Career Interview by Nairoby Peña-Peralta, Nicole Torres, Shanya Sam & Kimarah Bates

Interviewing Alexandra Williams & Bintu

Tell us about how and why you entered your career

I studied engineering, I was really good at math and science and I didn't like writing. I double majored in architecture and civil engineering, but right out of college, I was a manufacturing engineer, worked with assembly lines, however I wanted to do something more innovative and eventually switched to software engineering.

How did you transition from mechanical engineering to software engineering?

I applied to a bunch of entry level software engineering jobs, but I got rejected from them because I did not have enough technical training. This led me to attend the flatiron school in New York to learn more skills and gain more technical training. This really aided my transition from mechanical to software engineering.

What was the reason behind changing your initial concentration of civil engineering and architecture into manufacturing and eventually software?

Prior to college, I did not know the difference between Civil engineering and Architecture until I experienced it firsthand. Civil engineering is more of the guts of building, like how strong the soil is for the foundation and what type of metal should be used. Meanwhile, Architecture is more on the creative sign and brainstorming design, but after taking the courses, I realized I was not very interested in either. I ended up transitioning to a manufacturing engineer after college.

What skills have you found vital to your job?

Communication is key, if you can't share your ideas with your coworkers it gets difficult to implement them. By earning their trust and building a relationship with your coworkers, they are more likely to go out of their way to help you when needed, which is also very important.

What is your favorite part about your career (current or past)?

It is more innovative, and I love knowing that I had an impact on daily items and something I helped to create is used by millions of people.

Was there a career setback you faced which you later realized was an advantage?

Before I went to the flatiron school, I was getting rejected from companies left and right. Then, I got one offer to be a designer at an ad agency. I was excited because it was in New York and I thought that was the first step to be a software engineer. However, it fell through. I wanted to give up, but after going to the flatiron school, I realized 3 years later I wouldn’t have come as far if that ad agency job did not fall through.

What is some advice you would offer to someone who is interested in your work?

Get on the internet and learn on your own. There is so much information online with videos and tutorials that can get you started on the tech career you want, even in high school, so that when you're out of college, you know what you want to do in tech. Do as much as you can as early as possible

What should they major in?

Computer science if you want to become a software engineer, but it really depends on the side of tech you want to get into. There isn't really a right answer.

Interviewee: Bintu

Tell us about how and why you entered your career?

In college, I majored in sociology, but my first job out of college was helping future clients fill out bank forms to join. However, it did not have as much of a quantitative aspect as I would have liked. I later began working at an advertising tech company in the ad exchange market, which was basically connecting buyers and sellers. We target the ads on your devices based off of previous browser searches.

What skills have you found vital to your job?

A: Definitely communicating because you will need to communicate heavily with clients and get to a mutual understanding of what they want in the final product. Problem solving, too, because it is ideal to be able to think quickly and be resourceful. If you do not know how to do something, you need to know where to look to get it done.

What is your favorite part about your career (current or past)?

A: Being able to work in technology and help clients advertise and work with major brands around the world. I help both the clients reach their target consumer goals and help consumers see impactful and relevant ads. I like helping both advertisers and the users.

Was there a career setback you faced which you later realized was an advantage?

My first job was my setback because it was in Utah, a place I did not really know much about because I was from the East Coast. However, I realized the benefits of being there was being able to focus with no distractions, allowing me to learn coding language. I used weekends and free time which eventually paid off because in addition to impressing my old employer, it set me up for my current job.

What is some advice you would offer to someone who is interested in your work?

Talking to different people in the career that you are interested in. You have to network in an industry you are interested in because it helps to jumpstart your career. People are almost always willing to help and give referrals and feedback. Also, you should pick up skills that you know you'll need Just explore the industry.

What should they major in?

Major in anything as long as you can show that you have skills that can benefit your career as well as the capacity to learn new skills.

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