Software engineer Sophie D’Amico has always sought opportunities for growth. At Viasat, she’s found a seemingly endless supply of them – a discovery that not only delights her, but that could reshape her career path.
D’Amico joined the company one year ago after serving a college internship at Viasat’s Carlsbad, CA headquarters.
“For a while, I thought Viasat would be like a stepping stone,” she said. “But I think the opportunities for growth I’ve received at Viasat have been so plentiful that I’m really intrigued by the idea of staying here and seeing where else I can go within the company. The fact that I have that flexibility and my contributions are actively valued – it feels a lot more rewarding than I had originally anticipated.
“I don’t know where I’ll be in five years or even a year. But my potential longevity at Viasat just seems to keep increasing.”
Rice University grad
The Ohio native went to college at Texas’ Rice University, the same school from which Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg graduated. D’Amico’s father also attended Rice, but she was influenced by more than family history.
“When I was looking at all of my options, I really liked that Rice was very diverse,” she said. “It’s reflected in the things that people study, and the student body. Especially coming from a place like Ohio that was very homogenous, that diversity was something I really wanted.
“The experience was invaluable. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not been able to grow alongside all these people from different backgrounds.”
D’Amico, who has a lifelong love of math and physics, majored in electrical and computer engineering. While she was in college, she talked with a friend who’d been hired as an electrical engineer at Viasat. His description of his work and the Viasat culture convinced D’Amico to apply for a 2018 internship.
That summer both exceeded her expectations and surprised her.
“It was a lot of learning, very fast-paced, but it was exciting,” she said. “Another intern and I were basically given free rein on a project. We had the responsibility of making sure it was split appropriately and in a way that was productive. It was overwhelming at times, but I feel that experience helps me even now as I work with my team.”
From intern to full-time employee
When Viasat offered her a fulltime position, D’Amico didn’t hesitate.
“I really fell in love with the culture, which was why I took the offer,” she said. “From a social context, everyone’s really friendly and values their coworkers. People even seemed excited to have interns around. I could not find another company that emphasized collaboration as much as Viasat does.”
For D’Amico, that remains true. She is part of commercial mobility’s service foundation team, developing software and tools her Viasat coworkers use to provide in-flight service to airlines.
“It involves a lot of new tools and software I’ve never used before, so every day I’m learning new things,” she said. “We might be given a problem like, ‘Our software builds are taking too long,’ and we get the freedom to design the best solution using the tools we see fit. It’s interesting and rewarding, and I feel like I’m really growing in this position.”
In addition to the professional growth D’Amico’s found at Viasat, the company is also woven into her social life.
D’Amico was a triathlete who’s now focused on cycling, a passion that sprang from seeing the enthusiasm fellow cyclists in San Diego and at Viasat had about the sport.
“Viasat gives me the freedom to really take advantage of these passions; I feel like I have the time to be an engineer but also to be an athlete,” she said. “It’s also how I’ve been staying mentally sane during COVID.”
She lives with two other Viasat employees, whom she met through a Viasat New Grads Facebook page.
“We’ve met a lot of other young people through the New Grads employee resource group, and now we have one huge Viasat New Grad group,” she said. “We used to get lunch together at work, and now we’re doing FaceTime calls. We’re all very, very close.”
Like most Viasat employees, D’Amico is working from home, and her relationships with Viasat teammates, roommates and friends have been key in dealing with the challenges of living through a pandemic.
“From the start of this, we all had our moments where we felt lost and stressed and unable to cope,” D’Amico said. “But we‘ve been able to talk about that, and because it’s the same company, we’re truly going through the same things. That’s been really helpful. I think we’re all just really grateful we have such a supportive community and are able to do our jobs so effectively from home.
“Every day, I count my blessings that I ended up with this company because I feel they’re handling this really well, It’s a stressful and difficult situation, but all things considered, I feel fortunate.”