“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.” – Diane von Furstenberg
Happy Friday Reigners – it’s raining on the west coast and there are blizzards coming on the east coast so everyone stay dry this wknd! We love meeting women who purposely step outside of their comfort zones, and Raisa is one. Read on to hear how she pushed herself to try lots of new things, how she brushed up on design and C#, and how she parlayed it into a dream job. She truly challenges assumptions and can relate to #ILookLikeAnEngineer.
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I was born and raised in San Francisco–a city that I love but have inhabited for way too long. Last year, I decided to move to London to pursue new experiences outside my California bubble. Since then, I’ve been surrounded by inspiration in the history and architecture of the city, the unique people I’ve met, and the cultures of nearby countries I’ve visited. I’m now a Creative Engineer at Google UK, building web experiences that help people understand, trust, and love our brand.
Fun fact: I’m currently training for the London Marathon 2016–my very first 26.2-miler!
What # would define your life journey?
When I first moved to London, I stumbled upon this motivational sign at Lululemon which read, “Do one thing a day that scares you.” I posted a photo of the phrase that caught my attention, jokingly referencing the past two days of challenges I encountered since my move:
DAY 1: Moved halfway across the world.
DAY 2: Bought a ridiculously overpriced yoga mat.
However, I saw this as a unique opportunity to challenge myself to actually do one thing each day that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Being in a new country with plenty of new experiences to check off my list, this was a fun way to hold myself accountable for making the most of my first few months as an expat, while also inspiring and delighting my friends back home. I eventually decided 101 was a good number to stop counting, but I haven’t stopped trying or learning new things everyday.
Favorite website / app:
Even though I’ve been annoyed with some major bugs lately, I love Spotify. The “Discover Weekly” playlist they generate for you is brilliant. When I’m too lazy to search for new music, or when I can’t figure out what I feel like listening to next, I can always count on Spotify’s algorithms to give me some new tracks that I’ll actually like.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Isis Wenger, the software engineer who coined the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer to break stereotypes of the predominantly male tech industry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “you don’t look like an engineer” upon telling people my profession. Depending on my mood, I’d either shrug it off or challenge them with a snappy, “What’s that supposed to mean?” And then I learned to not even bother with the latter, because at this point they’re either hitting on you or just plain obnoxious.
In Isis’ case, I admired her ability to turn her unexpected media attention into power to challenge assumptions and empower women (and men) to embrace their roles in STEM.
Song that makes you want to dance:
My team has a “launch playlist” that we break out every time we’re ready to push a new site live. It consists of power music to get us excited for launch, including Salt ‘n’ Peppa’s “Push It” and Europe’s “The Final Countdown.” My personal contribution to this list is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” because a site launch often feels chaotic and triumphant at the same damn time.
Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
For my senior project at University of California, Irvine, my team built a telepresence robot to be used in schools and children’s hospitals. In addition to programming motion detection and voice recognition in with a Microsoft Kinect, I accepted the task of designing the outer shell for the robot, so that it would look and feel like a real character. I had absolutely no experience in neither C# nor product design, but I had to quickly teach myself both. I spent late nights in the lab writing code and waving my arms around in front of the Kinect. Between classes and work, I paid many visits to a local plastic manufacturer to build out my technical drawings. I learned so much simply by searching for answers and diving straight into these new challenges.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Google, and have dreamed of someday working alongside the intelligent and creative talent at the company. Now that I’ve made my way in as a web developer learning from some of the brightest people in the industry, I couldn’t ask for more. I genuinely love the people I work with and the type of problems we solve. As a small team, we get the fun and excitement of an ambitious startup-like culture, with the benefits and stability of a successful corporation.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Impostor syndrome is so real. Don’t let those feelings of self-doubt take over and discourage you. Be patient but persistent; it takes time and hard work to gain skill and confidence, but you’ll get there with the right attitude. As an engineer, you never stop learning–and that’s what makes this field so exciting. So embrace the learning process and celebrate your accomplishments!