#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Vasudha Rengarajan

“One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.” — Sheila Murray Bethel
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a Bay Area native currently at Columbia University studying Computer Science. At Columbia, I’m on the Managing Team of Girls Who Code, an Operating Committee Leader for Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs (CORE), and a proud member of Latino dance troupe Sabor! A fun and random fact is that throughout high school, I learned classical voice and actually got the opportunity to sing opera at Carnegie Hall a couple times!

Growing up, I was fortunate to start coding pretty young. My trajectory from then on has been anything but a straight line. I’ve messed around with iOS game coding, done bioinformatics work at a research lab, learned computer music languages to program MIDI controllers and laptop orchestras (my funnest coding experience!), learned some computational journalism while working for my high school newspaper, fiddled my way through hardware hacking, and most recently had a blast interning at Salesforce in San Francisco.

I also love to perform, write, and travel. (My favorite location so far is Marrakech!)

What # would define your life journey?
I’m going to make this a toss-up between #makingmoves and #everydayimhustling

Favorite website / app:
Considering how often I’m using it, it’s really only fair for me to say Spotify.
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Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I’ve had the chance to meet and listen to some incredible people! Some of my favorites are AngelPad co-founder Carine Magescas speaking frankly about her life experiences, Steve Wozniak reminiscing about pranks he’s pulled, Pardot founder Adam Blitzer discussing startup realities, FitBit CTO Eric Friedman chatting about VCs’ blind spots when betting on companies, and Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer presenting on innovations of the future. My ultimate favorite would be Salesforce CFO Mark Hawkins for his positive and energetic outlook on career and life. I think the spark, the curiosity, and the love of learning that he has is pretty rare.

But to give the honest answer, the advice that sticks with me the most is from my family. I’m thankful for my father’s sense of perspective, mother’s positivity, and sister’s constant realness. They inspire me every day!

Song that makes you want to dance:
I’m hard pressed to find a song that doesn’t make me want to dance!

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
This is a great question! I’ve been extremely lucky, I’d say no life challenges to date. But I do want to speak a little on a small mental hurdle I’ve overcome.

It’s so natural to the human condition to be self-centered. We’re all concerned with our own lives—our own successes, our own failures, our own families, grades, health, careers—but often, things really have nothing to do with us.

One of my biggest challenges has been overcoming the mentality that every failure is because I screwed up, wasn’t good enough, or didn’t do my best. Sometimes things just don’t work out for a million reasons that have nothing to do with you. That’s a tough thing to internalize but a great mental model to have.
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Ideal Job:
I’m saving up for my first company, so I guess along that vein, in 10 years I’d love to be a founder of an impactful startup. Regardless of success or failure though, I hope in 10 years I’ve learned a lot, traveled the world, feel young as ever, and continue to find brilliant and goodhearted people to share experiences with!

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Well, I’m still young and have a ton of learning to do. But from my experiences, here are a few things I’ve found valuable.

First, get educated in the way that suits you. Tech moves fast, and there’s always a bit of pressure to keep up. Because there’s this constant demand to know more, learning quickly and effectively is becoming an important skill for us to have. Find the tools that work best for you, try not to get frustrated, and always be checking in with yourself.

Second, it’s absolutely possible to have no regrets. Move on from any missed opportunities, old failures, and awkward encounters. Storing them in your mind as regrets makes you hang on to negativity. Instead, let them go, and always be looking forward.

Third, grow to love the sound of your own voice! This is a silly bit of advice, but I think it holds. Owning your actions and your voice with pride goes a long way. I really believe that having confidence, strength, and the self-assurance to be ourselves helps us all reign in our own lives!

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