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Career Stories

From a Biology Degree to Working in Fintech: How This Software Engineer Found a Career She Loves

person with long brown hair standing in front of a wall of plants
Melissa Bromley, a senior software engineer at Clover.
| Courtesy of Clover

As she entered her senior year at UC Berkeley, Melissa Bromley assumed her future career would follow her major—molecular and cell biology. But an introductory course in computer science she took that year set the stage for her eventual path as a software engineer. “I quickly discovered that it was my favorite course,” she says.

Outside of class, Bromley taught herself additional computer programming skills and dug more into the field. That experience convinced her that she was meant to work in tech. She went on to earn a master’s degree in computer software engineering and then to work for fintech startup Clover, where she’s been an engineer for over four years.

Here, Bromley talks about being laser focused on your goals, keeping a positive attitude, and what she loves about being a software engineer.

What attracted you to work in software engineering, and specifically at Clover?

I love the hands-on and practical nature of software engineering. In particular, I really enjoy that my career enables me to design and build tangible solutions for real-life problems. When interviewing at Clover, I was impressed by the hardware and software solutions that the company had built, and I felt that the company had the potential to truly make an impact for small businesses. This was one of the major factors that attracted me to work at Clover.

Another aspect was the company culture. Clover still has a fairly small company environment, which means that every engineer has the opportunity to make a significant contribution. As a younger engineer, this was very exciting to me.

What are you responsible for in your role?

As a software engineer on the payments team, I am responsible for developing new features, fixing bugs, and implementing improvements for Clover’s point of sale system. In addition, I help provide design guidance for different projects, attend meetings with stakeholders, and mentor new and junior engineers.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

There are a lot of projects going on right now that really excite me. One project I am working on that I am particularly passionate about involves building a new data pipeline to integrate different components within the Clover system. I am excited about this project because I get to learn new tools and technologies that I haven’t previously worked with before. This is challenging and a bit daunting, but I love that I’ve been able to get my hands dirty and build something new.

You started at Clover just a few years after graduating from college. How does the company help nurture and develop junior talent?

Clover provides a very challenging but supportive environment for its engineers. As an engineer at Clover, you are constantly encouraged to grow and step outside of your comfort zone—whether that means taking on a new project or picking up a new technology or skill. At the same time, the environment is also very supportive. People here understand that learning takes time, and everyone is willing to help out one another. This makes it a great place for junior engineers to learn and grow.

What is the company culture like?

The company culture at Clover is very open and collaborative. Whenever I have a question or want to discuss something with a coworker, I always find it very easy to just go up to that person (or send them a message on Slack) and they are willing to set aside their own time in order to help. Everyone I have worked with here is really welcoming and committed to helping one another to succeed.

Clover also highly values diversity. For example, we have a very active Women in Tech program that hosts events and presentations every month. It definitely makes me feel more at home to be able to meet and share experiences with other women in the company.

What traits and skills does a software engineer need to succeed at Clover?

Curiosity, drive, and being willing to take initiative are all extremely valuable traits to have at Clover. We really value people who are willing to tackle challenging issues head-on, and who are able to come up with creative solutions to problems. Strong communication skills and being a great team player are also very important.

What has been the key to your success working in an industry where women are often underrepresented?

I would say the key to my success has just been to work hard and stay focused and committed to my goals, even during times when I haven’t felt 100% confident in myself. As a woman in tech, there may be times when you doubt yourself or wonder if you are qualified enough to take on certain challenges. In these times, I have found it is important to just go for it. As long as you work hard and keep a positive attitude, you will be able to succeed at whatever you set out to do.

What advice do you have for young women looking to follow a similar career path as yours?

Don’t be afraid to follow your passions! Take the time to explore what really interests and excites you. Once you have a goal in mind, plan out a path and keep working toward it. And don’t be discouraged by any small setbacks along the way. As long as you are always learning and evolving, you will be able to keep moving forward.