When did you first become interested in your field?

I became exposed to web development in middle school through Neopets, which allowed profiles to be created and edited with HTML/CSS. This sparked an immediate interest and I would spend hours learning and coding up profiles for myself and my friends! From there, I moved on to self taught PHP and Javascript, took my first formal computer science course during my junior year of high school, and I was hooked!



Have you ever experienced gender based discrimination? If so, how did you overcome it?

Many of the computer science courses I took were heavily skewed male — I remember taking a class where I was one of three women in a class of 60! Despite being in the overwhelming minority in classes like this, I have never felt like I was being discriminated against due to my gender. It was difficult to shake the feeling that I had to prove myself somehow to my professors and peers, but I did learn that being confident in my own abilities is all that really matters. 



Do you have any stories of a time when you doubted yourself or your abilities? How did you pull yourself out of that and what was something that helped you regain your confidence?

In my second year of university, I became a supplemental tutor for two computer science courses and was responsible for leading tutoring sessions of up to 20 students. I definitely had imposter syndrome for the first week or so — I was afraid that I was not intelligent or engaging enough and I was constantly worried that I would slip up and inadvertently explain something incorrectly! By the time a few weeks had passed I had gained a lot of confidence, made personal connections to many of my students, and felt totally at home in my role. Time and practice were key, along with the knowledge that mistakes are inevitable, but every mistake is a chance to grow!



Do you have a woman you look up to/is your role model? If so, who is it and why?

Ada Lovelace is one of my most powerful female role models! She has an incredible story — she was born in 1815 and learned math and science at a time when access to STEM education was largely inaccessible for women. She worked with Charles Babbage on the analytical engine, and contributed her own ideas that resulted in the very first computer program. Lovelace is proof that absolutely anyone is capable of great things at any age and under any circumstance!



How did your experiences (internships, research, etc.) help you decide on a career path?

I’m still very early in my career and wouldn’t say I’ve decided on a career path yet, but fortunately that’s totally okay! My past internships and work experience have all been related to software development, but I was able to gain exposure to many different fields — big data, machine learning, and systems design, to name a few. Every new opportunity has taught me more about what I should be looking for in a new role (and what I should be avoiding!)



What is the most important mantra to remember as a woman in tech?

Stay patient and trust your journey! Don’t get distracted or blinded by the paths others are taking around you — keep an open mind, a good attitude, and faith in yourself. 



Do you have any advice for young women interested or going into your field or a message you would like to share with the young ladies watching this?

The advice I would have wanted to hear is that it’s perfectly acceptable to dislike something or find it too challenging. Of course it’s important to follow through with the commitments you’ve made and give them your best shot, but moving forward it’s even more important to be honest with yourself and choose opportunities that you are best suited for, even if they don’t fit your original vision. Finding things that don’t stick and keeping an open mind will bring you that much closer to stumbling upon a true passion!



Why did you decide to speak at this event? What motivated or inspired you to share your experiences?

As a young girl, I was interested in technology but was largely ignorant about what my options were, different ways a career could begin, and where and how I could fit into the tech world. I am young enough to remember this uncertainty and confusion, and although I definitely don’t have it all figured out myself, I’ve learned many things through my experiences that I would have liked to know earlier! I absolutely believe that we need more women in technology and I loved this opportunity to share my advice and experiences with aspiring young women.