Software Engineer at Nordstrom

What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was younger I guess I didn’t really think about my career; it was more like I thought astronauts were cool. I think when I started taking classes like AP Physics and AP Calculus, I started being really interested in STEM. I also had a pretty close relationship with my teachers and through their support I started to really see myself in a STEM career.

How is Mechanical Engineering different from Software Engineering?

Mechanical Engineering is very different from software engineering, in mechanical engineering they used Excel and more outdated programs while in they use more updated programs. Both are still math based though and the analytical and problem solving mindset is still the same. In terms of the social atmosphere though, there is much more gender diversity in software engineering that mechanical. Finding a female mechanical engineer was incredibly rare; I think I only knew two when I was in the field. I don’t know why, but there are a lot more barriers to entering mechanical engineering and there’s not as many meet-ups and conferences that try to promote diversity when you are in mechanical.

How did you transfer from Mechanical engineering to Software Engineering?

I took this boot camp called Code Fellows and basically it’s an 8-week, full-time program where we learn how to code in html, css, Javascript, and how to use GitHub etc. There’s classroom and project-based learning and we also have homework sometimes. Right after Code Fellows I was hired at Nordstrom as a Software Engineer.

How has Nordstrom made an effort to be a more inclusive and diverse workplace?

Most of the diversity efforts at Nordstrom have been concentrated within this year actually. You know, 80% of our customer base is women while only 20% of the engineers are women and I think they started seeing that there's a problem there. They have Slack groups where they set up meeting times for minority groups to meet up and talk. Also, if there’s a higher position opening at Nordstrom there will be a Slack Chanel allowing employees to nominate women or minorities that would fit well in the position.

Have you ever been treated differently in your career because you were a woman?

don’t think I have really experienced bias as a woman in STEM. It’s more the representation thats the issue for me. In math and science classes in high school or college, I didn’t really have any girls that I could talk to for advice or support. Now in the workplace, I don't see many women, non-binary, transgender, minorities etc. in upper level positions in the tech community and I think it’s really important to have diverse leaders in STEM.

What advice would you give girls pursuing STEM?

Finding a mentor or someone you can just check up with from time to time is really helpful. Especially if they have the career or job that you want in the future, they can give you advice on how they got their and you get to learn from their experience. For me, my mentor, Cynthia Tee is the Senior Director of Engineering at Nordstrom, and we meet up every quarter or so and talk about the industry, what I am doing at work and my career goals. She’s just overall a really amazing woman and mentor and has helped me a lot in my career.