Hi, and welcome back to the #STEMBabes series!
During this series, I will be featuring a woman doing cool things in her own STEM-related field. This is in the hopes that they will be able to answer any questions you might have about navigating the world of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering as a female. There are so many girls succeeding and truly making a difference in their respective industries, and I hope getting to know some of them better will help/inspire/motivate girls out there who are getting ready to embark on a similar path.
For this installment, I had the opportunity to interview one of my best friends since high school, Amanda! Watching her journey and growing up with her has been such a pleasure, and I am so happy that she was willing to share bits of her story with you all.
Keep reading to learn more about Amanda!
Hi, how are ya? If you didn’t get that SpongeBob reference, read it again. 🙂 My name is Amanda-Lynn but I’ve only been called that by my parents in fifth grade when I didn’t do my chores. People generally call me Amandy, Mandy, or the more personal, Mands. And if I were to introduce myself in a sentence: I problem-solve, I innovate, I dress myself (stylishly if I might add), and I like to think I’m pretty humorous.
Q – Okay, let’s start with the basics. What’s your name, age, and major?
A – Amanda-Lynn Quintero, 20, Computer Science
Q – What are three fun facts about you that most people don’t know?
- I play video games (Xbox 360) and my favorite games of all time are Bioshock and Fallout
- The single most expensive article of clothing I’ve purchased for myself is probably around $35 and that was only because I absolutely fell in love with the item
- I’m working for URBN this summer as a data analyst
Q – Why did you choose Computer Science?
A – I had no idea what computer science was until I started college. I took Intro to Computer Science for kicks because my parents and I knew I had always had a generally good understanding of technology. But computer science is much more than simply studying technology. It mainly consists of problem-solving, a tool that can be applied to anything in the real world, which made me immediately interested in computer science.
Versatility and flexibility are things I value when considering my future, in addition to job availability, pay, and success rate. Computer Science checks all these boxes, and more. It’s the only subject where I actually found lectures interesting and makes me feel as though my mind and creativity were being utilized, which is why I chose it as my major over my initial plan of engineering despite having studied it for four years before college.
Q – If you weren’t studying CS, what would you be studying? Why?
A – Considering my eye for design and innovative mind, I’d probably major in either graphic design or fashion. My strong points are definitely my creativity and attention to detail which I feel like in either dealing with graphic design or fashion, both of those attributes would shine. Plus, I really love clothes.
Q – What do you think is the most difficult part about studying CS? The best part?
A – I’m reminded of the most difficult parts of computer science on a daily basis. Through the constant debugging and rethinking that go into the coding and algorithm-writing, time flies and it’s easy to start to feel hopeless. Eventually, though, the best part comes (hopefully) after not too much time, when I solve the problem. I’ve always felt that I think differently than most people and so being rewarded by solving a problem using my own thought process feels great. I’ve realized that my different way of thinking might, at first, slow me down in some ways. But it then makes my solutions much more unique and uncommon, which is a plus for most companies, businesses, and people with problems needing to be solved.
Q – What has your experience was a woman in STEM been like? Do you think you’re ever treated differently because of your gender?
A – I went back and forth on how to answer this question. Should I be brutally honest or sugarcoat the answer? I’ll say this, being a woman in STEM is like a game. If I dress too nice, people think I’m less intelligent. If I don’t dress nice enough, people think I’m less of a woman. If I laugh too much, people think I don’t take my work seriously. If I don’t laugh enough, people think I’m standoffish. These are just a few of the stigmas surrounding women in STEM, at least ones I’ve experienced and discussed with others.
I have to play this game every day and people constantly treat me differently based on whatever stereotype they have of me at the time. This is obviously not ideal, but I’ve accepted it because when I’m just being myself and some amount of times passes, I can visibly see their perception of me change.
…being a woman in STEM is like a game. If I dress too nice, people think I’m less intelligent. If I don’t dress nice enough, people think I’m less of a woman.
Q – A lot of people say college experiences really shape the “adult” version of yourself – what experience(s) do you think have really played a large part in who you are as a professional/person?
A – At the start of my first semester of junior year, most of my close friends at college went abroad, I lost contact with someone I really cared about, and I felt like I didn’t know where my career was going. The latter was the most stressful because it was my junior year and the next summer would generally define my future career path.
As previously mentioned, computer science is an extremely competitive field, especially as a woman. Sometimes it gets hard to be yourself, follow your dreams, and be on a successful path all at the same time! Luckily, one of my friends that was still around told me to focus on and mold myself into the someone I wanted to be. This really put things into perspective for me – I realized life is short and you really have only one life to live so you better make the most of it. I applied to an endless amount of jobs, went to job fairs, and kept networking. I started running multiple times a week. I started lighting candles and using exotic lotions. I made my life about me and only did things that I wanted to do. I focused on my career and my work and myself. Throughout this whole process I became so busy that when the email for my URBN interview day came in, I was caught completely by surprise. Fast forward to second semester and now I’m an independent, confident woman who’s going to be interning for URBN in the summer.
Q – Do you have any advice for other girls pursuing CS or a related field?
A – Of course I have advice! Firstly, take Intro to CS. No matter who you are. It’s useful, so cool, and really not all that hard. I’ve recommended it to non-STEM majors to get a science requirement and so far I’ve received nothing but good feedback. Secondly, if you’re intimidated by the field, the people pursuing the field, your lack of experience, or all three, don’t be. I’ve never attended a hack-a-thon so no it’s not a “must-have” requirement, even though everyone makes it seem that way. I met a guy who majored in political science and learned graphic design on his own and now owns his own company and is thriving so you should never feel like you’re inexperienced or starting too late!
Computer science is very independent in terms of learning the material, and because of this you can learn most of the relevant tools through online courses. My last piece of advice is never change who you are and never give up. Sometimes it may seem like you’re an outcast or that you’re never going to succeed but if you never give up, you will eventually thrive. Just because everybody is doing one thing, it doesn’t also mean that you have to be doing that same thing as well; give yourself credit where credit is due.
A huge thank-you to Amanda for being so candid and sharing her story as a #STEMBabe! If you have any questions for her, feel free to reach out here in the comments.
Stay tuned for the next #STEMBabes post!
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