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Show and Tell: Sarah Solter

Show and Tell: Sarah Solter

A Q&A with an IXL Engineering Development Manager

April 29, 2015

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Life at IXL

Meet Sarah Solter, engineering development manager! In her decade at IXL Learning, she’s worked on pre-IXL.com products and helped to create IXL as you know it today. These days, Sarah is leading a team working on top-secret future product for the company. Can she tell us what it is? And if she does, will she have to kill us? Keep reading to find out!

The Basics

Name and title: Sarah Solter, Engineering Development Manager

Has been at IXL for: 10 years

Hometown and current city: From Goleta, Calif., now lives in Boulder, Colo.

Life at IXL

You started working at IXL Learning before the IXL.com product had been created. What was that like?

It was a really small company—there were only 12 people when I joined! I worked on various features for Quia Books (an interactive online textbook platform) and Quia Web (a site that allows teachers to create their own activities and quizzes with built-in grading). When we developed IXL, some of the major features I worked on were the back-end logic for the reports, search function, and subscriptions.

Currently, you’re working on a top-secret product for IXL Learning. What can you tell us about it?

I manage a team that’s working on a new product for the company…we’re not really saying much more about it! I spend my day coordinating between my team of engineers who are developing the product, the QA team that tests the things we develop, the visual design team, and the infrastructure team. I also review my team’s designs and code, and make decisions about features and how they should work.

What do you like about working at IXL?

I’m very fortunate to work somewhere with really smart, really motivated people. Everyone here cares about what they’re doing and making the best product possible, whatever their part in that might be. The other reason I’ve stayed at IXL so long is that I keep learning and growing. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to work with upper management and have learned so much from them.

Life beyond IXL

What do you like to do in your free time?

One thing that dominates my free time these days is music. I sing in a community choir, and I’ve also been working on writing songs in recent years, sort of a pop-rock style. My husband started learning guitar, and we’ve been collaborating on songwriting and learning about music production in our home studio. It takes and incredible amount of time and we’ll spend a whole weekend on one song!

Tell us about someone you admire.

My grandmother on my mom’s side [see photo, right], who lived to be 94 years old, was a really great model for how to age well. She was really active—she swam almost daily in her community pool until she was 92 and she swam in the ocean into her 80s. She also stayed really engaged intellectually and creatively and started writing poetry in her 70s. She always tried to improve herself and be a better person right to the end. I want to age that way! 

What’s your favorite:

  • Food: Granola – I make my own and enjoy picking different combinations of nuts and dried fruit to put in it. Blueberry and almond is really good!
  • Musical artist: A singer-songwriter named Vienna Teng. She was a computer science major at Stanford who went off to do music full-time. She’s my idol and what I would want to be as a singer-songwriter! 

Just for fun

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Popcorn and Netflix! My husband and I watch a lot of shows on Netflix. We get a locally grown popcorn, Boulder Popcorn, and it’s seriously the best I’ve ever had. I can never go back to any other kind of popcorn!

Let’s play two truths and a lie! Tell us two true fun facts about yourself, and one lie. We’ll post the lie at the bottom of the blog post.

  • I studied Hebrew.
  • I was born in Switzerland.
  • I dropped out of a master’s program

Who would win in a battle between Spiderman and Batman? Batman and Superman?

I think in both fights, they would reach a draw and realize that they would be much more effective at fighting evil if they all worked together! 

 

What was Sarah’s lie? She wasn’t born in Switzerland, though she has lived there! Of dropping out of her master’s program, she says, “I became really burned out and stressed, and took a leave of absence to work for a while. I found the job at IXL and after working here for a few months, I was really happy and decided I didn’t need to go back to school. Looking back, it was a great decision!”

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