Support Developer Rasha Moumneh shares her journey from nonprofit worker to tech pro.
This post was originally published on Technical.ly.
Rasha Moumneh was burnt out. The former human rights professional felt the impact of her work in nonprofits being stifled by internal politics, and her foray into academia — a master’s in anthropology from University College London, followed by acceptance into Rutgers University for her Ph.D. in 2013 — left her uninspired. She had dreams of becoming a developer in the tech industry but believed it was impossible without a degree in computer science.
Enter Fastmail. Moumneh, originally from Lebanon, but by then a resident of Philadelphia, was on the hunt for a tech company with a collaborative culture that would teach her the ropes when she discovered the independent email provider. Though she didn’t yet have the technical experience to become a developer, she was offered an entry-level role on the tech support team with opportunities for growth.
“I had a clear path that I wanted to go down,” Moumneh said. “I wanted to work at a place where I could get a lot of facetime with developers that also held a strong set of ethics. I found that at Fastmail.”
Fastmail is an Australian email provider that values customer privacy and being a “good internet citizen” above all else. For as little as $3 per month, the company provides completely ad-free products and services, protects customer data, and eliminates unwanted solicitations. In 2015, Fastmail acquired Pobox — created by Penn student, and now COO of Fastmail, Helen Horstmann-Allen. The acquisition gave Fastmail permanent residence in Philadelphia, elevating the 40-person company (17 in Philly) into a small, but global business.
A benefit of working at a smaller company, Moumneh said, is that managers have the time and bandwidth to pay close attention to employee growth and development.
“Managers are aware that no one wants to stay in an entry-level role forever, ” she said. “There is constant encouragement for us to pursue our interests, especially for those of us on the support team. Early on, I made my career intentions clear and there has been a constant effort towards helping me upskill, both in the type of projects I am given and through the CTO’s wonderful mentorship.”
While Moumneh received extensive on-the-job training as a Fastmail tech support specialist, she used her annual professional development budget to enroll in the Lambda School’s coding boot camp. After she graduated, and only a little over a year after she joined the support team, Moumneh was proudly promoted to her current role of support developer.
Now, Moumneh bridges the gap between the support staff and developers, escalating support problems that become too technical and performing development tasks. The work, and the company’s values, have been a welcome reprieve from the stressful and red-tape-laced world of the human rights field, she said.
“I wanted to work for a company where I could wake up, look at myself in the mirror and feel OK,” she said. “Fastmail promotes the idea of being a ‘good internet citizen.’ It genuinely values people’s privacy. It holds a set of ethics in today’s internet landscape and maintains a human-centered focus.”
It also, as Moumneh learned firsthand, sees value in people, and supports their growth, whether they are sought-after tech experts or trying to build a brand new career.
“Fastmail is a company that invests in its people,” Moumneh said. “There are paths forward for people in all positions.”
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