because they had a different path to tech.”

For the first time in a decade, Nicolette hasn’t had to do as much extra work, and she’s finally been able to reap the benefits of all the effort she put in over the years. “I feel really good and solid in myself, my abilities, and my work,” she says.

Her advice to those already in tech is to be supportive: “How you show up for someone early in their career can dictate so much about whether they stay in the industry, so try to have empathy for what people are going through,” she says.

To create a welcoming, supportive environment, Nicolette suggests companies create mentorship programs, invest in ERGs, and sponsor underrepresented populations within their organization to attend conferences and other opportunities.

We feel lucky to have Nicolette as part of our team and hope her career journey inspires you — to better support your colleagues or make a shift in your own career!