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July 16th, 2021

The Humans Behind the Bots: Mariana Prazeres

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At Rasa, our team is building the standard infrastructure for conversational AI. Behind the scenes, the people of Rasa come together from diverse backgrounds to solve today's most interesting challenges in NLP and dialogue management. We're pulling back the curtain to highlight a few of the humans behind the bots.

Today we're talking with Mariana, Quality Assurance Engineer at Rasa. We'll learn Mariana's story and explore the day-to-day projects and technologies they're passionate about.

Hi, Mariana. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?

Hello hello!

My career path has been a whole journey! I originally went to med school, but it wasn't for me, and soon after that I bumped into a QA job at a local small software company, and it just all took off from there! I taught myself how to code and haven't stopped learning and doing computery things ever since.Overall, I've been doing QA for quite some time in several european countries, and I've dabbled in Systems Administration and Technical Support as well -- but I kept coming back to QA because I just love the puzzle.

Just before joining Rasa I'd been working as a QA Team Lead & Release Manager in Paris but was looking for a new challenge and some new tech, as well as a new city! I ran into a job listing from Rasa and well, the more I looked into the company, and the more the interviews went on, the more I became sure that Rasa was the place for me! And here I am in Berlin a year later, still very much sure of my decision :)

Take us through a typical day as a Quality Assurance Engineer. What types of projects do you work on?

I'm not sure there's such a thing as a typical day for me, to be honest!

I was the very first QA Engineer at Rasa, and things have been changing very fast in the time I've been here -- I do a lot of big projects as well as assisting the development teams in their quality efforts.

All-in-all my days often have quite a few components: designing, implementing and maintaining automation frameworks, implementing, maintaining and improving our CI/CD workflows, assisting our squads with their testing and automation efforts, and coordinating our releases! It's definitely a fast-paced job but I really appreciate how much it changes and evolves :)

Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?

It's honestly tough to decide between what I find most rewarding and most interesting, so I'll give you both!

I guess I'd lose my QA badge if I didn't say automation at some point ahah -- but I'd actually take it one layer of abstraction up and say that helping the teams around me is the most rewarding part of the job. Since I also dabble a lot in processes and inter-team collaboration, the best part of the job is to see that what I've suggested or implemented helps the teams work and collaborate better, and helps our product become more stable :)

On a more selfish note I also definitely love how much technical stuff I'm exposed to and how much I get to learn through experimentation at Rasa :)

What's an important problem you're solving at Rasa?

A simple answer would be: everyone who has developed or used software is aware of the need for Quality Assurance.

I'm not here to fix all the bugs, nor am I here to find all of them. What I am here to do is to provide the teams with the necessary tools and knowledge to peacefully and quickly develop Rasa software with the highest possible confidence that it will work well :)

How would you describe Rasa in three words?

Ambitious. Thoughtful. Fun!

How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?

In terms of literal collaboration as in how we communicate, you have your usual suspects: Slack, GitHub, Zoom, Notion. Most communication lives on those channels :) Since we all work remotely at Rasa, these tools really have become super important, and the center of our daily work!

In terms of collaboration as to how we work together, that's a more interesting question! I'm part of the Infrastructure squad, we're comprised of DevOps and QA, and we help all engineering squads with their daily and long-term needs.

Our work is fast-paced and fast-changing, and usually light on process to allow us the most flexibility. As a team, we rely on each other openly and kindly! We always aim the workload to be fair and are always available to help each other, while also allowing each other space to learn and experiment on our own.

What does a culture of diversity mean for you at Rasa?

I've never worked in a company as diverse as Rasa before. And you may think it's not that impactful on you as an individual, but I've found it to be the opposite for me. I love it that we have all kinds of people from all kinds of places, backgrounds and lives at Rasa, it's eye-opening, it's interesting, it's informative, it's personal growth for everyone! I've found I can better relate with colleagues on specific things, and that I learn all the time about experiences and perspectives I had never heard from before or could not have myself. Overall, I feel like it makes us all better people. Diversity is everything <3

How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?

I've always tried my hardest to keep learning (the worst thing you can do to me is have me bored!), and I feel like at Rasa that's very much encouraged. I'm free to explore and try new things out, while also knowing I can reach out to colleagues for help or a fresh set of eyes on my code if I'm hitting a wall. Nothing beats learning for me, and I'm really happy that with the arrangement we have going, I'm able to lead big QA projects, as well as dabble on DevOps topic every now and then, it's awesome!

Rasa even gives us a week per year to learn about anything we want (which I am currently using to learn about some of the Computer Science theory stuff I never got to learn by skipping college) -- all in all, super happy!

What's the most interesting thing you've learned lately?

Been spending some time diving into Networking, and more recently into TCP vs UDP advantages and challenges and it's been like a giant a-ha moment -- all the things I kinda sort-of knew practically are now falling into place and making so much more sense in my mind, I love it!

What's the best career advice you've received?

"Don't underestimate your own worth"

I feel like this is more common for people to do than we realize. I've personally been known to downplay my skills for fear of appearing cocky or like a show-off -- and I've learned it's okay to be truthful and proud of what you can do. We all have skills we tend to underplay or undervalue, but it's part of being a good professional to be able to lay them out confidently!

When it comes to your career, you gotta summon your inner badass sales manager and sell yourself! It's not always easy (for me at least) and it definitely doesn't involve inflating your skills, but it is definitely worth it, and it will save you some frustration down the line!

Thanks Mariana You can find Mariana on LinkedIn.

Want to team up with Rasa? We're hiring! Find open positions for our Engineering team and other roles on our Jobs Board.