Early Career

Sneha Jayaprakash is kickstarting her career

Sneha joins our ranks as another socially-minded budding entrepreneur; she likes thrift clothes, is already tri-lingual, and her startup just kick-started $13,000. Pretty freaking cool, right? Read on for her story.

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a newly minted graduate from UC San Diego, and I’ll be working at Microsoft full-time as a Program Manager starting in January. I’ve always been interested in the STEM fields, but becoming a software engineer was a complete accident. I actually applied for a Bioengineering major, and later realized that I had to take computer science classes for my Bioinformatics specialization. After one Intro to Java class, I was hooked, and immediately switched into the Computer Science department.

My favorite aspect of software development is understanding how that technology will be used to impact someone’s life, though I love algorithms and back-end development. I spend my free time learning new languages, both programming and linguistic! I am trilingual (English, French, and Tamil), and I am hoping to master Spanish by the end of this year.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I try to live sustainably, so most of my clothes come from a women’s clothing exchange group at UC San Diego, thrift stores, or small local vendors at street fairs. Reduce, reuse, recycle! I’m also really sentimental about clothing and jewelry that other people give me, so I tend to wear gifts more often than the clothes I buy for myself.

The red shirt was a gift from my grandfather, who passed away last year, the flats are from my aunt and uncle, the tan top is from my mom, and the octopus necklace is from my former college roommate.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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Just go for it! Don’t overthink it and let yourself feel overwhelmed by the challenge. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and if STEM is what you’re passionate about, the best way to get involved is to immerse yourself in the field.

Start applying for internships even if you feel you aren’t ready, because real-world applications are the best way to learn. Join recreational STEM clubs, set up lunches with professors and mentors to learn more about their journeys, and experiment with new technologies on your own.

We live in the golden age of the Internet, and there are so many free resources available to you. Don’t let self-doubt or the impostor syndrome keep you from pursuing your interests – while that’s easier said than done, take it one day at a time, and set small goals for yourself day by day to learn a new skill or make a new connection.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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Outside of work and school, I run a social good company called Giventure, with the goal of enabling anyone to volunteer anywhere, anytime. Our mobile and web platforms are your personal assistant for volunteering, helping you find community service opportunities with nonprofit organizations supporting your favorite causes.

Running Giventure has introduced me to some truly incredible opportunities; I was recently a panelist at San Diego Startup Week, and last summer, I was invited to be a speaker at the Special Olympics Youth Summit. We also completed a successful Kickstarter campaign just last month and raised over $13,000. The platform will be publicly launched by the end of the year, so if you’re interested, follow us at fb.com/giventure and sign up to join the community at www.giventure.org.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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I post pictures of all of the octopuses I run across on my Instagram as @simplysneha, and I’m on Twitter as @thisissnehaaa.

Y’all definitely need to check out Sneha’s octopus photos, and the giventure site – their homepage is as cool as the concept (which is saying a lot!)

All the best,

Dona & Beth

Students

Leah Xu Shows Growth Mindset

Haha, when we met Leah, we knew she was a lady after our own hearts: loves the color yellow, augmented/mixed reality and believes that people in the STEM fields are incredibly supportive and will go out of their way to help newcomers?  Fibonacci Sequins has been incredible for making new friends and Leah is no exception. Read on to hear about this adventurous young woman’s next move:

Tell us a little about you.

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I’m constantly growing. Growth has been the core tenant of my mindset since I was young and I’m always trying to develop a few areas of myself at a time.

This summer, I’m traveling for three months. I started in cities that are familiar and filled with great friends: Seattle and San Francisco (+the Bay Area). I’ve interned in both places so it was amazing to catch up with my old teams and stay with some former roommates and friends.

I’m currently writing this from Rome, having just said goodbye to two friends that I’ve been traveling with for the last few weeks. I’m exploring by myself for the next month. I’ve never traveled alone for an extended time, but it’s freeing to learn how to do things by myself.  I’m ending my trip in China, where I will be meeting my mom. We’re going to Shanghai, which is a new city for me. I’m planning on growing a second stomach for the street food once I’m there.

I only started computer science in college, but I spent the entire time immersed in the tech world, and it’s been really nice to step back for a bit. I was a two-time intern at Microsoft and Seattle is still my favorite city in the summer. The weather is perfect and there’s everything I could want in the city. Seattle turned me into an outdoors person. Running, hiking, and kayaking, I don’t do any of these activities at home in Maryland.

I just finished my degree Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, and in the fall I’m starting a new job in Stamford, Connecticut as a Product Manager at Bridgewater Associates. The people at the company are amazing and I’m really excited to learn from them.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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Today, I brought two different outfits with me.

A few months ago, I discovered my perfect pair of jeans; the Nico by Hudson Jeans. I love dark wash skinny jeans, I think they go with every outfit. But this pair also has the perfect amount of stretch to them so that they stay comfortable all day. Better yet, they don’t stretch out so they look as perfect at the end of the night as they did when I first put them on. I paired the jeans with a teal cami and a sheer sleeveless yellow blouse. I’m wearing nude pumps. I’ve had the heels for years and they remain one of my most comfortable pairs.  My purse is bright yellow. I love the color. It’s never dull and will always cheer me up, especially on a gray day. I wear a lot of bright yellow, my friend jokes it’s because I’m an extrovert and the color is eye-popping, upon reflection he might be a little correct.

My other outfit is a black floral dress: Nothing screams summer like a sundress. I grabbed the dress at a crazy end of the year sale at Urban Outfitters and paid close to nothing. I’m wearing a white cardigan. I like the contrast between the black dress and the white cardigan and it prevents me from freezing in the chilly air-conditioned office buildings. I’m wearing nude sandals with this outfit, bought with my freshman year roommate in D.C.

