221: "Acquia U takes you from Good Cook to Restaurant Chef"

Erica Schroder joined Acquia in 2012 as a graduate of the Acquia U Drupal training bootcamp and is an inspiration to me as a successful career-changer. As part of running arts and dance businesses, she's had a hand in with Drupal since Drupal 5 days, but Acquia U and her subsequent experience have helped make her a Drupal professional. We got the chance to sit down together in 2015 at Acquia's Boston headquarters.

Q & A

A few questions and answers from our conversation:

Q: What made you stick with Drupal?

Erica: I really gravitate towards things that are challenging. I don’t like things to be easy. If it seems like a puzzle and it seems like something I could work at to solve, it’s going to keep me engaged. I found Drupal to be really engaging on that level and I found it to be continually engaging everyday as I continue to maintain Acquia properties here.

Q: What were your expectations going into Acquia U and how did you feel when you were accepted?

Erica: I was surprised when I was accepted because I don’t have a technical background. I was a dance major and I have a master’s degree in non-profit arts management so I legitimately had never heard of command line, I had never seen a PHP template file, I had never done any of that so I thought it was really a far long shot so I was surprised.

When I was accepted, I was expecting to figure out how to work with a team, see the backend code of a site, understand more HTML, CSS and PHP and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Q: What’s the most important thing you got out of Acquia U?

Erica: I think learning how to work on a team for a site was the most important thing for me because before this experience, I had done sites on my own so I didn’t have to worry about what other people were doing with their code, how it would conflict with my code if we were on the same timeline or timeframe for anything, that was never an issue or a conversation.

So figuring out how version control works, figuring out how a team has to prioritize their projects to meet different deadlines and priorities and working within a larger organization with a lot of stakeholders, we learn that in Acquia U doing different projects and I do that every day now on acquia.com.

Q: What’s the one piece of advice that you’d give people looking for a new career?

Erica: I definitely was a career-changer, that’s for sure. You have to be willing to step back and know that you’re not the expert anymore. You’re not at a management level anymore. You’re not at the top of your field anymore. You’d have to be really comfortable in your own skin and know that it’s okay and maybe that you’re going to start maybe from the ground level and that it’s going to take you some time to work your way back up in the new field.

Q: Would you recommend Acquia U to others?

Erica: If people are willing to do a career change or if they’re looking to become a professional as opposed to a home cook, absolutely, yes.

Interview video - 7 min.

Guest dossier

  • Name: Erica Schroder
  • Work affiliation: Engineer, Acquia
  • Drupal.org: eligeski
  • Twitter: @ericaligeski
  • LinkedIn: Erica Schroder
  • About: "As an Engineer at Acquia, I am part of the acquia.com website team. I work closely with marketing and design to bring their hopes and dreams to life on the web. Our website is a living organism, constantly growing, changing and adapting to the needs of a changing market; this in turn requires diligent care, maintenance and refreshes of look and feel. Outside of Acquia, I am an active member of two Boston-based contemporary dance companies with which I perform regularly. I am a veteran dance instructor going into my 19th year of teaching and I have two dogs, Comet and Stella." Also check out her profile at J & D Dance Company!