Alumni Spotlight: Tara Nagar '14
In the eight years since graduating from Durham Academy, Tara Nagar ’14 has discovered a passion for computer science and engineering, made multiple cross-country moves and is now helping to reimagine the landscape of temporary labor. And on top of busy work lives, she and fellow DA alum Jason Lapidus ’15 are staying busy as new “dog parents” to Baci, their chocolate Labrador.
Q — What have you been up to since graduating from Durham Academy?
A — After graduating from DA, I didn’t go far from home and spent the next four years at Duke. When I graduated in 2018, I accepted a job as a software engineer at Fanatics in San Francisco, which was a job I was offered after spending the summer before my senior year as an intern (two other DA grads, MacKenzi Simpson ’16 and Spencer Jenkins ’16 currently work at Fanatics!). I spent the next 3.5 years there (with a year spent in Durham starting at the beginning of the pandemic) before moving to Miami at the beginning of 2022 to start a new job!
Q — What led you to pursue a career in computer science and engineering?
A — I actually did not take a computer science course until the second semester of my first year at Duke, but I had always been interested in math, languages and logic/puzzles. That first intro-level course opened a door to a new world of my passions and gave me the tools to build things and solve problems.
I was then lucky enough to be part of a program called Duke Technology Scholars (started by Monica Jenkins, DA trustee and alumni parent!), which aims to encourage diversity in technology fields by fostering community and exposing scholars to a variety of experiences. Two key aspects of the program are providing scholars with support during their technology internship processes and enabling cohabitation with other scholars over summers. Between my junior and senior years, DTech helped me land as an intern at Fanatics and live with a group of 10 women from Duke who were doing various tech internships all across the Bay Area.
Computer science and engineering was a fairly new thing to me at the time, but the support and encouragement I received at my internship and through the DTech program gave me the confidence and skills to stay in the field after graduating from Duke.
Q — What drew you to taking the leap of moving across the country and helping to start a new company?
A — It was definitely an unexpected move! Our Chief Technology Officer/my boss at Traba was a coworker of mine at Fanatics, and he left in April 2021 to make the SF-to-Miami move himself to co-found the company. In July, another Fanatics coworker (who was also a DTech scholar with me) left to join Traba. So when the two of them reached out in December to recruit me as a Founding Software Engineer, I was excited by the opportunity to work with them again. Traba is committed as a company to working in-person in Miami as we build this company together to maximize our productivity and collaboration. Honestly, the decision to join the company wasn’t an obvious one; it would mean leaving the friends and job I loved in San Francisco. Ultimately, I was drawn to the impact I would be able to make in the company and the impact that the company could have on the world. Traba is like an Uber for temporary labor, and we are building a marketplace that connects companies in the light-industrial space (events, warehouses and distribution centers) who are in need of temporary labor with the workers to fill those positions.
Part of the appeal of the job was the potential to positively impact the lives of these workers, many of whom are working paycheck to paycheck. Over the past four months, I have heard feedback from so many of the workers on how much they love Traba because it offers them opportunities to pick up shifts that work with their own schedules. As a result, they’ve been able to afford gifts for their families or to repair their car or to start a business with the extra income. We’re also providing labor to businesses and enabling them to maximize their productivity, so it’s exciting and motivating to be building a product that’s working in the best interest of all three parties involved — us, the workers and the businesses. All of my coworkers are committed and bought in to making Traba succeed and inspired and motivated by our mission.
Finally, we’re backed by some of the most successful investors (early in Airbnb, Doordash, among others) so we’re motivated to succeed from many angles. We know that we can be bigger than Amazon and Facebook and make people's lives better while doing so. It was ultimately an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up! (We’re growing a lot and looking to hire quickly across the company in the next several months, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to chat or are interested in applying!)
Q — What are your interests away from work?
A — I love doing things outdoors and being active! When I was living in San Francisco, I loved being able to take advantage of all of the natural beauty in the area, whether it was going on a hike along the coast, going for a run to explore different neighborhoods, relaxing in a park or on the beach, or swimming in the bay. Since moving to Miami, I’ve enjoyed still being close to the ocean and being able to take walks or run along the water. I have a 9-month-old, water-loving chocolate Lab, so recently lots of things I enjoy doing outside of work involve him! I also enjoy cooking and baking, and often find myself trying a new recipe when I have free time or need an activity to de-stress.
Q — What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A — I’m committed to the long-term game with Traba, and our goal is to IPO after we’ve expanded nationally and ultimately internationally. For me, that hopefully means in 10 years I’ll have been a part of taking a company public and hopefully have lived outside of the U.S. helping with the expansions. However, I wouldn’t have said five years ago that today I’d be living in Miami, so anything can happen!