Erica Schroder

AcquiaU Session: 
2011 Fall Session

From Dance Major to Front-End Developer

Interested in Acquia U but worried your non-computer-science background might mean you aren't a good fit? Read on my friend, read on. This is the story of how a dance major goes from selling tickets in an orchestra box office to being one of the lead front-end developers on

I'm Erica and I have a BFA in Dance and a Master of Non-profit Arts Management. Before Acquia, I worked in higher education doing arts education, and I owned a dance studio for three years. When Acquia U was announced, I was the Marketing/Box Office/Technology Manager at the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. At that point the only real technical experience I had was building a Drupal 6 site for the orchestra and a personal site on Drupal Gardens. I didn't know what command line was, had never seen php and had never written a line of Javascript. I had a vague understanding of Views and taxonomy. Despite that, I really liked Drupal, and I really liked building and maintaining the site.

A good friend (and Acquia employee) made me apply to Acquia U. I thought he was losing his mind; I thought there was no way someone with my background would be accepted. I was shocked when I got called in for a round of interviews and even more shocked to receive a contract. I had no idea what I was in for, or where it would lead, but I trusted my friend and took a massive leap of faith. This was a huge career change.

The first week of Acquia U is a blur. It coincided with a team onsite for Professional Services so Acquia was buzzing. There was so much activity, so many people, tons of meetings, sessions, social activities and work to be done. I remember being wildly overwhelmed by hearing so much technical speak; but I also remember this feeling that Acquia was awesome. I had no idea what I was doing or why they accepted me into Acquia U, but wow, Acquia is super cool, the employees are amazing, I hope I survive this and get to stay.

I think the best part of the program were the rotations into different departments at Acquia. On our rotations we were directly integrated with Acquia teams and were given real work to do. We were treated as regular employees and were given real responsibilities and tasks. My first rotation was in Support with the Drupal Gardens team and I helped manage the support ticket queue. I learned so much by having the opportunity to go into customer sites on Gardens and help them solve issues. Wow, there were some crazy issues. Things I would have never run into on my own. My second rotation was in Engineering with the team. I assisted by creating landing pages and updating modules. This was where the learning really kicked into high gear for me. On this team I really came to understand version control, team workflow, how our products work, and how to solve unexpected requirements from the marketing team.