women in tech

Interview with Andrea A, Trinity University First-year CS student

What got you interested in CS?

I think there is just so much that you can do with computer science. Computer science just opens the door to a lot of different things. Like, everything nowadays needs computer science; we’re all on our computers.

Have you noticed any serious gender gap in your CS classes?

Oh actually, the class that I was in, like the whole front row in the computer science lab was made up of girls. There was actually a really good amount of girls in there.

So, you withdrew from the introductory computer science course this semester, what prompted you to do so?

Well, my grades weren’t that great, and I felt like if I started over next semester I could do better. Because I really want to do [computer science] but it wasn’t working at this point. And I just need to start over.

So you’re still interested in CS? First semester didn’t deter you?

No, I know I can do it. I just need to be in the right mindset. I just did not really come in that prepared and just the whole starting off college and everything—it just wasn’t the right time for me yet. All of the professors are really enthusiastic and really encouraging. And I really like that about here. Computer science is definitely something that you have to come into and be ready to read a lot and actually really follow along with the lessons. If you slack off a little bit you are going to get left behind. So I suggest before taking [CSCI-1320] maybe get the book beforehand and watch a couple of the videos for Scala. And keep up with the reading and do the homework, because computer science is hard but interesting.

Interview with Julia K, Trinity University sophomore CS student

What led you to CS? What prompted you to take the intro course last year?

In high school I did a lot of engineering/pre-med stuff, I always knew that I wanted to go into science. And then I did like the coolest thing ever and I went to engineering camp one summer. It was basically just overnight camp but they made us learn how to code and do MATLAB and C and C++, and I just really liked it. I actually liked it a lot more than I did the actual engineering stuff. So I decided I would rather code than be an engineer.

So you had experience with C and C++, but had you ever tried working with Java or Scala (which Trinity teaches intro classes in).

I got here and I barely knew what I was doing. I had some basic stuff from camp, but that was it. I kind of just stuck it out.

Have you ever had a moment where doubted majoring in CS?

Oh, all the time. I can think of a million reasons why anyone would quit CS. I mean, they make it hard for a reason. Kind of all of last year I was just wondering if this was like, the right thing for me, but, I don’t know. I just stayed in the classes and talked to my professors and my advisor and he thought I should at least stay one more semester and he was right, I actually really enjoy it. Once you finally start learning how to code and have a sense of what you’re doing it’s not even that bad anymore.

What is one moment that you are particularly proud of in you programming experience thus far?

I think it is hard to differentiate the moments because when you finish something and it works, and you know you did it all by yourself—you figured it out all by yourself—there’s nothing like that feeling. It is just like a straight high. And that’s how it is every time. So I cannot necessarily differentiate each time, but it is pretty freaking awesome.

So what is your goal in industry? Do you want to work in a technical position?

I don’t know, I mean coding is fun, but it’s not the entire industry. And I’d like to get out and see what that’s like, just try everything—whether it’s technical or managerial or something like that.

Have you ever had an experience with imposter syndrome? Have you ever felt like maybe you weren’t as qualified or as good as other around you?

Oh, everyday of my life. But, that is what makes it fun. For me it’s not necessarily a competition but it is a lot more fun for me to think that I am playing catch up and it makes me work a lot harder. It helps to motivate me.

What advice would you give a young girl who wants to go into a STEM field of study?

Definitely try it. Try all facets of it, see what you like see what you don’t and don’t just quit because you think it is hard are you don’t think you can do it. Because you definitely can, you just have to stick with it. But at the same time, don’t stick with it just to stick with it, stick with it because you like it. CS is badass. It is going to be one of the most important jobs in the next 20 years and everyone should take a class.