Software Engineer, Google
I was born/grew up in: Nahant, MA, USA
I now live in: San Francisco, CA, USA
I completed my training/education at: Dartmouth College
Describe what you do at work.
I work on a small team, which means that as a software engineer I get to participate in many parts of the software design and production process. I work on systems design and architecture, choose technologies, create mocks of websites, assist with project management, and of course, code. Although software engineering does require a lot of time spent coding independently at your desk, it is much more of a team activity than many people realize. I design together with my teammates, and we review each other's work. We brainstorm together often. My background in STEM, including science and biology, helps me approach problems from a more analytical perspective, which helps me no matter whether I am coding or doing any other part of my job.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect peoples lives?
I help keep online data secure and private, which is increasingly important as people trust companies online with more and more of their data. Issues around online data privacy have been in the news a lot lately, which reminds me how important what I do really is.
What motivates you in your career?
I enjoy learning what technology can do when applied to other fields. For example, I am excited about the potential of using computing to discover new trends in social and biological data. I enjoy my current job because I am learning a lot about infrastructure, software practices, privacy, and security, all of which are essential in order to apply technology to the difficult and sensitive problems of today.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
In high school, I thought I would be a biologist or environmental scientist. When I went to college, I worked in a few labs and realized through experience that physical lab work may not be for me (I am uncoordinated and messed up experiments frequently!). When looking into other things to try out, I stumbled upon a bioinformatics internship at the University of Iowa between my junior and senior year of college. It was there that I became excited about what computer science can do in other fields. I took a lot of computer science classes my senior year, and after lots of interviews, found a company that took a chance on my despite the fact that I was just starting out in software engineering and computer science. After a couple years at that company, I moved on to Google.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
My main hobby is competitive running! I am on an all-women's running team and I compete in races of all types, between 1500m or distance medley relay on the track all the way up to the marathon. I enjoy other types of exercise as well, in particular lifting weights as cross-training. I also enjoy spending more relaxed time outside - hiking, walking, going to the beach.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
At no point, even when I was actively interviewing for Google, did I feel like my engineering skills were good enough to be there. I realize now that that was imposter syndrome - it's important to believe in yourself and try things out, even if they seem out of reach.