I recently became the longest tenured employee at Agrilyst (besides our indomitable Founder & CEO Allison Kopf!) and it had me thinking about my role at the company — why I originally wanted to work here and what I’ve enjoyed the most.
One thing I really appreciate about working in tech is that the tech industry bleeds into a huge variety of other industries. Everybody needs applications which means engineers have the opportunity to work on all sorts of things, from non-profits to the education industry to, in my case, the agriculture industry! This is a huge opportunity for programmers like me, because I’ve had the chance to pick something to work on that I’m genuinely interested in and that I actually think is doing good in the world.
When I first started at Agrilyst, the only thing I really knew about plants was that I thought they were really neat! I was excited to learn more about plants and hydroponics, but more than that, I felt deeply satisfied knowing I was going to work on something important. Food is at the absolute core of our society. Everybody needs to eat and everybody relies on the earth, so being involved with a company that understood the value of feeding people sustainably and preserving our environment just felt like the right thing to do.
Codifying our core values was important, but for me it was more literal and tangible —we were taking the time to write down a list of ideas that already guided how we conducted ourselves. That said, I do have a favorite: “We think consciously before making decisions.” Ethical concerns are extremely important in tech and being thoughtful about the difference between what we can build and what we should build as programmers and engineers is important to me. Deciding as a company that we want to face those ethical concerns head on is a good start. Actually doing so is even better and I’m happy and relieved to be part of a company that values that. We are currently in the process of drafting a code of conduct to formalize many of our thoughts on that and being able to be part of that process has been valuable and rewarding for me.
While that may be my personal favorite value, there’s another that affects my life more on a day to day basis and that is “We respect each other.” Respect is the basis of any healthy relationship, and unfortunately, as a transgender person, it’s not something I always get. For me, being respected means being seen for who I really am. It means being thoughtful about how your words affect me and respecting my pronouns. It means being supportive of my transition and understanding the difficulties that are involved. I have felt nothing but respect from my colleagues at Agrilyst. Being able to bring my whole self to work every day is a privilege that not everyone has and which I can’t take for granted.
My dream as a programmer is to use my skills to do something that matters to me and be treated as a valued member of the team while I’m doing it. And I have that at Agrilyst. What more can I ask for?