- Kirsten Ballard
Bridget Lane supports real news from behind the scenes – and behind a screen. As a computer software developer at USA TODAY Network, she supports over 140 websites across the United States.
She’s always been interested in the sciences. In high school, she had dreams of working for NASA and completed two programs with them. However, when she attended George Mason, aerospace engineering was not offered as a major, so she went with the next-closest thing: computer engineering.
From her first coding class, she was hooked. “I loved it; I majored in computer science and never went back.”
Out of college, she began as an intern for the USA TODAY Network. She hadn’t thought she’d work in media. “I found Gannet and they were doing interesting stuff on the technical side. They have a lot of cool things for engineers to work on and the news is something I’m passionate about. I want to stay in the industry and keep trying to change it.”
After a year as an intern, she transitioned to full-time. That was two years ago.
Bridget works on the infrastructure side of developing. She is involved in hosting the sites and making sure it’s flexible, strong and secure.
“If something goes wrong on the server somewhere, you can destroy it and rebuild it quickly,” she explains. Her day starts around 9 a.m., when she comes into the office and responds to messages. From there, she looks in the queue for any open tickets. She completes one or two per day. As her job has evolved, it has become more customer-facing.
“It’s a very agile environment,” she says.
She focuses on speed, performance and optimization of the Content Delivery Network. She helped transition the entire Gannett family over to https secure delivery. “It was a huge deal. If you grade the quality of your news and you’re not delivering your news securely, it is automatically blown off a little…it impacts the trustworthiness of our news.
Her favorite part of her job is her coworkers. “The people on my team are extremely friendly and extremely passionate,” she says.
“Work is not just a means to an end or a salary or a 9 to 5 job. It’s also a hobby and something you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about supporting local and grassroots news.”
At 23 years old, she has already established herself as a leader, having given two keynotes at technical conferences. As she continues her career, she wants to stay in the technical side and move into a role where she can have a bigger impact on the industry and more influence on decisions.
“In order for news companies to stay in business and to stay cutting-edge, you need to make sure the tech you’re investing in is a) a good decision and b) not just a temporary solution,” Bridget says.
Her advice to women starting in technology is to find a team that supports you, “not just because you’re female, but because you’re an excellent developer. Do not be discouraged. If you’re going to school as a developer, it’s a male-dominated thing. You do absolutely belong.”