How many years have you been in tech?
Tell me about your background. What were your early years like?
I always seemed to gravitate to computers and games, even from a young age. My uncle once found a video of our big family Christmas when I was not quite 2 years old, and I was sitting on a stool playing my grandma’s Donkey Kong arcade cabinet. It never struck me as strange or different, and my friends and family never treated it as such. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by love and support!
How were you exposed to tech?
It has been present throughout my life, really. I remember when my parents came home with our first computer, I believe a Windows 9.1 machine. Maybe it was just because I was the youngest, but it just clicked with me.
What is your current role?
What is your proudest accomplishment?
It is hard to pin it on any one moment. I am incredibly proud to be where I am, to have the confidence of my co-workers, to have been a part of all the projects to which I have had the opportunity to contribute. It is such a complete and cumulative pride in my work that I have difficulty pulling out just one moment!
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Tell us about a time that this applied to you.
I have not encountered any kind of resistance since my college years, to be honest, and even then, it was mostly regarding my field of choice (the video game industry.) I very frequently was in a position where I had to defend my decision to attempt breaching a career path that was notoriously difficult to get into. Still, I persevered, and here I am!
What are you learning right now?
I am working on honing my skills in both C++ and UE4
Describe a time where you solved a problem in a creative way. For example, did something in your personal life trigger a solution to a problem at work?
I feel like much of my work is problem solving, which is incredibly satisfying but not always glamorous; I feel like it would almost be a misrepresentation to claim that there is a “Eureka!” moment where everything falls into place. In reality, it feels like a series of roadblocks, followed by a “Eureka!” and then immediately followed by another roadblock. Most recently, in attempting to optimize a game’s performance, I plugged away at it for hours, to frustratedly find that there was no increase in performance. The next day, after a good nights rest, I re-examined it to find that the reason was that the package I was attempting to pre-load was being initialized with a different package before the game would get to the point where it would load in the package I was attempting to pre-load. It was a bit more complicated than that, really, but in a nutshell that was the roadblock. I have found that very seldom is a solution exciting or brought on by anything more than taking a little time and a step back so you can look at a problem with fresh eyes. Just because it is not exciting does not make it any less rewarding, though!
What was the last fear that you faced? How did you feel after you conquered it?
I am a fast worker, and I have always been quick to take on any task, and lately that has meant that I have been given work that is important but dense and not very challenging. My fear at this point is that this will become a trend, and I will not get as many opportunities to challenge myself as a result of this. I have already discussed this, as well as my career path within the company, and have been assured that more engaging work is on the horizon; for my part, I have been trying to further my education. My hope is to have an MS in comp sci within the next 3 years!
What advice do you wish someone had given to you? What advice would you give to others starting out?
You can only get out of something what you put into it. If you want great rewards, be prepared to put in great effort!
What are your hobbies?
Video gaming, tabletop/board gaming, reading
What do you like about St. Louis? The midwest? Why do you live here?
Well, for one, the cost of living is fantastic! I was born in the greater St. Louis area, and most of my substantial family lives in the area as well. It is a beautiful city as well, full of people with big hearts and big dreams!
Who inspires you?
My mother, who took care of my brothers and I by herself. She stepped up and set an example of strength and perseverance, even in the hardest of times.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I feel like it is intimidating to a lot of women interested in the tech industry to hear all of these stories of women getting overlooked and even abused by professors, companies, bosses, and co-workers. I hope to shine a little light in that darkness: the industry is growing and people are learning, and while we may have to keep working at it, things are getting better! I am not going to pretend that my work experiences have all been perfect, but I have been fortunate to have never been made to feel like I was not welcome or capable as a result of my being a woman. I want every woman to feel that way, and I believe in a future where these horror stories are just a memory of the women who were strong enough to keep going when they were told to give up.