Why I Joined the Capital One Boston Office (You Should Too)

The Paths We Walk Shape Who We Are

I’ve always worked in engineering, but the industries vary quite a bit--healthcare, software security, digital imaging, and robotics, to name a few. Inherently these are unrelated, but they have something in common that’s very important to me--the need to move quickly, but safely. I’m super passionate about building great software products without breaking important things in the process, and I’ve been deliberate about doing this at different types of companies. However, working for a major bank never so much as crossed my mind--until last year. 

During the first half of 2019, I got several calls about how Capital One was  hiring in Boston and that they’d love to talk to me. At first, I just wasn’t interested. I was happy working with some really great teams at my previous employer, and while I knew Capital One had done some amazing work with going all in on the cloud, I loved delivering software products that make a difference in people’s lives to market. How in the world could I do that at a bank?

As the summer came to a close, someone I knew well asked again for a few minutes of time to talk about Capital One Boston. I decided it was time to listen. Since those first calls I’d started to hear more and more about Capital One’s amazing DevOps culture, and I knew the scale of their digital transformation had to be pretty huge as a Fortune 100 company. What started as a quick chat with someone in my network about Capital One hiring led to several more phone calls and two trips to interview at their headquarters in McLean, VA. 

All of a sudden, I had gone from curious to seriously interested in working for Capital One.

Built on Innovation

I think it’s important to know a little more about what matters to me and why Capital One quickly became a company I needed to work at. My career started in medical devices; specifically writing software for a heart pump. I went through a successful 510k submission. Quality and process were critical, and they made what we built more robust. Later I’d lead teams working on bomb disposal robots--another area where little things matter and if you do it wrong you may explode where you don’t want to. In my last role, I was building security software that had an important mission behind it--protecting people.

Suffice it to say, I care deeply about how software is developed. Being involved in software means being a craftsperson. Not every company feels this way and that’s fine - diversity of process is how we get better. However, Capital One is a company filled with craftspeople. We care about what we build and how we build it because our software impacts people’s lives. We’re hungry to solve really hard problems the right way, whether it’s removing bias from machine learning models, increasing system throughput, or ensuring governance is baked into our DNA. 

Governance and process--words that have a tendency to intimidate technologists-- matter so much when it comes to software development. Each company needs to find their right balance. However, when your core model prioritizes solely moving as quickly as possible, it’s left up to individuals to decide what to skip--and in turn, what is broken. General software best practices, often don’t get the attention they deserve in this scenario, and in my experience teams don’t go back and fix these things after a release. These instances of “brokenness” at best cause a poor user customer experience, but more often they become exploited or have more grave consequences. Nobody wants to contend with a faulty rocket or broken bomb disposal robot!    

The more I dug into Capital One, their technology, and their approach to process the more excited I became. For me, building great software that people rely on to manage their money requires the engineering rigor you’d find in the sciences--like my previous work with bomb disposal robots and heart pumps. Governance is that rigor. It nudges developers in the right direction; it ensures that a minimum viable product considers impact and blast radius in addition to an awesome feature set. Capital One is such a great example of this--we’re building software that empowers people financially, doing so in the cloud, and building it the right way rather than the easiest way. 

Changing Banking for Good

That’s not a term I use loosely. Capital One is on a mission to change banking for good, and we live this motto. This extends to our customers as well as our associates. Being a good citizen matters to me. Giving back to your community and being a force that brings positive change to you and those around you are reasons why I join companies. Capital One does this in spades when it comes to our customers, associates, and our communities. 

Capital One is new in Boston, and we've already set up our Coders Program in Somerville, MA.  This awesome initiative connects our developers with local schools so engineers can volunteer to teach underprivileged students how to code. Over 12,000 students have participated in the Coders program, and all of them came out of it with their own mobile app that they can deploy to friends and family.

Additionally, Capital One supports Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, both in Tech and at the enterprise level. By support I mean we have thousands of associates actively participating in business resource groups and are taking real action to overturn stereotypes and truly build a diverse community--both inside of Capital One and in the broader tech community.  As the Accountable Executive for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging in college recruiting, I’m leading a group that realizes how difficult this is and, more importantly, that we need to do more than we think. This important work is something I truly care about, and the fact that it’s such a high priority here is yet another reason joining Capital One was the best decision I could have made. 

To read more about diversity, inclusion, and belonging in Tech at Capital One, read Breaking Barriers: Why Diversity in Tech is Everyone's Job

Citgo Sign in Boston

Capital One Boston

Capital One is hiring in Boston now. The future looks bright- our new office is under construction in Cambridge where we’ll bring together a new group of amazing talent to continue our innovation journey. I’m excited about Capital One hiring here because of the amazing number of colleges and universities and the strong concentration of tech talent in a relatively small area--hundreds of business within 1.5 miles in Kendall Square alone. 

When I ventured out for lunch recently, I ran into a friend who is working on a cure for COVID-19 and overheard someone else on the phone discussing a cure for Ebola--I only walked a few blocks. I love the atmosphere of continual learning in Boston, and the fact that it’s smaller than other tech hubs makes it much easier to interact with and get to know your community. The values that Capital One will bring to the community match the values we have in Boston--there’s important work happening in both places, and we’ve got similar DNA.

Of all the jobs hiring in Boston, what do our open roles have to offer? We’re building out some of the most exact data models, tackling cloud utilization and management at enterprise scale, delivering excellent mobile and online banking services to our customers, and even selling our own software. Capital One continues to push the boundaries of what it means to be a bank and a technology company. 

Capital One quickly checked my box on how to create and build with innovation. It was the next conversation that truly had me all in: Capital One is now pursuing commercialization of proprietary software to help other companies transform their business and customer experience. That’s game changing huge, and it’s happening in Boston, right now. Capital One hiring in Boston is dedicated to teams open sourcing and commercializing software we've built inside of Capital One. We’re not doing this just for fun--Capital One has gone through an enormous digital transformation over the last decade, and we want to share our success and lessons learned through the software that got us where we are today. Said another way, we want to empower other companies to move to the cloud. 

If you’re looking for your next challenge, I challenge you to think outside the box and beyond the tech companies you may be familiar with. If you want to work at a company that values the whole you, I invite you to come be challenged, creative, supported and innovative with us. That’s why I came here. That’s what I’ve found here. 

To learn more about open technology roles, visit the Tech Explorers page on Capital One Careers. 


Landscape photo created by faabi - www.freepik.com

Allison Perkel, VP, Software Engineering

Allison Perkel is VP, Software Engineering at Capital One, where she leads an emerging line of business whose mission is to bring the amazing software built at Capital One to market. When not making the world a better place through technology, she can be found with her camera documenting the world around her. You may also find her cheering for the Yankees.

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