Happy Friday Reigners! The reason that we love hearing from so many unique women is that we learn something new everyday 🙂 Meet Aila Enos, a student at UTAustin. She is already making her mark and giving back by being a mentor to other students. Read on to learn more about her background, who she looks up to, and the organization that inspires her! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a senior at the University of Texas, studying Computer Science. I’m a POD mentor (program where upperclassmen teach freshmen computer science majors), CS Ambassador, WiCS mentor, and the Corporate Liaison for the UT chapter of ACM. As a CS Ambassador, I get to meet high school students interested in computer science and give them a tour of the department, in addition to answering any and all questions they may have. I love talking about technology and why it’s so great, and helping those who chose to major in computer science. I know I had a lot of questions when I was a freshman, so I lead a group of 20 freshmen each fall as a POD mentor and teach them about computer science, internships, the career fair, resumes, and college life. After graduating in the spring, I will work at Microsoft as a developer.
Fun fact: I was born in Hawaii and am a black belt in taekwondo.
What # would define your life journey?
#blessed.. I am so grateful for all the mentors I’ve had and people who have helped me achieve my goals.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
There have been so many inspiring people in my life, but if I had to pick one, it would be my mom. She taught me to be independent and go after your goals. She has been through a lot… including moving to Hawaii without knowing anyone and surviving a capsized boat.
Song that makes you want to dance:
The most current song that makes me want to dance is Roses by The Chainsmokers.
Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
My greatest technical challenge wasn’t really that technical…in fact, that was the problem. At my last internship, as a software developer, my project was to improve the performance of a service, which included redesigning the service by changing it to a publish and subscribe model. However, every time I decided on a new model and started prototyping, there would be a change and I would have to talk to the other teams and adjust the plan. As a developer, I was worried I was doing more project management work, and wouldn’t have much actual code to turn in. I was worried I wouldn’t get a return offer, and as my second and last internship, I wouldn’t have enough experience before graduating.
In the end, I did get a return offer, and am starting full-time at the same company. I learned to appreciate my project and the skills I learned. My team trusted me to make design decisions and to interact with other teams myself. I realized the things I did — communicating with other teams, reading and writing technical specs, making important technical decisions based on efficiency, complexity of code, and performance — were all very important. I would argue soft skills are just important as the more technical skills, and that’s what I used the previous summer. I think as girls we tend to think they aren’t… but I would argue technical skills are easier to learn. Technology changes so often, and you are always going to be learning the latest language or framework.
My ideal job is to make a positive difference in the world. An alternative is to be doing work I love at a company that gives back.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I think the thing that isn’t stressed enough is to have a support system in place. I’ve met so many talented, tough, and smart girls that have no problem going after their dreams. Everyone has bad days though, no matter how good you are. It’s important, then, to surround yourself with people who support you and will cheer you up on these days. For me, that’s my parents, friends, and NCWIT (National Center for Women and Information Technology, an award given to girls in high school and college–there’s a Facebook group for the winners and it’s so awesome to see girls supporting other girls in tech). Regardless, having someone to lean on during hard times is invaluable.