Career stories: Dream big and work hard
February 7, 2022
Originally from South India, Mounika relocated from our parent company in Seattle, Washington to Sunnyvale, California, to help improve LinkedIn’s business platform as a backend engineer. She shares how her female engineering mentors here have been an invaluable support system amidst her transition, and how she’s paying it forward to the next generation of female technologists.
My career journey started in my childhood — during my upbringing in Miryalaguda, South India, my parents, a civil engineer and a biology teacher, always taught me to dream big and work hard.
From South India to the Midwest to the West Coast
That’s why, after earning my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, in India, I chose to go straight into a master’s program in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota Duluth. During that time, I realized how much I love teaching and, ever since, have pursued opportunities that would allow me to build both my technical skills and support the growth of others.
After graduating, I moved to Seattle and took an engineering role at Microsoft, focused on cloud and artificial-intelligence (AI) solutions. After four great years, I was ready for a new challenge. Even though I was already interviewing for other roles, a friend from grad school mentioned our daughter company, LinkedIn. Once I connected with a recruiter, I knew I had to pursue it.
The opportunity to join LinkedIn as a backend applications engineer stood out in a few key ways. Even though I followed the same steps as any other candidate, LinkedIn made the process seamless, smooth, and quick. First, I learned that I would have three to four levels of female managers on my team. More than anything, though, I’ve always been a fan of LinkedIn and saw this role as my chance to work on a product that people really love to use.
Bringing enterprise automation to sales
At LinkedIn, I work on our business platform team — which is focused on the ordering and selling experience for enterprise-level customers. For these larger companies, managing and ordering LinkedIn products (e.g., Recruiter, Sales Navigator, LinkedIn Learning seats) as well as managing hundreds of job and marketing ads for sometimes 10,000+ or 100,000+ employees can be incredibly daunting. To support this, the ordering and selling experience team has almost 50 engineers who work on designing and building our enterprise platform that powers our commerce ecosystem, which brings in billions of dollars in revenue per year to LinkedIn.
During my time here, one of the most rewarding projects that I’ve worked on is a project called SoftBundles, which is a bundle of enterprise products. SoftBundles saved the operational team bandwidth and enabled flexible packing of products in promotional bundles, creating more efficiency as well. Before this, the process was completely manual but now, we have fully automated bundle detection, validation and application.
Having a hand in this project has been extremely satisfying because of the sheer impact that it had — creating an easier and better way to connect enterprises with LinkedIn products, which in turn, created a better experience for job seekers.
Building culture from day one
Even as a new employee, I was given the opportunity to contribute to our team and culture in meaningful ways. For example, I love interviewing candidates, so I spoke with my manager to discuss this passion and was placed on interview panels, where I’ve already interviewed more than 15 candidates in my first several months at LinkedIn. I look for engineers that are easy to work with, good at problem-solving, and have excellent communication skills. For senior software engineer roles, there is more focus on design and problem solving skills, as managers need to guide others and support their experience.
Onboarding and mentorship sets LinkedIn apart. Right after starting, I was connected with a mentor. Not only did my mentor support me with the tools and resources I would use in the role, but they also helped me find ways to form connections with my colleagues as an initially remote worker, based out of Seattle.
Since relocating to Sunnyvale, California, I’ve also been enjoying the perks at the LinkedIn office, like the fantastic food and the chance to meet up with my teammates in person. LinkedIn was highly flexible throughout and made the relocation stress-free — I was even able to stay in Seattle through the end of my lease.
Looking forward, I’m excited to take advantage of the many networking and mentorship opportunities that LinkedIn offers. I’ve recently joined LinkedIn Coaches, which is a program dedicated to empowering external job seekers in 35+ cities worldwide. These professionals often face additional barriers in their job search, so we support them with additional training, networking opportunities, and career conversations — to help them find their dream job.
My female manager and other mentors have been core to my growth and success here at LinkedIn. It’s one way I try to pay it forward, and live up to LinkedIn’s vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
Inspiring the next generation
LinkedIn is also a place where I can contribute to a cause close to my heart: bridging the gender gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). As the daughter of a teacher and engineer, I believe it’s critical to spark that excitement for STEM and education at a young age, well before considering college, for instance.
Where I grew up in India, STEM was a common career for many women, so it wasn’t until graduate school here in the U.S. — where I was one of only a few women in my computer-science classes — that I first became aware of the gender gap in STEM that exists in many countries.
The experience inspired me to take on a more significant role mentoring and coaching the next generation of female technologists, both inside and outside the office. That’s why I also volunteer for two nonprofit organizations helping to bring more girls into STEM fields: Nuevo Foundation and Inspire-Tech.
These programs connect female students in primary and secondary school to tech companies, inviting the participants to play STEM-based games, and experience “a day in the life” of an engineer. The idea is to get more female students interested in tech careers early on, before college.
We follow the adage, “if you can see it, you can be it,” meaning that if young girls see successful women in tech careers, they will be inspired to follow in their footsteps. I love what I do so much at LinkedIn, and it’s important to me to share that excitement with the next generation.
Based in Sunnyvale, Mounika is a senior backend (applications) engineer at LinkedIn, focused on our LinkedIn business platforms. Before LinkedIn, she spent over four years in Seattle as a software engineer at our parent company, Microsoft, working on its Azure cloud services. Born and raised in India, she holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad, India; and a master’s in computer science from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Outside of work, Mounika is an avid reader, yoga practitioner, and traveler, having traversed over eight countries on her own.
Editor’s note: Considering an engineering/tech career at LinkedIn? In this Career Stories series, you’ll hear first-hand from our engineers and technologists about real life at LinkedIn—including our meaningful work, collaborative culture, and transformational growth. For more on tech careers at LinkedIn, visit: lnkd.in/EngCareers.