I always wear a watch. Despite being a technology enthusiast, I haven’t gotten into the smartwatch trend. I love that my watch can go years before I have to worry about the battery. It’s also great when I’m in a meeting or talking to someone one-on-one so I can keep track of the time without distracting myself from the conversation.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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Over the years I’ve learned how to dress better for my figure. I’m rather petite and it took me a while to figure out what outfits would enhance my stature. I used to like having a lot of clothes, but over time, I realized that I don’t like most of them so now I focus on just buying clothing that I love, rather than articles that are a great price. Maybe it’s just a part of growing up.

I wear a lot of mid-thigh to knee length dresses, which I find are much more comfortable than individual bottoms. I’ve also started to really love outerwear. Trenches, pea coats, and leather jackets are my staples throughout the spring, fall, and winter. I love heels but I’ve spent the last few years on a gigantic college campus so I default to flats. I make exceptions for boots, though

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

IMG_8067Try it. Technology is no longer just a niche industry, instead it has permeated every other aspect of the world. Being a good technologist now makes you more capable in every other discipline; The skills are almost universally transferable, so don’t turn away from a field with so much potential without giving it an honest attempt.

If you’re worried about culture fit, the STEM world is much closer and more tight-knit than the alienating reports that permeate the media. Although it’s not the most diverse community (yet!) as a whole, the people in these fields are incredibly supportive and will go out of their way to help newcomers. It’s one of the few fields that regularly gives its interns/new hires exciting and business critical projects that you can work on from Day 1.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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At Bitcamp, a hackathon hosted by my school, I created an Augmented Language Immersion System (ALIS) with my best friends, Kate Tolstaya and Brent Schlotfeldt. It’s really just a fancy way to say we hacked a Google Cardboard to do a live stream of the world and used MetaMind’s image recognition algorithms to identify objects and translate the words into a target language.

Augmented reality really excites me, as do languages and culture – I used to want to learn all of the world’s languages when I was younger. I’ve since shifted my focus to programming languages, but human languages still fascinate me.

I can’t wait until technology advances to the point where augmented reality becomes indispensable in the day to day – just imagine all the ways the world would be enhanced when information is deeply integrated into the world, rather than just a distracting notification.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / GitHub / leahxu.com
We 100% believe in Lean’s vision that someday (soon!) Augmented/Mixed Reality will become an integral part of the world and will help make our lives better and richer–than than being a nerdy distraction. We hope she will let us join her in the journey to make that a reality!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Jamie Westfall Answers the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything

Beth had the pleasure of meeting Jamie during a speaking engagement in Florida. She was immediately taken by this young woman’s brightly coloured outlook on life…and then discovered our favorite thing: a multi-hyphenate!  Read on to hear about how Jamie (LITERALLY) juggles her fascinating life. 

Tell us a little about you.

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My name is Jamie Westfall and I just finished my first year at the University of Florida. I’m majoring in computer engineering so that once I graduate I can contribute toward the complete automation of human life- I want the next generation to live in a world in which life isn’t treated as a competition, and everyone can spend their time on earth comfortably. I have decided to dedicate my career to helping achieve this as quickly as possible while simultaneously working to correct the environmental destruction our species has caused (and continues to cause).

I’ve always been really interested in ancient history and learning about the experiences humans have lived through in different time periods. For this reason, I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. Whether a book is factual, loosely based on history, or is completely imaginary, I love the feeling of being transported into a different world that reading can create. I’m particularly a fan of science fiction and fantasy- some of the authors I admire most are Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Isaac Asimov. I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and loving it. Part of the reason why I’m entering the field of computer engineering is that machinery and programming allows us to control our surroundings. It essentially feels like we are creating our own magic; with the wave of a hand we can procure soap, water, and hot air in restrooms now, to prevent the invisible spread of sickness. It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come as a species in the past few centuries, and I want to do everything I can to take the process further.

I generally spend my free time reading, making art, and seeing bands perform. I also love going hiking and being outdoors; it’s an interesting concept that nature has the ability to appear so beautiful to us, even after we spend our entire lives here. During the school year most of my time is occupied with assignments, studying, and club activities – next year I’ll be an officer of three clubs at my university: Humanists on Campus, Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and UF Objects in Motion (a group that practices and performs circus tricks).

I’m excited to return to school in the fall, but for now I’m really enjoying the summer – I’m in Indiana for an internship with Cummins doing 3D design and analysis for engine parts. The specific division of the company I work in identifies issues with old models of parts and designs ways to refurbish them when broken so that they can be salvaged instead of replaced with new parts. It’s been an amazing experience so far, and I’ve definitely been enjoying getting to explore a different part of the country.

Describe yourself in one word

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“Average.” I mean, I have my own hobbies, personality traits, and style preferences, but then again, so does everyone else. My characteristics aren’t unique to me, I believe that we mostly become a reflection of the people and things around us. However, we do have the ability to filter through it all and attempt to make sense of it in our own ways.

I draw many aspects of my personal philosophy from absurdism. I try my best to enjoy life and make life enjoyable for others; I relish ridiculousness and have turned myself into a bit of a spectacle (over the past five years, my hair has been every color of the rainbow). I’m also a member of UF’s circus tricks club—this past semester I learned how to ride a five-foot-tall unicycle and how to juggle rings and clubs (you can buy holographic ones!), among various other juggling tricks. Making a fool out of myself can be a sort of catharsis for me, while also giving other people something to laugh at.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I like clothing that has character, which is why I enjoy customizing mine in my free time. Whenever something rips or gets worn out, I sew/glue it back together, add a patch, or make more rips so that the rest of the clothing item matches. In this manner, I have altered my black long sleeved shirt, pair of jeans, backpack, tights, creepers, red flannel shirt, and vans that I’m wearing in the photos.

