Venture For America Fellow Experience

A Career Path Built By Water Aerobics, Girls Who Code, and Venture For America

If there’s one thing I’ve found to be true, it’s that you never know when you’ll cross paths with someone who will leave a significant mark on your life. My most profound moments are deeply rooted in the people and the environment in which they happened.

Anna Goetter

If there’s one thing I’ve found to be true, it’s that you never know when you’ll cross paths with someone who will leave a significant mark on your life. My most profound moments are deeply rooted in the people and the environment in which they happened. Thus, the story of my journey to Leverege is mostly a story about the people who helped me get here. 

High School Water Aerobics

Throughout high school, I taught water aerobics at the community pool on weeknights and Sunday mornings. I can say one thing with confidence; I was not and am not a swimmer. I played sports sure, but I certainly wasn’t prepared to lead a water-based workout class. The aerobics regulars were not impressed. Jody and Jody Ann, my harshest critics, expected a different routine in every single session. With a lot of hard work, chlorine soaked notebook paper, and Jody-induced motivation, I got better. My competitive track history helped, and soon I was creating routines on the fly while waving my arms and yelling across the pool to the tune of “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida. These women taught me the value of hard work and forced me in many ways to become a better leader, a quicker thinker, and a more creative problem-solver. They also gave me a toolbox as a pre-college gift, which I still use.

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When it was time to leave for college, I was sure about two things: I loved math, and I wanted to get out of Minnesota. I had lived in St. Paul my entire life, and my gut told me that there was nothing left for me there. I applied to Harvey Mudd College, a school just outside of LA, and quickly made my escape from the Midwest to study mathematics. Like many 18-year-old first-year college students, I thought I had my career path all figured out. And like many first-year college students, I was wrong. 

I was introduced to computer science in CS5 during my first semester, and I became hooked. Computer science was the perfect intersection of critical problem-solving combined with practical application. Fast-forward to junior year; my classes were incredibly difficult. I was routinely pulling all nighters. Burnout was creeping up on me. Admittedly, my love for learning was standing on shaky ground.

Luckily, I knew I only had to make it to the summer. I had a summer job as a teaching assistant at Girls Who Code, a 10-week summer camp to introduce high school girls to computer science principles. I would be teaching 18 high school girls object-oriented programming and web development, among other intro topics in computer science. 

Teaching for Girls Who Code was like a breath of fresh air for me. Undoubtedly, it is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Teaching computer science to high schoolers, some of whom were only there because their parents made them, is an arduous task. One of our lesson plans was to program robots composed of four wheels, a motor, and an Arduino board, through an obstacle course. This lesson was particularly challenging because many of the motors were malfunctioning. It’s safe to say that it is incredibly daunting to attempt to program a broken board when you don’t even know how to program a functional one. Students were getting frustrated and losing interest, so we pivoted (#agile).  Robot/human dance party-battle enter stage left. By the end of class, we had the competing groups singing and dancing while their robots swiveled along. The students had found joy in their work, something I had forgotten amidst all the tests, late-night study sessions, and stress at college. 

Finding Venture For America

Senior year I found myself surrounded by peers who were going to Silicon Valley to work in Big Tech. At first, I joined them. I went to interviews, dinners, tech talks, job fairs, colloquiums, networking events, and more. I went from one interview to the next, but I wasn’t even remotely excited as I advanced through the process. The rejections, offers, and interviews all felt the same to me, and I just felt tired. I knew I wanted to do computer science or math in some form, but Big Tech was just not for me. 

Amidst my job search, I stumbled upon Venture For America (VFA) while browsing my college’s job board late one night, and I thought, why not? I submitted my application and eventually heard back, progressing through their interview process. When the final step in the VFA interview process came – known as Selection Day - I still didn’t know what to expect from this program that I had applied for on a whim. 

I arrived at my hotel in San Antonio the day before Selection Day and ran into another student from Harvey Mudd. She introduced me to the friends she had already made. These people were students like us, but also they were also teachers, designers, business owners, engineers, and entrepreneurs. We talked about everything – their aspirations, hobbies, jobs – while venturing around San Antonia, eating tacos, and laughing as if we’d been friends for a lifetime. I had thought I would spend the night before Selection Day in my hotel room, doing my homework. Instead, I found myself on a river cruise along the San Antonio river walk with people I had met only 3 hours ago, inspired and excited to have the opportunity to join VFA with them. 

Through my Venture For America journey, I ended up at Leverege, an IoT software startup. In the IoT space, you have to fail fast, learn quickly, and accept you’ll never know it all. Every day at Leverege presents a challenge I've never encountered before. It requires hard work, but I've also find joy in the problems I solve. Everyone at Leverege cares about the people they work with just as much as the products they create, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Anna Goetter

Product Engineer

Anna is a Product Engineer at Leverege who is passionate about technology that makes a real difference in people's lives. She also likes to think about problems in theoretical math, particularly in the area of topology. Outside of computers and math, she loves national parks. Since going to college in the West, she's visited many national parks (Glacier is her favorite), and she's excited for many more.

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