No reward without sacrifice

June 21, 2017

Life happens. That’s how Vanessa Farias, software engineer, put it when she hit setbacks in her career.

Early on, driven to gain as much experience as possible, she took every opportunity learn from every colleague and team she came across. Unfortunately, because she didn’t have a college degree, Vanessa hit roadblocks when she wanted to advance her career.  

Frustrated by these limitations, she fought even harder to put herself through college, graduating with a BA in Communication from the University of California San Diego. But achieving this was not without its challenges either. She tragically lost a childhood friend to murder and subsequently lost her grandfather–whom she had dedicated her college education to. She felt compelled to honor them both by accomplishing something they were never able to–receive a degree.

She spent some time working in media and marketing again after college and, shortly thereafter, hit another obstacle. Along with hundreds of other colleagues, she found herself on the chopping block for lay-offs. Again, not letting this deter her, she went back to school while looking for full-time work. Applying for several jobs, Vanessa found that her degree wasn’t enough. The employers she met with seemed to gravitate towards technical skills. Which is what triggered her to pursue learning web development.

“I started watching videos, reading documentation and studying until the early hours of the morning. But I soon realized that to truly ‘learn’ and apply what I was learning in a more productive way and see results, I had to take a course.” She said. So she started taking evening courses in Python, juggling classes with her job, commuting from Palo Alto to San Francisco during the week and on weekends.

One day a Women Who Code newsletter posted a scholarship announcement for General Assembly’s 12-week Web Development program in San Francisco. The program entailed rigorous building of full-stack applications that included HTML, CSS, JavaScript,  jQuery, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Node and much more. Knowing this was the next move for her, she said a prayer, and quit her job before she had even been accepted.

“I felt a solid pull to truly invest in my learning. After applying and going through the interview process, I soon found out that I was accepted into General Assembly.” When she found out that she was accepted into the program, and with a full scholarship funded by Adobe as part of our Digital Academy initiative, Vanessa couldn’t help but get emotional.

“I was so stunned. I had initially contacted General Assembly and they told me it was very competitive. I realized I had to be really honest in terms of my background and what challenges I had in order to show that I really wanted it. In my teens, I did not have a permanent home and lacked support, stability, and guidance to navigate. It was hard to share this in my application to General Assembly but I wanted them to know that I was ambitious, humble and committed.”

During the 12-week program, Vanessa never missed a day. She spent full days in a bootcamp setting, where she built applications on a daily basis. “It was exhausting but exciting. It was like drinking water out of a firehose. Like any other program there were highs and lows but it was so worth it,” She said.

As part of the Adobe Digital Academy, Vanessa and her peers in the program would be considered for an internship at Adobe. She soon found herself interning for the Lightroom Web team, where she applied her newfound knowledge, networked, and learned as much as she could. And her manager took notice. Since January 2017, Vanessa has been a full-fledged member of Lightroom Web team.

When asked if the Digital Academy was beneficial to her development, Vanessa was quick to answer “Absolutely! Adobe Digital and the LrW team supported me the whole way and gave me an opportunity to work towards a role at Adobe and that is invaluable!” She recognizes, despite and in spite of adversity, how fortunate she is and continues to find ways to reach back and pull others forward.

Today, Vanessa is a mentor, ambassador and volunteer for Adobe Digital Academy events and panels. “If you want to pursue a career in web development with the Adobe Digital Academy and you can cope with the workload and the sacrifices you have to make, I say do it—it’s worth it. Just remember that learning doesn’t stop there. You have to continue to grow. When you win, everyone wins. Honor that role with gratitude.”

And for those ready to apply for open positions at Adobe today, “This is the place to advance your career. Everyone at Adobe really wants the customer to succeed and as a former user, I love that. Equally, I know that my manager wants me to be happy and he supports my need to continue to learn internally and externally. I love coming to work and I never feel like I have to leave my ‘self’ at the door; in fact, my creativity and perspective is always welcomed. And if you feel you want to explore other opportunities at Adobe, you definitely can. Overall, what makes Adobe a rewarding experience is the people…You’ll know what I mean when you get here.”

Inspired to join our teams or apply to the Adobe Digital Academy? Check out the career site and ADA homepage

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Brilliant. Truely unbelievable. The experience is so motivating and inspiring. I have personally faced this happening to me everyday. I am a working professional and have worked in multiple software firms and still facing difficult challenges everyday, while stepping up the ladder.
Hats off. Thanks for sharing. Its really acts as a motivation for me personally.


Deepali – I feel fortunate to be in a place that I can inspire others facing similar challenges. Thank you for your kind words and thank you for having the courage not to give up! There will always be someone that ‘you’ can inspire and will need to be pulled forward, following your footsteps. Keep at it!