First outfit: My style preferences through the years tend to be influenced by the music genres I primarily listen to at the time, yet as with my music taste, I incorporate the new into the old rather than replacing it. Recently I’ve been listening to ska music more than anything, but I still love the genres I primarily listened to in high school (mainly a variety of rock, punk, and metal), and my wardrobe reflects it. The shoes are Mondo Creepers, the backpack is by Earth Bound Trading,  jeans from American Eagle and the striped shirts are thrifted.

Second outfit: I got these pants at a small Himalayan shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. They’re insanely comfortable, it feels like wearing a cloud around your legs. The great thing about this outfit is that it can double as pajamas, which is pretty convenient for taking naps. My hat is practically a wearable pillow and has the added bonus of making me feel like some sort of elf. The shoes are Vans and the flannel and sunglasses are thrifted.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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I love wearing bright colors and mixed patterns. To me, the goal of fashion should not be to turn ourselves into some untouchable image of perfection, but rather to give other people a reason to come up and talk to us. Projecting your personality onto your clothing makes it much easier for this to happen; complimenting or asking about someone’s outfit is an easy doorway to starting a conversation.

My current style is an accumulation of all of the different stylistic phases I’ve gone through. As my taste changes, rather than buying a new wardrobe and donating the old clothes, I prefer to rework clothing items and find new ways for them to be incorporated into my current style. I try to avoid buying a lot of new clothing. In America we collectively have this notion that clothing should stay in our lives for a couple of years and then be disposed of to make way for the new. This fast-paced system is wasteful, unnecessary, and it comes at the expense of the environment. And with cheap clothing comes the need for cheap labor— often in underdeveloped countries people in clothing factories work for cents per hour in inhumane conditions to create our seasonal trends which will be fashionably “out” after another few months. Instead of continuing this cycle, I think that if you still like an item of clothing, it’s worth trying to rework it into something new when it gets worn out instead of getting rid of it.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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My advice is: don’t worry about it. You have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do in college. And don’t be afraid to change majors—if you realize you don’t enjoy STEM jobs, find something that you do enjoy. Let your interests come first and you’ll find a way to turn them into a career.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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I haven’t done anything particularly remarkable with my life, especially compared to all of the incredible people featured in this blog. Nevertheless, I try to enact change on a small level through my everyday life. I’m a vegetarian because factory farming results in horrific conditions for both the animals and factory workers alike. In our current system, the quality of life of factory workers is exploited for the financial gain of the few and the collective satisfaction of our taste buds. It’s not something we like to think about, but there are people spending 10+ hours a day performing repetitive and often hazardous labor being denied bathroom breaks and yet are still struggling to financially support their families because having a menial job is better than having no job. Too often I’ve found that fortunate people seem to think that their “success” in life (i.e, money) is gained entirely due to their own hard work and wit, rather than primarily an incredibly lucky combination of being born with intelligence and having access to resources; only around 10% of the global population has graduated from or is currently attending a college. I believe that globalizing higher education and equalizing the quality of life for all people should be a priority. This is the main reason I feel drawn to a career in computer engineering; full automation of work is necessary in order to realize this goal. The substitution of human labor with machines has been and will continue to be a challenging transition. Instead of meeting it with opposition, we need to recognize that it signifies a momentous achievement of mankind as a whole, and embrace the changes that are about to take place, beginning with shorter working hours and a shift in types of available jobs.

While myself boycotting meat and buying eggs and cheese only from local free-range farms is obviously not going to singlehandedly affect the industry, vegetarianism as a worldwide movement will result in change- however, this alone is not enough to reverse the damage that humans have inflicted upon the earth. In addition to the human and animal costs, factory farming has had disastrous effects on on the environment- deforestation, the massive production of methane, and chemical runoff are not going to disappear unless we become proactive in repairing the climate and preventing further change. I had the incredible fortune of getting to attend a speech given by Jane Goodall this past year, and it’s truly inspiring to me how even at the age of 82 she continues to dedicate her entire life to enacting social and environmental change. In my own life so far, I feel as though I haven’t done anything significant enough to contribute, however, small changes in routine on a grand scale can have a tremendous impact. Using cloth bags, reusable water bottles, and reusable containers instead of disposable plastic are a few ways waste can be effortlessly be reduced. I also make sure to collect and recycle other materials like glass, metals, and paper. As my career develops, I hope to improve the lives of humans while simultaneously working to counteract the negative environmental impact we have on the planet.

And there you have it. We feel so blessed to be able to meet fascinating people like Jamie, who are actively trying to use tech to make the world a better place. That’s what we’re all about at Fibonacci Sequins and we hope to continue to meet more and more of you. If you are, or know, people who should be featured, please do get in touch!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Industry Veterans

All the World is James Whittaker’s Stage

This week’s Fibonacci Sequins post is dedicated to a very special person. James has been Dona’s longtime friend and mentor and she credits much of her career successes to the advice that he is not shy about giving.  After she read his Career Superpowers book on an offhand recommendation, she knew she had to meet this Master of Stagecraft.  After a month of stalking and hustling, she attended one of his jaw-dropping talks and convinced him they should obviously be friends. 

A few weeks ago, we took advantage of a sunny spring day to do a fun photoshoot at James’s fave spot: a place with WiFi and beer. We did get yelled at for climbing a tree and kicking people out politely asking people to let us use their table, but hey, rules are someone else’s opinion, no?

