Tell us about yourself.
I graduated in 2019 with a Master’s in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Now, I am a software engineer at a start-up in NYC. I live with my amazing roommates, and my cat Frankie. When I am not coding, I love watching Netflix, cooking new foods, and exploring the city with my friends!
How did you decide to get into technology?
I’ve always loved maths, so I applied to a magnet public high school that had a Math, Science and Engineering program, but I did not have a real idea of what I wanted to do. Over the summer we were required to take a technology course, and I chose to take an Android Programming class. I loved it! I took AP CS the next year, and a circuits class the next summer. When I got to college, I was originally a Computer Engineering major, but I realized I did not enjoy my electrical engineering courses as much. So, I switched my major to Computer Science and never looked back.
How would you describe your experience in the industry so far?
So far, I would definitely describe my experience as transformative. Looking back on when I started working a year ago, I have learned so much and grown a ton as an engineer.
What does a typical day in your job look like?
My day usually starts with getting caught up on messages in Slack, emails, and checking to see if anyone has left comments on my code. I will work to address those comments, and then write out my goals for what I want to work on for the day. My team has engineers who work EST hours from Dhaka, so my stand-up is usually in the afternoon after lunch. During stand-up I’ will give my team an update on what I did the day before, and what I am planning to do today, as well as anything I might be blocked on. Then, I will code for a couple of hours while listening to music to keep me focused. On meeting days, I don’t get much coding done since I’m in sprint review, planning meetings, and 1:1s for most of the day. But this only happens once a week!
Has your expectation of what the tech world is like matched the reality? How?
Definitely not. I never realized how much teamwork is involved in engineering! In school you’re told to work on your coding assignments by yourself for the most part, with the exception of a couple of group projects.
However, software engineering in the tech world is mostly teamwork, and having good communication skills is so important. The teamwork aspect of engineering is actually one of my favourite parts.
How do you navigate working with men daily (if you do) and how do you make sure to get your voice heard?
So far, I have been lucky to work with male teammates that advocate for me and actively seek out my input. They have been really supportive in helping me feel confident providing technical input as a first-year engineer. It is tough at times, because I am usually a quieter and more reserved person, and I can be too nice. Sometimes this is interpreted as lack of authority and confidence in a male-dominated workplace. I’ve been working on being more blunt and challenging people more often (in a respectful way) when I disagree. Even though it goes against my nature, I think I’ve been more successful in making sure my voice is heard.
If you could change one thing about your journey in tech so far, what would it be?
I think it would have helped me to realize earlier that brand names don’t matter as much as having a supportive team environment when looking for a job.
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
The best advice my manager has given me is not to be afraid to ask questions!
Good leaders encourage others to feel comfortable asking any and every question, and never penalize someone for asking for help.
When you’re starting your journey in the tech world, don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you move up and become a leader give that same energy back and help the people around you.
What advice do you have for younger ladies aiming to pursue a career in technology?
You are smart, capable, and you deserve to be where you are! Don’t compare yourself to others, instead make choices that will allow you to learn and grow the most as an engineer. Remember that you should not feel pressured to be studying, or working on side projects all the time. You are still an amazing engineer even when you are not doing something technical.
I would like to send a massive thanks to Daniella for taking the time out to answer the questions above. I resonated with what you said about not paying too much attention to brand names when applying for jobs. I believe that the most important thing should be that one's work is helping to make a difference regardless of the company where one works at. Wishing you the best with your professional journey.
You can follow Daniella on her Instagram listed above.
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