Palantir: From Finance to Palantir

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Taking a dive into the deep, dark quagmire of life

Some people have career aspirations from a young age, but for the rest of us, discovering a career-worthy passion, or even learning how to distinguish a job from a career, can take some time. I was nearly ten years into a job in finance (managing insurance/retirement/wealth-building products) when I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I should have a career, not just a job. I wanted to feel proud of the way I spent my days.

Diving in

After some soul-searching, I signed up for a Full-Stack Web Development bootcamp. I was never the kid who tinkered with code or tried to see how my AOL Instant Messenger worked (yes, I was a kid of the 90s) - but I suddenly found myself fascinated with the combination of language, math, and puzzle that was hiding in my browser’s Inspect tool. The bootcamp’s cost made this a risky prospect, but it also made me more likely to commit fully. I can’t say I loved every moment of the grind; working full-time, raising three kids (whom I had adopted just two days into the bootcamp), attending evening classes, keeping up with homework, and maintaining sanity was not always the easiest, but I tend to thrive in chaos. I learned the MERN Stack (MongoDB, Express.js, React, and Node), and after six months I left the bootcamp with one of the highest scores in my class and even higher hopes.

Image removed.Cue the mass tech layoffs of late 2022, pitting my emerging knowledge against developers with years of experience at tech giants such as the site formerly known as Twitter. My understanding of code was evident, but my ability to explain code was underdeveloped, leaving me flailing in interviews and unable to find anyone willing to take a chance on me. Anyone, that is, until my local Women Who Code chapter posted about’s fellowship program. I applied, spent three months learning Drupal through DrupalEasy's Drupal Career Online program, and started an internship with That internship turned into a full-time engineering role, and now I’m creating innovative tech and building professional websites from scratch.

Going deep

How could I transition from finance to React/JavaScript to Drupal/PHP in such a short time? Same way I managed to learn French — its proximity to English based on its Latin roots gave me a leg up. Both JavaScript and PHP are Object-Oriented languages, meaning they derive from making real-world objects into code. Object-Oriented Programming, or OOP, is a paradigm that encompasses several coding languages, and since I already had a base in OOP via JavaScript, I mainly needed to learn the syntax of PHP as the concepts were mostly the same. Not only are the languages similar, but the overall folder structure and architecture of both Drupal and React can be set up using the same patterns. I quickly noticed my new Palantiri teammates using the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture, which I was already comfortable with.

Another benefit of that MVC architecture is its collaborative nature. By separating sections of the code based on functionality, different people could work simultaneously on building one piece of a site without risking overwriting one another. React most prominently offers collaboration through its separation of interests via Components, delivering an end product to users, while Drupal is set up to not only be collaboratively built, but to allow site builders to delegate content creation, and even site administration, to users.

Surfacing from murky depths

Perhaps the coolest thing I discovered through this journey is the ability to create a site harnessing the powers of both Drupal and React! Drupal’s Content Management System structure creates a powerful backend for React’s simple and extensive front-end library. This just leaves me with the accessibility question - how can we make Drupal a more popular and attainable technology for entry-level developers? According to Statista’s data analytic survey, Drupal ranks 29th among the most-used frameworks among developers worldwide as of 2023. In the same survey, React ranked second only to Node, which is another JavaScript framework.

I think we can find a path for learners of all types, we just need to harness the power of our community to get there. We are not in competition with React or Wordpress or any other framework, Drupal is just another tool that people should have an opportunity to explore at any level. Who knows? Maybe they’ll fall in love like so many others have.

Calm waters

I love the glimmer of awe in people’s eyes now when I tell them I’m a software engineer. I can’t say the path was easy, but I’ve never regretted making the career change, and I never tire of continuing to suck up every ounce of knowledge I can find. I love the curiosity and creativity that I can bring to work with me every day, bouncing from front-end to back-end work, developing brand new technologies, and exploring every little thing that interests me. I’m happy to say I have found my career. 

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