Today we’re happy to showcase a behind-the-scenes, dare we say, *softer* side of  Mr. Do Epic Shit!

Tell us a little about you.

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I specialize in enjoying life. I’m really picky about the activities I engage in and the people I surround myself with. Life is short and working on cool shit and being around interesting people is, I’ve found, both the meaning of life and the secret to success. It’s a simple philosophy but if you think about it the work you do and the people you spend your time with have a great deal of impact on your life. Whatever else you do is minor in comparison. If there is anything you really want to control it is those two things. If you want a better life, those are the two levers you need to adjust.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I have on cool socks. Socks are the fashion equivalent of your soul. They aren’t on full external display and people have to be around you for a while before getting a glimpse of them. Mine have little beer mugs on them (we found them!). Yep, that’s my soul all right … it’s a little malty. I enjoy exerting my personality with my clothes. I wear a lot of music t’s that I buy when I go to concerts with my kids. And, of course, I have built a brand out of my “do epic shit” shirts. Those are fun and almost serve as a warning to people about what I am really like as a person.

(Um, side note, THOSE SHOES YO! These want to be as cool, but nowhere near as cool as the ones above)

I have to admit I am attracted to people with a sense of style that reflects their inner self. I go out of my way to talk to people dressed a little weird or who have a look that broadcasts their inner personality. I want to get to know them to see if my impression of their appearance fits the person. I do like people with style. There are enough boring people in this world already.

This is one reason I don’t wear suits. The European suit culture, to me, screams conformity and I am glad its fallen out of fashion over here. Especially on the west coast. Those things have too much cloth in all the wrong places.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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My style is low-effort. I am blessed by sharing my life with people who like to shop. They pick things out for me. Sometimes I come home to a great big pile of clothes and I get to try on things while they assess my look. I love those days! Whenever there is an intersection of “dad that looks good on you” and “this feels good on me” then I keep it. Anything that fails either of those tests goes back.

When you grow up wearing mostly hand-me-downs, clothes that fit and feel right are a big deal. And when someone with style tells you it looks good … well, I don’t care who you are, getting compliments on how you look feels good. That’s right, I said it, looking good feels good. Go on demand my man card, I’ll gladly give it up.

Einstein famously didn’t give a shit about how he looked. I’m not so sure I believe that; he had the coolest hair and if he really didn’t care then he would have blended in but he didn’t. His clothes made him stand out. They made a statement. I am different. I am me. In “not caring” how he looked he made the biggest fashion statement of them all.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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Caution advised. Careers in STEM are great. Education in STEM … not so much. I think we over rotate on math and arcane facts and figures that just aren’t useful in real careers. When was the last time anyone, other than an 11th grade math teacher, needed to factor a trinomial in their actual job? STEM edu tends toward the rote but a STEM career is everything but rote. It requires a lot of creativity so do not let the educational system take away from your creative self. Never neglect the arts. Never neglect your creative lifestyle. If you are going to study STEM, get a creative side hustle going to ensure your creative juices remain nice and liquid.

Seriously, look at the true STEM heroes like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. They were creative as hell. They weren’t successful because they work in STEM fields but because of their creativity and critical thinking. The people who neglect their creativity end up being minions for those who don’t

Having said all that, learn to code. It’s the last human skill that will be useful after the robots take over.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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My most recent one, the class I am giving on Creativity. But ask me again next year and I’ll tell you something new. Like Bob Dylan said: those who aren’t busy reinventing themselves are busy dying. I don’t like resting on my past glories. I’ve done cool shit, but I did that cool shit yesterday and yesterday stopped mattering the moment the sun rose today. I disappointed a lot of people off when I stopped teaching my Career Superpowers class but I had to do it. It was getting too easy. I could just step up and slay it every time. I felt a need to challenge myself to do something new, something I have to learn to get good at. Something I might be a little scared of. Something that might just beat me.

People put a lot of expectations on you to keep doing what you are doing. They like to label you and freeze you in time. Don’t let them. That is the path of stagnation. You’ll grow old and have only one story to tell. I want to grow old and surprise my grandkids with stories they’ve never heard before. I want to do this every time I see them. I hope the last words out of my mouth just before I die are “guess what I just learned—“

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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@docjames on Twitter and at my new website docjamesw.com (recordings of his amazing talks!)

I also blog on medium.com/@docjamesw

And there you go. In typical James style. He arrived. He said smart things. He left us reeling and wondering what we’re even doing with our lives.  If you haven’t read Career Superpowers, James’s incredibly practical advice for the non-prodigies and non-privileged among us, yet you definitely should. We can say with 100% certainty: it changed our careers.  It taught her our most important skill: story-chasing.

We can’t wait to share with you what James does next. Hint: it’s going to be epic. 

Till next week!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Jill Jermyn – From Concerts to Coding

We met Jill during her Microsoft internship last summer (gosh it’s been a while) – we were delighted that she’d taken the initiative to bring props to the shoot! Dona was (of course) instantly drawn to Jill because of her beautiful writing accessories.

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a violinist-turned-engineer from New York. My first career was in music, and I played lots of concerts in my lifetime. I decided to study something new for fun 5 years ago, and it unexpectedly turned into my second career. Now I’m working on my PhD in Computer Science at Columbia University, where I study network security.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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Computer Science has enabled me to travel to really fun places, and everything I’m wearing here is part of a collection of things that I obtained during my travels.

