Grace Lu

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How many years have you been in tech?

4

Tell me about your background. What were your early years like?

I started studying computer science during my freshman year in college; the first two years were a time of insecurity and fear. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough in comparison to my peers and I felt like I was really behind. I would cry, lose sleep, and bring myself down because I of the fact that I was so overwhelmed.

How were you exposed to tech?

Both my parents are software engineers and my mother suggested computer science for me, as she thought that it would be a field that I would enjoy.

What is your current role?

I am currently a senior in college, but I will be a software engineer for a startup after graduation.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I designed my brother’s website during winter break of my junior year, and I remember feeling so accomplished with the end product. It was my first full end-to-end website that I’ve ever created. A year later, I redesigned the entire thing. It was amazing to see how much I’ve learned within the span of one year and to see how much I’ve improved as a programmer during that time.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Tell us about a time that this applied to you.

The spring of my sophomore year was a rough time for me, and I constantly questioned my abilities. I was struggling in my classes and I was not understanding the material I was learning. Nonetheless, I stuck with it. I decided to teach computer science to high school students during the summer and that changed the way I approached programming afterwards. I no longer saw it as a scary thing, but as something really cool to be learned.

What are you learning right now?

I am currently learning how to build a compiler, but some of the other subjects I’m studying include political science, korean culture and gender, and electronic music production.

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 am in the radio station at my university, and I developed a site to help ease the process of scheduling radio shows. It was a side project that I had a lot of fun with and that will help a lot of future DJs after I graduate.

What was the last fear that you faced? How did you feel after you conquered it?

My first time negotiating was a scary time. I am still young, so negotiating for $5000 to $8000 more was extremely intimidating: would they really give me that much more just because I asked for it? But I knew how much I was worth and knew that I just had to push myself to do it. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

What advice do you wish someone had given to you? What advice would you give to others starting out?

Don’t put yourself down to the point where you give up. I thought that I had to start out knowing everything as it seemed like everyone around me did, but computer science was something new and exciting that I just needed to explore and have fun with.

What are your hobbies?

I love exploring music of all types: I push myself to listen to different genres, to listen to the greats, to listen to world music, and more. I try to go to music events in the city so that I can get an idea of the worlds that others escape to that may be different from mine.

What do you like about St. Louis? The midwest? Why do you live here?

I feel free in St. Louis. It is a city that feels more raw to me in comparison to my hometown. I love all of the events that happen here in the city and to see how cultured and interesting it all is.

Who inspires you?

My electronic music professor; he’s constantly pushing us to challenge our understanding of what we think we know.

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