Previously in The Women of Drupal series, we talked with Baddy Breidert (baddysonja) about organizing Drupal Europe, attending Drupal Camps DrupalCons, and being a European Champion in robotic soccer. Catch up and read Baddy's story, here.
With a global community of over 1 million members, Drupal finds its strength in its diversity of users, developers, strategists, editors, and sponsors.
According to the Women In Drupal group, which provides guidance for women to get more involved with Drupal, women represent about 17 percent of the community. While that’s drastically better than the representation of 1.5 percent in the rest of the open source community, there’s still a long way to go.
We started Acquia’s Women of Drupal blog series because we think that by sharing stories about the challenges – and the rewards – of contributing to the Drupal community, we could encourage aspiring Drupalists to forge their own paths and help represent a greater chunk of the community.
… Not to mention, we also want to give a little credit to the women who make the community what it is.
Adrianna Shukla is Acquia’s senior marketing web operations manager. When she’s not unwrapping her desk or watching her home security live feeds of her two rescue dogs climbing onto the forbidden couch, she’s migrating sites to Drupal 8, translating pages to German and Japanese, speaking at DrupalCon, or holding scrum meetings from a bus traveling through India. Yes, Adrianna once tried to hold a meeting while on her honeymoon.
Ben: While our desks have been next to each other for almost a year, I don’t know that much about your tech background. How did you get your start in tech?
Adrianna: It all started at Bentley University. I had an internship freshman year in the school’s marketing department as a content inputter for their website. Some of the other interns gradually introduced me to displays and views and creating things within the content editor experience. I slowly but surely started to use modules that were enabled in the site. By my junior year, I got a local environment set up, and I started using Dev Desktop.
Ben: So you were using Acquia years before you even worked here.
Adrianna: Yep, Acquia was the company that we built our Drupal site off of. By this point I was the project manager, as well as the bug-fixer. There were two back-end devs and one front-end dev, and they helped me get set up with a local environment and taught me how to do bug fixes, css fixes, clean up lines of code, do QA of their code, and test on local environments.
Ben: That sounds like a pretty busy internship.
Adrianna: Yep! And by the start of senior year, they offered me a full-time position as a web specialist, while I was majoring in marketing and minoring in computer information systems.
Ben: That’s a lot to balance as a student. My senior year, it was hard enough to just balance studying with eating.
Adrianna: Yeah … It was absolute mayhem for a year. Originally, I was going to go into advertising and marketing, but a year or so after working for Bentley full time, I started working with Drupal as a web manager and software UI lead for a small company on Cape Cod.
Ben: What Drupal project or contribution are you working on? What are you most proud of?
Adrianna: I’m probably the first in the Women of Drupal series who hasn’t actually contributed to Drupal as a framework. But I have worked on migrations from Drupal 5 to 6, 6 to 7, and 7 to 8. I’ve done so many migrations start to finish, it taught me a lot about project managing, resourcing for these projects, and what goes into migrations. And that’s what got me the job at Acquia – they were migrating when I was hired.
Ben: What were some of the challenges you've faced as a Drupalist, or just in tech in general?
Adrianna: There are two ways I can go with this. Skill-wise, I don’t have the same dev background that a lot of Drupalists have, so while I have done developing, I haven’t focused my career on it.
Ben: Right, but dev skills aside, I definitely think of you as a member of the Drupal community. And an especially vital member here at Acquia too.
Adrianna: My skills have been more focused around Drupal as a whole, the content editing experience, and managing Drupal-related projects.
Ben: So if those are your skills challenges, what would you say are your other career-related challenges?
Adrianna: Career-wise, I’m younger, so people don’t always take me as seriously as someone with 20 years of experience. Sometimes getting consultation or contracting jobs can be a little more difficult. People might think “well, you’re 26 years old. Why am I going to take advice from a kid?”
Ben: Well, maybe because you know what you’re doing and have been doing this since college?
Adrianna: It’s worked out so far though. But those are the humps that I’ve had to get over as a younger woman – trying to portray myself as older than I am. For example, never in a million years would I walk into a meeting unprepared. As a woman, especially a young one, you need to be confident and prepared walking into those situations.
Ben: So what inspires you? What keeps you passionate about your work?
Adrianna [excitedly, and said in one breath]: I honestly love Drupal. The beauty of working in Drupal is you get to see the outcome. You get to see what you created. There’s a finale in what you do, and there’s no stopping you in terms of what you can create. I’ve worked in forums, to knowledge bases, to news sites, to portals (internal and external), all of which are not just normal corporate websites. And Drupal doesn’t just do that. There’s no end to what you can create, and there’s so much flexibility in what you can do. My job is never the same for longer than five or six months. There’s always a new project that someone wants to build, and my answer is always “Well, we can use Drupal for that!”
[Finally, a breath]
So that’s what keeps me in the Drupal space. There’s never a shortage of things you can do with it.
Ben: And the Drupal community is constantly churning out new features and modules that lead to new possibilities for you and your projects.
Adrianna: Right. With all the developers out there, and the modules that keep getting developed, I often think “Wow, somebody thought of that!? I can use that for something on our site.” Whereas, with other platforms I’ve used, your often have to wait until the company releases their latest version of their platform. And there’s no customizing and you get what you get. People in this community use their own products and are continuously building and improving on them.
Ben: What’s inspiring you right now in Drupal?
Adrianna: I always wanted to work for Acquia too, because the founder of Drupal is here. And Acquia has the most engineers out of all companies that contribute back to Drupal. I was almost a fangirl – I wanted to meet these people and see what their daily lives looked like. I wanted to know what makes them go, “Ok, today I’m gonna pop out this module and that’s what I’m gonna do today.”
Ben: Any other aspects of the Drupal community that you're involved in?
Adrianna: I go to and present at lots of Drupal meetups, and I speak at DrupalCons.
Ben: What does the future of Drupal look like, in your opinion? More adoption, new features, any major changes?
Adrianna: I feel pretty confident that we’ll see a larger adoption rate, especially with Drupal 9. We’ll also see even more of a focus on engaging content editors and marketers with Drupal. It will get easier to use and edit in, too. That’s coming. I’m really excited about that. And that will continue to increase the Drupal community’s diversity, and hopefully make women and younger people’s representation even stronger.
Ben: Your optimism is making me really happy. What advice would you give your younger self or someone who is just starting out?
Adrianna: Get yourself more involved in the dev community as early as possible. Learn what others are doing. Network more. Normally “networking” is pretty cliché, but this community really is unique. They seek to continuously improve their community, expand what Drupal can do, and improve open source for everyone. Everyone contributes and works together. It feels like a small world.