I bought the dress in a small shop I found in Florence, Italy. It was a special occasion for me because the man who made the dress was one of the first people I had a long conversation with in Italian during my trip. All of his clothing is designed and made by hand with Italian fabrics, one piece per design. It was really fascinating to hear about all of his ideas and inspirations for the styles. The dress I’m wearing is one of his modern designs.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

IMG_8822I grew up in a family of artists and was always taught to make my appearance and lifestyle as artistic as my work. I believe that it is important to be surrounded at all times by objects that promote inspiration and artistic thought.

This is why I include many unique objects, in addition to my clothing, as part of my style. I always write with a fountain pen (this one is from Torino, Italy) on paper that I’ve collected from various cities (this pad holder is from Gubbio, Italy with paper from Alsace, France).

The mug was hand painted in a small city called Deruta in Umbria, Italy, where I met many fine artisans who inspire me every day. My shoes are from Spain, and the earrings are from a jewelry maker that I admire very much in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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I would strongly encourage it. I would also suggest that you speak to as many professionals in the field as possible to find out about what they do. I think a big part of the reason why I didn’t pursue a STEM field as my first career was that I didn’t know what type of career it could lead to.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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I can’t pick just one, but something that I feel happy with was a model of the LTE cellular network that I built for simulating attacks. I designed and implemented a scalable system of the network and ran some really cool large-scale attacks. I was proud of it because I built the whole thing myself and was pleased by the engineering and architecture of the final product.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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Remember to take other people’s advice as input, but your ultimate decisions should truly be your own.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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I’m not overly active on social media, but you can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

It’s not every day you meet a violinist-turned-engineer, and we’re honored to have had the opportunity to interview such a fascinating young woman!

Have the best weekend you guys!

xoxo

Dona & Beth

Students

Cassie Bub’s Boots Were Meant For Walking

We had the pleasure of meeting Cassie Bub when she was an intern and immediately we knew what we were going to make her do for her photos…I mean, let’s be real, how often are you going to meet a computer scientist + musician + GYMNAST!  We managed to catch this feisty multi-hyphenate in a net and insisted she tell us all the things. 

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a rising junior at Texas A&M University majoring in Computer Science with Minors in Math and Neuroscience. I also spent last summer as an Explorer Intern at Microsoft working on Bing answers, and will be returning this summer. I fell in love with the uniqueness that is computer science in high school, and that feeling has only increased throughout my years in college. It continues to astound me just how complex and powerful computers are.

In my free time I play flute in the Wind Symphony at A&M, and have gotten some amazing opportunities to travel with them. Music is one of the few things that can reach out and transcend cultural differences so easily. We played in Ireland last summer! It’s an awesome feeling playing a concert in another country and watching the crowd really get into what you’re playing, despite the fact that you are of different nationalities.

Gymnastics is another big component in my life, as I have been involved in the sport since I was three. I stopped doing gymnastics right before high school, thinking I was done forever, but it kept calling out to me. In college I got back into it, and am now on the Texas A&M gymnastics team where I have met some of the loveliest people. It’s unreal competing again, and while it’s been tough, it is so worth it to do the sport that I love again.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

I’m a little obsessed with lacy dresses and own way, way too many. This maroon dress is one of my favorites as I love how it is so simple and light. The earrings with this outfit compliment the simplicity of the dress as they are quite ornate. I found these in a tiny shop in Ireland last summer and couldn’t resist the lure of the gorgeous gold design with the tiny shining jewels.

Who doesn’t like leggings?! They are incredibly comfy and can be dressed way up or way down. I paired the tight leggings with a flowing top which is a bright and fun shade of teal. The earrings with this outfit are my go-to “fancy” earrings as they really catch light due to their smooth silver appearance.

The favorite thing about my closet though are my black combat boots. If you can’t tell by their worn out appearance I wear them all the time. They are incredibly sturdy but stylish at the same time! I love them!

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

In high school I was notorious for my lace cami under a plain v-neck top paired with jeans and Vans. I didn’t feel comfortable branching out at all. I found something I was used to and stuck with it.

Since then I have worked to expand my closet and find clothes that I wasn’t just comfortable in, but clothes that I loved and made me feel confident! I still like more of a classic, simple look, but it is a far cry from my days of basically the exact same outfit.

It’s scary to put yourself out there, whether that’s a new outfit or as simple as saying hi to someone new, but I believe that shouldn’t hold you back. Stay true to what you want to wear!

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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One of the cool things about the field as it is evolving now, is that is incredibly low-cost to you to get involved. There is still a learning curve to get started, but there are so many resources online that are free and make it easy to learn. If you really like something in the STEM field utilize these resources that people have created for you! There is so much information out there, and it’s never to late to start!

I was intimidated by the people who said they had been coding for years and knew so many languages already, but I also know a lot of people who are just like me and didn’t really know they wanted to get into the STEM field until college.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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This past summer I worked on Bing answers and was able to incorporate my love for music into something really cool! I created a guitar tuner, and so far it seems like people are really liking it!

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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Twitter & Instagram :)

We so appreciated Cassie being willingness to do a whimsical photoshoot with us with some of her best gymnastics tricks. We also love her badass time-management skills! “Balancing” (haha) the A&M gymnastics team and the symphony WHILE nailing a CS degree? That’s skillz. 

Thank you Cassie for giving us a peek into your life.  

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Erin Winick Makes It Work

THERE IS ANOTHER ENGINEER/FASHION DESIGNER/WRITER in the world!  Beth had the pleasure of meeting Erin Winick during a talk she was invited to give in Florida as a guest of our former FibSeq star, Ming Yang.

Immediately, Beth realized she needed to profile this brilliantly creative maker on all of the things….

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a 4th year mechanical engineering student at the University of Florida and the founder of Sci Chic. At Sci Chic we used advanced technologies, like 3D printing and laser cutting, to make customizable science and engineering inspired jewelry and accessories. All of our products are also paired with science descriptions to help spread science literacy.

