Bella: A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer

by Gap Inc.

Gap Inc.

June 30, 2022

At Gap Inc. there are many chances for students, recent grads or early career professionals to grow their skills and build on their educational experience. Our GapTech Rotational Program, or GRP for short, is one of them. Not only does the program equip participants with practical experience through real-life projects, but it exposes them to a variety of leaders, teams and specialties within the company.  

Learning what it takes to become one of the largest specialty retailers in the U.S. would not be possible without great mentors passionate about guiding early-career employees every step of the way. For Bella, who joined GRP remotely from Sunnyvale, CA, being a Software Engineer through the program means constantly growing and learning from teammates, managers and mentors on how our technology team delivers globally scalable, cloud-based solutions. She connects with her manager twice a week and with her mentor once a week to help her strengthen both her technical experience and professional path. The two encourage her to ask questions, while also empowering her to take the initiative to propose her own solutions first.  

Being part of the company’s large network of engineers also permits Bella to connect with other leaders in her field, including senior engineers and technical experts—and learn the ways in which they work toward success. What does that success look like? Anything from designing inclusive features for Gap Inc. customers, to debugging, to enhancing work-life balance. Join Bella on one of her workdays to learn more. 

6:30 AM – I wake up and exercise for about 20 minutes at home—I like to jump rope and do a bit of weightlifting for mobility. Then I make a simple breakfast and a cup of coffee to get ready for the day. 

8:30 AM – I log onto Microsoft Teams and check in with my GRP teammates. We are a team of 20 people all paired on tickets with employees across the Core - User Interface team. I collaborate with different colleagues from the Bay Area, New York and Brazil and love it because I get to learn from their various working styles. Around this time, I also check my calendar and emails to review my agenda for the day and prioritize my to-do list. 

10:00 AM – I join a daily team stand-up where we go over the specific tickets the larger team is working on, including the ones my pair-programming partner and I collaborate on. During this stand-up, we take turns discussing our progress, if we have any challenges or roadblocks, and if we need to schedule additional huddles to resolve any issues. I really love this meeting because it brings us all together as a team and it’s useful for us to know where everyone is on their projects. To end the stand-up, we do a little team bonding activity we call the “finger dance,” and chant “F-U-I, F-U-I,” an acronym for our team’s name—Foundation User Interface. I love it.  

11:00 AM – I focus on independent work. Usually when I tackle a problem I’m not familiar with, the first thing I do is read documentation to deeply understand how a certain function, like the debounce, works. Then I go to search and browse similar issues on StackOverflow. (We love StackOverflow!) Doing so usually provides me with two or three possible solutions to try out.  

1:00 PM – Around this time, I start pair-programming with my partner. We usually take turns sharing our screens. If we get stuck, my partner and I will reach out to other engineers or jump on a Zoom meeting to try to figure out an issue together.  

One of the benefits of pair-programming is that I have a chance to see different engineers’ debugging skills and programming styles, which are almost like their own personal languages. One of my teammates, for example, likes to extract the logic from our project, place it in a separate file, modify it, and see its different behaviors. This engineer really taught me the value of understanding every line of written code. I think this helped me to be a better developer. 

3:30 PM – I take some time to review how other engineers approach their stories. As a new developer, the code review process provides an opportunity to see the optimization techniques that could be applied to my task. Reading another reviewer's comments reminds me of how to approach a certain task from a different angle. Code review is a critical skill for developers, so I’m happy I got exposed to it early in my career.  

6:30 PM – Around this time, I usually finish cooking dinner—I like to treat myself to a nice home-made dinner during the workweek. After dinner, I like to hang out with my cats, or watch a movie or documentary on Disney+ or Netflix.  

‘Fit Check with Bella

"Gap Inc. really cares about its customers. I remember when I paired with one of our engineers, she taught me a lot about accessibility, explaining that we should always build assistive components that help those with disabilities navigate our ecommerce sites. This experience really inspired me to be a better software engineer and to design with inclusion in mind."

What about working at Gap Inc. inspires you? Why do you love working here? 

All our mentors and managers in GapTech’s Rotational Program encourage us to ask questions and stay curious, creating a strong sense of belonging within the team and in the program. The company prides itself for being Inclusive, By Design and they do a good job of welcoming diverse people and creating opportunities for them to connect through our employee belonging groups, like Women@Gap Inc., the GRP book club, and others. 

What are you proud to contribute to your team and/or our culture? 

I always have an open mindset, and I’m respectful when I collaborate with my teammates. Gap Inc. is a global organization with employees from all over the world, and my team is full of people from different backgrounds and cultures. Having moved from China to California about eight years ago, I’ve enjoyed being able to share a lot of my life experiences with my team, and vice versa. I learned that one of my teammates has pet chickens, cats, and a German Shepherd all in one house! I’m also willing to challenge myself to Do the Right Thing (one of Gap Inc’s Words to Live By) for our customers and community. 

Describe your personal style. Which item(s) do you love to wear from our brands to express your style? 

My style is comfy and simple. When I’m not repping one of my favorite sports teams, I’m usually wearing a Gap logo hoodie over a simple Old Navy tee and jeans.   


Did Bella’s workday inspire you? Learn more about our GRP Program and join the team! 

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