This week, I published Denise Gosnell's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:

  • Denise pronounced the word "mentor" already when talking about her studies. She had mentors to guide her in choosing her career path at the "early" age of 20 years old. What a treat it must have been!
  • Denise tried out teaching early on. As a Mathematics major, it was one of the obvious paths. But didn't like teaching the classroom context. She loves public speaking though. Both teaching and public speaking are often mixed, but are indeed two different beasts.
  • Denise didn't really chose graph-theory as a field at first. While teaching, she made a career decision to explore a different "fork". She enrolled into this field actually expecting to study bar graphs and pie charts... "graph theory" :D But all it took was 5 minutes during the first class to have an epiphany about this new way to visualize data.
  • I like Denise's "down to earth" mindset: "My favorite professors were the ones that had deep applications experience, who made me feel like they were teaching me something relevant to the real world"
  • Denise describes her own journey very visually, talking about forks, bifurcations, trying a path, doubling down and coming back. In a way, this is very much what I would expect from a mathematician working on graph theory :D
  • When I asked Denise the difference between a software engineer and a data scientist, she said the following: "The problems software engineers are solving revolve around the logic of what they are building, whereas I am more interested in using data to answer questions."
  • Denise describes "the speed and tempo of things" as the biggest pain point of her moving from academia to the startup world
  • I know this stat by now, but it still baffles me to hear it: "Data-cleansing really takes 80 to 90% of the time of a data scientist." This is just bonkers.
  • Denise highlighted the importance of networking many times over. This is how she found her last two jobs (in addition to having world class skills).
  • Denise was intimidated by the brilliant minds working at DataStax and she was a bit worried when she started. But all she found was a welcoming culture that got her up to speed very fast. This is not the first time I have heard this: world class colleagues are often the kindest people.
  • Going back to the paths, Denise gave us the following advice: "The many forks in my life stemmed from a willingness to fail, don't be afraid to fail."
  • And her final advice: "Trust yourself, and if you don't know what that looks like right now, figure that out"

Thanks Denise for sharing your story with us!

You can find the full episode and the shownotes here on

Did you listen to his story?

  • What did you learn?
  • What are your personal takeaways?
  • What did you find particularly interesting?