I love 3D printing, sewing and working with my hands (YES!!!!!). I even sew and create costumes in my free time (WHAT?!!!). I am a huge proponent of the maker revolution and love encouraging other to make as well. This is largely what inspired the creation of Sci Chic.

You can also find me hiking, reading, watching Project Runway (are you my soulmate, Erin?) or listening to Bruce Springsteen or musical cast albums. The Hamilton and In The Heights cast albums are currently on repeat on my phone

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I am definitely a budget shopper and snatch up deals where I can find them. My trench coat is a classic from Banana Republic, but I actually got it at Goodwill for $15. My black flower sweater is from Ann Taylor which I also got on sale. I love Ann Taylor and Loft because of how simple and elegant their pieces look. My skinny jeans and boots are from Target, where I am definitely a loyal shopper as well.

I actually designed and sewed my blue galaxy dress. The galaxy fabric is from Joann Fabrics and really inspired me when I saw it. I made the whole dress in one weekend (that’s some mad skills–geez) and originally wore it for the launch of Sci Chic. I love learning new sewing techniques and showing off the beauty of science in my clothes. The black heels paired with it are from Rack Room Shoes.

All of my jewelry is by Sci Chic. The DNA Necklace and Suspension Bridge Ring are 3D printed in bronze steel. It often surprises people that you can 3D print metal, but you can get some amazing results! The white Small Atom Necklace and Blue Moon Phase Earrings are both laser cut from acrylic on a CO2 laser. Sci Chic offers all of these pieces in a variety of options on our website so you can customize them to what you want.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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I used to not really pay much attention to my clothes and my fashion in high school, but as I started college I wanted to make a good impression on the people I meet and interact with and decided to step-up my fashion game a bit.

When I started watching Project Runway, I slowly felt more encouraged to branch out to new styles.I love doing more layering and finding really versatile pieces I can wear with a lot of outfits. My style has become a greater mix of fun with professional; I am not afraid to rock some bolder patterns and pieces like the DNA necklace or galaxy patterned shoes.

Additionally, sewing my own pieces has given me complete freedom to make exactly what I want to wear. This has really allowed me to express myself through my clothes like never before.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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I am a huge proponent of the maker movement (a 1000x YES!). I believe so much of what STEM consists of is creativity and problem solving. If you are considering on of the STEM fields, get as much experience having fun with it and getting involved as early as you can. Get hands on experience making things or solving problems.

If you enjoy this, STEM is definitely the field for you. STEM is so much more than just working on cars and building bridges; it can be the gateway into almost any industry.

Do not limit yourself or be afraid to pave your own path.

What is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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Taking the leap and actually starting Sci Chic is definitely the thing I am proudest of doing. It took a lot for me to actually take the huge step of forming this company – it’s honestly really scary putting yourself and your idea out there. You face a lot of judgement in addition to adulation and your success or failure is very public.

However, I am so happy to have done it. The past 6 months that Sci Chic has been operating have given me some incredible experiences that I couldn’t have gotten any other way. I am so excited to see where it goes from here as we expand into new designs, more precious metal and into the retail market.

Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?

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It always bothers me when people expect engineers and scientists to be antisocial. To be honest, most of the best scientists and engineers are fantastic communicators. Being able to express yourself, your ideas and your creations to others is an extremely valuable skill and allows you to do well in the STEM fields. Personally I love writing, meeting new people and connecting with different groups of people.

I hope more people embrace this side of them – I think this will create a better public understanding of what engineers really do.

How do you see fashion and the STEM fields combining in the future?

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With wearable technology on the forefront of everyone’s minds I think science and engineering and going to become and increasing part of the fashion industry.

Obviously I am a huge fan of 3D printing. As 3D printing gets faster and cheaper I think more companies are going to take advantage of it. I love using it because it allows me to make the same piece of jewelry in both plastic and 14k gold. This type of customization is not something easily available out there to jewelry makers right now without 3D printing. I am also really excited by Electroloom, a company working on 3D printing fabrics.

I think in the next 10 years the people in the fashion industry that fully embrace technology are going to be the ones that win out.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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Do not be afraid to take an untraditional path. I never thought in a million years I would be able to combine my loves of fashion, 3D printing, making, writing, communication and engineering into one project, but somehow it worked out. There is something perfect out there for you. Do not stop until you find it.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

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I’m most active on Sci Chic’s social media pages which you can find here:

Facebook/ Instagram / Twitter / Tumblr / Pinterest / Youtube

Snapchat: Scichic

You can also follow my personal social media: Twitter / Instagram

You tell ’em what’s up Erin! We, too, did not think there was a way to connect our loves for fashion, writing, communication and engineering together and yet…here we are, making friends everywhere we go and celebrating these amazing lives people are leading.   Go buy yourself some SciChic!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Flor Albornoz

Dona and Beth are at //Build this week teaching creatives about holograms with the Holographic Academy. While downing copious amounts of coffee, they were reminded of fellow coffee addict Flor Albornoz who they met this summer. They loved Flor’s dedication to tech as well as dressing for her name. What? Read on!

Tell us a little about you.

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I moved to the US about 5 years ago from Lima, Peru (born and raised there) and I’m studying Electrical Engineering at Purdue University.

I am involved on campus in multiple ways – such as being the President of the IEEE Student Branch, Microsoft Ambassador and a tutor for the Minority Engineering Program. It’s important for me to be able to guide future engineering students, and help kindle their passion about STEM, and I am able to do that by being involved in these organizations.

