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#STEMStories: Jessie, Software Engineer, USA

#STEMStories: Jessie, Software Engineer, USA

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do?

Hi, I’m Jessie. I’m a software engineer. I worked at Google for over five years (on Google Drive, Google Search, and Google Maps) but I recently moved to Hudson River Trading, a high frequency trading firm.

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I’ve loved math since I was a child and always wanted to find a career that was math heavy. In early high school, I decided I wanted to work at CERN studying quantum physics. My senior year I took a computer science class and absolutely loved it, but didn’t even consider at the time that I could do that as a career. The next year I started college at Georgia Tech as a Physics major. But after meeting a lot of people studying Computer Science, I was jealous of how much fun their classes looked. So I switched my major to CS.

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

I’ve always loved logic puzzles and so much of my work gives me that same feeling. When I leave work not knowing how to solve something, I’ll often wake up with a new way to approach the problem. I can’t wait to get to work and try that new idea out.

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

I often find myself stressed when working on something I’m not making much progress in. And I’m so much less creative when I feel discouraged so it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. I try to spend some time working on something I know how to do. Getting that boost from solving a problem puts me in a better place to take another look at what’s stressing me out.

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

I never really had a role model growing up. At the time, it seemed weird to me that other people would want to follow in the footsteps of someone else. Looking back though, I think part of why I never empathized with my friends’ role models to the same extent is because they were all men and I had trouble seeing myself in their position. There were plenty of women doing things that excited me, but no one talked about them. Maybe if they had, I would have found a role model.

6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

This is a story from a long time ago but I think it’s worth telling. Back in high school I was on the robotics team but I wasn’t allowed to touch the robot because I was “too ditzy” and “might break it”. At the time, I didn’t put two and two together that I was the only girl on the team and the only one not allowed to touch the robot, but that seems really obvious in retrospect (I’m not sure my teammates even realized that at the time either). So I decided I would work with that. I redid our website and it looked fabulous. I declared myself VP of Marketing and doubled the size of the club over a year. At the time I was really proud of how I’d handled it. But in the end, I never did get to build a robot.

My advice to myself would be to not take no for an answer. There’s many debates about the best way for women to advocate for themselves. But at the very least, I would tell myself to try.

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  • While all STEM fields have pieces in common, they can also be very different. I love physics, math, and programming. But I find myself bored by Chemistry. Take a lot of classes to give yourself a chance to find what you love.
  • There’s this myth that all STEM fields have a good job market pay really well. That’s not universally true. When you get to the point that you need to start thinking about careers, spend time researching your options in different STEM fields to make sure the career you’re heading towards is one you’ll be happy with.
  • There are going to be things you don’t understand at first. It happens to us all. But try to develop what’s called a “growth mindset”. Instead of taking that failure as evidence that you’re not smart enough, use it to push yourself to become smarter. The most successful people I know don’t never fail, they just take failure as a challenge.

8. How do you measure your success?

I often find myself measuring myself against others, even if they’ve been on the team or in the industry far longer than me. I try to just do my best and measure myself against that: did I do my best on this, and if I did then that’s success. But I won’t pretend that’s easy.

9. Where can we find out more about your work?

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

I’m very active on Twitter. @jessiedotjs

Please feel free to reach out if you need advice, resume reviews, etc.