inspiration

Women Who Reign: Vinaya Polamreddi

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a graduate student at Stanford in Computer Science. I graduated from NC State university last year, and I have previously interned at Facebook, Pinterest, Microsoft and Fidelity, and will be at Google this coming summer. I grew up in India until I was nine, and then moved to Texas for a few years , then North Carolina for high school and college and just recently moved to the Bay Area.

I love technology and engineering, and love inspiring others especially women to join computer science. I have participated in much outreach for STEM and especially Computer Science especially for minorities, and love talking about why this is the one of the best careers ever. I strongly believe technology is the best way to create impact in this world, and want to use technology to help better people’s lives. I think as engineers and technologists, we have an incredible amount of opportunity and tools at our disposal to help solve many problems, and that it is our social responsibility to use our skills to make the world better.

When I’m not coding, studying artificial intelligence or talking about how awesome computer science is, I love to read, travel, try new things and hang out with friends.

Fun fact: I am learning how to fly planes 🙂

What # would define your life journey?
I am not sure but something like #livelovepassionately. I want to live a life full of experiences, meaningful relationships and being super passionate about whatever I do.

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Favorite website / app:
Tied between Kindle and Instagram

Kindle: I used to read an immense amount of books growing up, but since college, I find it hard to sit down and read. I recently downloaded the kindle app on my phone, and now I automatically go to it everytime I open my phone and have been able to finish so many books just by reading a few minutes every time I get the chance.

Instagram: I love pictures! I am an amateur (but very prolific) photographer, and enjoy posting and especially seeing other people’s pictures.

I follow a lot of nature photographers and all my idols in addition to my friends. Some of my favorite accounts are trevlee, a nature photographer based out of Yosemite who posts incredible off-the-path photos of Yosemite in all its glory, emolabs, posts awesome thinking about life kind of poems, Anita Borg Institute, because I love seeing women in technology in every part of my life, and humansofny are just a few of my favorites.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Sheryl Sandberg. There are so many reasons why I love Sheryl. I’ll start with the most obvious: she is a role model for career success. She has done some amazing things in her career, and is now at the helm of one of the most successful and powerful (and my favorite) companies. In addition to a great career, she is a strong advocate for women everywhere and constantly works to help women achieve their dreams and fights for gender equality within and outside of technology. Sheryl also actively brings light to many other social issues in the world and works at and outside of facebook to help bring about change. Lastly, one of the most important to me, she has a full life. In addition to her stellar career, she has a personal life I idolize. Her late husband, Dave Goldberg, and her were and still are an inspirational couple and set a great example of how to have a great family and relationship while doing amazing things in your career. When her husband died, she set another stunning example of how to stay strong and weather anything the world throws at you. She handled that terrible event better than many people handle daily issues, and in the process helped everyone else around her become a bit stronger, and to kick the shit out of option b.

She inspires me to not only reach great heights in career, but to also have an amazing personal life and give back to others and help the world as much as I can.
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Song that makes you want to dance:
Oh, there’s so many…right now, a bunch of bollywood songs and since my 22nd birthday is coming up: Taylor Swift’s 22.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would be where I use technology to help improve human rights and social problems. I want to help build services that solve issues such as lack of education access, lack of basic necessities, inequality and injustice, and empower people daily and help them live better lives. I want to work with people that are passionate about bringing technology and innovation for social good and help tackle some of the biggest problems we have right now: global refugee crisis, climate change, extreme poverty and inequality. I’m really excited about a bunch of things currently happening in the education-technology and health-technology space, but still a long way to go before we solve any of these issues.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Don’t let fear of failure stop you from taking opportunities, and definitely don’t reject amazing opportunities because you think you don’t have time or can’t do it. Keep believing in yourself and push yourself to do more and more. It can get hard when you are already so loaded with work from classes or a job to say I want to do more, but there is always a way to make time. Work almost never decreases long term, so we just have to grow and figure out a way to handle it better and then do more things which is admittedly much easier said than done. Make short term goals in different parts of your life: learn how to build an app in 3 months, run a 5k by end of the year, read a book this week, and hold yourself accountable to reaching them. Also, remember that everyone has low points, and you’re not the only one that finds something so hard. Reach out to friends, mentors and peers and you would be surprised at how many other people also go through moments of low self esteem and impostor syndrome or any other problem.

Finally, explore and try new things! You will never know what you really like and want to do otherwise.
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