Outside of school work and large amounts of caffeine doses, I rock climb and work out as a form of stress reliever. Lately, I have also been very into origami; I have mastered the “valley fold” just enough to be able to make an origami rocket and 3D animals.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I’m wearing a butterfly/flower dress that I paired with black (golden heel) shoes. I purchased the dress recently and I am in love with how classy and fun it looks!  The shoes are from H&M, and they’re my favorite pair of heels by far; I love the detail in the heel and how it can match with any type of outfit – I’ve worn them to both formal and causal occasions. A pair of black heels truly is a woman’s best friend!

In Spanish, my name means flower so I always try my best to pair my clothes with bright flowery themes. There is no season that will stop me from wearing bright flower colors in a daily basis. It’s my way to try to balance out the weather and make each day a little happier.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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My style has DEFINITELY evolved the most in college. I used to wear long baggy shirts, sneakers and jeans –I was trying too hard to fit in as an engineering student. In a way, I had lost my personality and I wasn’t being true to myself. My outfits made me feel uncomfortable and it was when I joined a sorority full of other women engineers that I decided to embrace my feminine side. I began to experience with patterns and colored jeans. Soon enough, colored jeans became part of my signature style! Most of my colored pants range from pink to bright yellow.

After finding my clothing style, I started experimenting with makeup – which I was extremely bad at to start with. I usually go for a natural makeup; mascara, filled eyebrows and lip gloss are my to go for any occasion.

Recently, I have been experimenting wearing skirts with ankle booties. At first, I was extremely self conscious about it -what will the world think about my feminine features? OH, the horror!- but then I started owning my style. I realized that I don’t need to ask people permission for the way I dress (of course, as long as it is professional) but more than anything, the way I dress as a woman doesn’t affect my performance on a day to day life.

When I chatted with Dona about this topic, she made a good point that if I fake trying to fit in by being something I am not, then I am not bringing 100% of myself to the task I have been given whether that’s school or a job. Those words have made a lot of difference on how I see myself.

I love dressing up because it gives me a confidence boost. I live by the motto, “When you look good, you feel good and you do good.”

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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Do it! I chose STEM because I wanted to facilitate the day to day lives of people. My major gives me the opportunity to make this possible by allowing me to see all the fields (medicine, consumer products, power and much more) where engineers are valued. A lot of people might not see it this way but engineers have a much closer connection for the betterment of humanity. Engineers put together tools that allow people to remain connected and explode their full potential.

Second, you can do ANYTHING. Really, you can do/be anything you want, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s this stigma that women in STEM break easily or aren’t able to “handle the work”. Please, do not listen to those possible. The only person who knows how far you can go in your career is yourself: you are the ones who set the goals and makes the plan to get there.

You will be surprised with how far you can go in this field by proving people wrong. I’ve been in positions where I have been told that I am not good enough for my major and maybe I should study something else; I never gave up on my goals. There are times where you have to be the one patting yourself on the back for the amazing work you do – Be confident.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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As we keep changing into different phases in life, it’s easy to put our well-being at the bottom of our to-do list. It’s easy to forget who we are because we try to hard to fit in with the rest. Don’t be afraid to show the world and yourself who you are. Don’t forget that you possess qualities that no other can provide and you also see the world in a different perspective that no one else will. Be bold. Say what you want to say. Do it with passion. Dream wide awake. You are a unique person who has tons to offer so don’t let anyone dull your spark. When times get tough, remember that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

IMG_0574You can find Flor on facebook.

We had such a lovely time shooting Flor – the evening summer lighting was perfect, her dress was so colorful and her shoes oh my gosh! We can’t say enough of a resounding ‘yes!’ about her attitude towards engineering’s relationship with humanity. We love that Flor is definitely not impostering and instead, relishing being her lovely, talented self. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

xoxo,

Beth and Dona

Students

Global Lisa Talks About the Most Creative Industry of All

Our 4th Edinburgh profile is Lisa Xie. Definitely the bubbliest of the bunch, Lisa was entirely in charge of showing Beth around the city while she was there last November – including gems like a Frankenstein-themed restaurant! We were fascinated by Lisa’s global background that spans Germany, Taiwan, Canada and the U.K and to hear about what brought her into computer science in the first place–creativity! 

Tell us a little about you.

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Heya, I’m Lisa. I’m studying Computer Science with a minor in Management Science at the University of Edinburgh in my second year. I grew up in Germany, but attended High School in Canada and Taiwan. I dropped out of my first degree of International Studies in the Netherlands after two months, as I couldn’t find any enjoyment at all in the courses I took and then found my calling when starting my degree in Computer Science.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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The first outfit is a combination of different red and pink tones. The pink hoodie is from Only, a white loose mandarin-style shirt from Forever 21 underneath and a color-blocked pink and purple scarf from my mother’s shop. The skirt is a floral print from H&M. My shoes are oxford style heels from a thrift shop.

For my second outfit I got the turtleneck knit dress from Zara. For one of the pictures I stole Harry’s overcoat.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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You don’t have to be a prodigy in Math to be able to make it in a STEM degree. You will be fine even if you haven’t started coding when you’re 12. You will be fine even if you haven’t taken a radio apart out and managed to put it back together when you’re just a child.

If you’re interested in science and want to learn about the world around you STEM is for you. It’s a very creative field – Computer Science especially – even though it’s really not known for this.

(Can we just make this paragraph into a poster and put it up in every HS in the world? KThx)

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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I am teaching an evening course for girls who are students at my university but don’t study Computer Science. It’s the most rewarding time of my week when I get to see how excited the girls get about simple things like getting a website to display their names.

