Software Engineer June Kang Shares the Path That Led Her to Ribbon Health
Growing up in Korea, I always felt a pull towards the healthcare industry. Many of my relatives including my dad were doctors, and I was inspired by the impact they had on their patients. While medical school ultimately wasn’t the right path for me, I am grateful that I was able to find another path to contribute to the healthcare industry.
As a freshman at University of Pennsylvania, I was fully confident that I would graduate from the engineering school as a biomedical engineering major, and head straight to medical school. However, I realized in the first year that the BME curriculum was not entirely what I had imagined, and started exploring courses for other engineering majors.
By the end of sophomore year, I officially declared my major in computer science and minor in data science the following year. However, it wasn’t until junior year that I really experienced a moment that solidified my passion for computer science. There was one particular required CS course in which the final project was to build a simplified version of Facebook. Rather than the usual CS assignments that leave little room for imagination, this final project was an opportunity for my teammates and I to take ownership of the implementation from start to finish – designing the database schema to fullstack development, and even adding our not-so-professional but good-hearted efforts on design components. Seeing the fruits of our labor come together with a clear user-facing product really shifted my perspective on software engineering.
Turning a Newfound Passion Into Experience
Even with this newfound passion, I’d be lying if I said that I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my computer science degree, especially because I originally had the dream of becoming a doctor for most of my life. It felt a little like I was at square one, but fortunately, I got an incredible opportunity to intern at an early stage startup in Korea during the summer after sophomore year. Being a part of a company of just over ten people, I learned from this first internship that I really enjoyed working on a smaller team, and loved the opportunity to work on various projects without a repetitive workflow. From this experience, I also learned that what I was missing from this internship was a greater motivation behind the work, or “mission”. With these learnings in the back of my mind, I entered into the dreaded junior summer intern search.
What I really appreciated most about Ribbon’s interview process, was that unlike any other company, they gave a thoughtful technical interview that was highly relevant to the actual work being done by the engineering team. Especially after a long chain of interviews with other companies that were essentially supervised LeetCode exercises with interviewers that seemed distant, the energy of meeting so many Ribbon team members and getting to know the company on a more personal level made it the best interview experience I had had so far. After accepting the internship, within the first few days, I realized that Ribbon’s interview process had unknowingly been a perfect stepping stone for a successful onboarding, as I had already seen and explored the type of data that we were working with. Summer of 2019 with Ribbon really flew by.
Prioritizing Opportunity for Growth, Technical Development, and a Mission-Driven Organization
Through these two internships, I had a good sense of what I wanted next for my career development. I also strongly believed that the immediate years of experience as a new grad engineer would shape the kind of engineer that I’d become in the long term. Post graduation, I wanted to join an engineering team that was aligned with my mentality and encouraged growth through open and frequent feedback. In terms of technical development, I also wanted a job where I could find diversity and ownership in the types of projects that I’d be able to work on. When I pieced together the different components of my idea of a dream job, I realized that the best next career decision was right there in my hands- to return to Ribbon as a full-time engineer.
It has been almost two years since I’ve joined Ribbon as a full-time engineer, and there are so many things that I love about working on this team. I am truly grateful that I get to work with such a smart and motivated group of co-workers, and love that no matter how quickly we grow as a company, preservation of the wonderful culture will always be a top priority. It is not often that one gets the chance to be part of an engineering team that is so highly mission driven and oriented towards a North star goal, and I can confidently say that Ribbon continues to live its values.
What It’s Like to Work on Ribbon’s Engineering Team
When I first joined Ribbon, I started off in the data acquisition pod, and over time I have slowly transitioned into the API and distribution pod, where I am now. As a platform pod engineer, one project that I’ve really enjoyed working on is a user interface that will allow our non-technical users to gain the same value from our API as those more familiar with API logic. When I joined this pod, this interface was in early stages of development with minimum functionality, and was mostly only used by the go-to-market team for demo purposes. I got to work closely with our product manager and frontend designer to add new features and help bring the feature to a customer-ready state. When we finally launched the product with our first customer, it was an extremely exciting time for our team, because we got to hear live feedback from their early users and iterate on feature development for an even better user experience. Because of the quick rollout velocity and immediate customer feedback, this was definitely one of the more dynamic projects that I have worked on, and continue to work on.
One project that I’m currently working on with other platform pod engineers is a perfect example of our team’s embodiment of communication and feedback. One of the most unique things about Ribbon is the feedback culture, and that includes the open and honest conversations that I have with my manager and teammates to find the opportunity to be involved with projects that are aligned with my interests and development goals. I’ve been working on a project to develop a new kind of distribution pipeline for partner data management. This is one of the largest and most complex projects I’ve worked on so far, and it has been exciting to see initial conversations in product roadmap meetings evolve to technical specs, and now see the actual implementation phase. Our team’s product manager deserves a lot of credit for opening up channels for engineers to be involved in the early stages of product development and conversations. This close alignment between different teams and communication within our pod is an essential part of how we work together to power every healthcare decision to be convenient, cost-effective, and high-quality.
We are hiring for roles across the Engineering team, and would love for you to join us!