We’re on the second session of the course now and we had a lot of girls continue on from the first one we taught about WebDev to Python. A lot of them even brought friends to the new session which was really humbling to me.

Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?

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After being in a Humanities degree (for a short time I admit) and then changing to Computer Science I found that one has much more creative freedom in CS. Knowing how to program is really enabling in our digital world. It allows you to reach people and promote causes you’re passionate about.

Quite a few people I’ve met in my degree are proper nerds and love technology – however they’re always happy to explain and they’ve never made me feel stupid because I didn’t know as much as them about a topic. However, most have hobbies that lie outside technology so you don’t have to worry about not being able to find someone who shares your interest. Not all of us are complete technology geeks.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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I thought dropping out of a degree might be one of the worst decisions in my life. However, it turned out be the best thing that could happen to me. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing now you probably won’t 10 years down the line.

I choose International Studies because I wasn’t sure what to do and it was a popular choice among my peers so I assumed it would be safest to go with the flow. Pretty early into my studies, I realized there were few people I could help if I stayed on this degree even in the long run. Technology however is becoming more and more important every day – there are great charity projects out there which use technology to try to raise people out of poverty by giving them access to the internet and tech skills.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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You will find my Facebook profile here – feel free to shoot me a message! My Snapchat handle is ‘rawkward’ I try to add interesting stories on there!

Taiwan, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands and now Edinburgh – what a crazy traveller! We think dropping out of a degree takes a lot of courage, and it’s awesome to see where it’s taken Lisa (in life, not just geographically :P). We can’t thank Lisa enough for taking the time to talk to us about creativity in STEM. That is the kind of diversity we need to ensure that the next generation of products we are building are truly inclusive and global, just like the lovely people we feature here on Fibonacci Sequins. 

Love,

Dona & Beth

 

Students

Aila Enos: Frankly, my dear, she *does* give a damn!

In honor of SXSW going on this week down in Austin, we decided to showcase one of our favorite Longhorns. We had the pleasure of meeting Aila Enos last summer when she was an intern at Microsoft. We were immediately struck by her resemblance to Vivien Leigh  who played one of Dona’s all time favorite heroines and had to do a dreamy, nostalgic photoshoot to capture the relationship.  As we got to know this lovely young woman, we realized that she is not to be messed with! Read on to find out why….

Tell us a little about you.

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I’m a graduating senior at the University of Texas at Austin. This past summer I was at Microsoft as a Software Development Intern on the Universal Store team. Before that, I was a Test Engineering Intern at Spiceworks, a company in Austin. I will be returning in the fall full-time at Microsoft as a developer. At UT, I give tours to prospective computer science students as a CS Ambassador and teach a group of around 20 CS freshmen as a POD mentor. Through the POD mentor program I am able to teach them about resumes, interviews, the lab machines, and other information they would need to know but not get from classes. I also had the opportunity to TA for our introduction to programming class in the fall, which was a fun experience. Finally, I am the corporate officer for UT’s ACM chapter.

Some fun facts about me: I was born in Hawaii, I know how to make sushi, and I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do (see? told you, don’t mess with Texas).

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I always feel most confident when I’m dressed up, and I strongly believe you should wear whatever you feel the best in! My style is very classic, and I tend to end up cycling through a few favorite pieces. Today, I am wearing a tan and black Ann Taylor dress and Christian Siriano for Payless heels. As for accessories, I love my Dynasty Red Kate Spade bag. It always adds a pop of color to my outfits! 

Do you have any style icons or favorite brands?

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When I was growing up, I was enchanted by anything Chanel. I loved the flowy dresses and simple yet chic color schemes. The whole brand felt very classic and polished. In high school I liked Betsey Johnson a lot. The floral patterns and feminine details like bows and sequins were just my style. Today, I like Kate Spade for the same reasons I liked Chanel when I was younger. Her designs are polished, classic, and chic, but never boring. There is always a fun pop of color or a cute and whimsical message.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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Give it a shot. You never know it’s for you until you try it. Plus, there’s a fantastic support system for you if you decide to go this route.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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Before this past summer, I would say surviving my operating systems class (us too, Aila, us too!).  Now, I would say my intern project from this past summer; The goal was to improve the performance of a service, which included redesigning the service by changing it to a publish and subscribe model.

Every time I decided on a new model and started prototyping, there would be a change and I would have to talk to the other teams and adjust the plan. As a developer I was worried I was doing too much project management work and wouldn’t have much actual code to turn in (which made me worry that I wouldn’t get a return offer). In the end, everything turned out okay – I learned to appreciate my project and the skills I learned, and my team trusted me to make design decisions and to interact with other teams myself.

I realized the things I did — communicating with other teams, reading and writing technical specs, making important technical decisions based on efficiency, complexity of code, and performance — were all very important. I would argue now that soft skills are just important as the more technical skills.

Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?

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There is a lot of talk about how girls in STEM receive unwanted attention and have negative experiences in the field. While this does happen, it is definitely not the norm! I have only had one negative experience (a guy kept interrupting me), and he was most likely an outlier.

While it definitely depends on your environment and where you go to school or work, there are guys out there that support women in computer science and treat us like regular, competent, human beings! Don’t let a few bad apples bring you down or make you think that it is the norm.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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I’m not super active on social media (didn’t like Twitter, stopped using Instagram), but you can always send me an email at ailaenos@gmail.com!

Whoa. Aila is one busy lady between teaching programming classes, mentoring students and being a full-time student! We share her love of fashion (Chanel and Christian Siriano FTW forever!) and we’re insanely excited to have her back at Microsoft this fall to watch how she absolutely dominates her new job the way she’s dominated university. 

Till next time

Love,

Dona & Beth