Introducing Our Engineers: Alysha Behn & Ellen Liu

Every day, our Engineering Team Challenges Themselves to do everything they can and more for our customers and our team.

Meet Alysha Behn, Software Engineer II, and Ellen Liu, Software Engineer I — two of the engineers behind our products! Learn more about how these two got into engineering and why they think more women should join them:

Check out Alysha and Ellen’s spotlight in Built in Austin!

How did you end up as a software engineer? Was it something you always wanted to do?

“I grew up thinking I’d get an English or journalism degree and be a writer. My mom is an engineer (she does Oracle EBS/BI/big data consulting), so I didn’t grow up lacking a role model in the industry, but my parents were really great about encouraging me to pursue whatever field I loved, so I didn’t even consider engineering until I took a computer science class my junior year of high school. I fell in love with it right away, so I decided pursue an engineering career instead.”

What do you love most about it?

“Besides the obvious — writing code — I really love participating in design discussions. I’m lucky to work in an engineering department that’s passionate about doing things the right way the first time and where there isn’t a lot of groupthink or personal investment in winning arguments. Those debates are always a great opportunity to learn.”

What are some side projects you’re working on?

“I don’t usually write code outside of work, so right now none of them are on Github! I’m working towards my goal of reading 75 books this year — I have 16 left — and our department has weekly tech talks (topics have ranged from an introduction to Postgres to a Bob Ross-style painting demo), so I’m working on a talk on hard AI. Once those goals are knocked out, I’m planning to write a knitting pattern generator that’s loosely inspired by Jeff Donaldson’s Stuxnet virus throw.”

What unique experience/qualities do you bring to your team?

“As a developer, I like to prioritize defensive coding, and I think an eye for detail and some embarrassing lessons in what can go wrong when you don’t think ahead have trained me to get pretty good at it. Also, given my background in literature (I did end up getting degrees in both computer science and English in college), it’s probably no surprise that I care a lot about readable code. It’s all about being nice to the future version of me that will have to fix a bug in six months.”

Why should more women get into software engineering?

“Diverse teams end up working smarter and making better products. Women’s use cases are ignored in technology design all the time, which is bad for consumers and bad for business. The more women we have working in the industry, the easier it becomes to make technology that has real widespread appeal. Additionally, now that there’s a large spotlight on gender disparities in tech, which is so necessary, I worry that the message women are getting is that a career in software engineering inevitably means signing up for a lot of extra stress, bullying, and harassment. That spotlight is provoking a lot of positive change right now, and there are many, many healthy engineering cultures out there. I’ve never been more optimistic about the sustainability of a career in engineering.”

How did you end up as a software engineer? Was it something you always wanted to do?

“I went into college as a pre-med biomedical engineering major. I started taking computer science classes for fun my sophomore year and eventually ended up double majoring. After interning at a healthcare company my junior year, I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in tech as a software engineer.”

How long have you been developing for?

“Main Street Hub is my first software development job, so about two months.”

What do you love most about it?

“I love coming to work everyday and tackling new challenges. What I love about Main Street Hub in particular is the people. I was nervous about starting my first development job, but everyone has been extremely supportive and helpful.”

What are some side projects you’re working on?

“My latest side project involved using the Spotify API to analyze my current listening habits and provide recommendations for new music.”

What unique experience/qualities do you bring to your team?

“I believe that my lack of professional industry experience is actually one of my best assets since I can provide a new/unique perspective on our current technology. I am constantly asking questions, mostly to learn, but also to initiate discussion on how our technology is currently implemented and what kinds of things we can work on to improve it.”

Why should more women get into software engineering?

“While organizations such as Girls Who Code have done a great job in exposing more girls to coding at younger ages, women are still significantly underrepresented in the workplace. Unfortunately, the way society typically portrays computer science and engineering discourages many women from entering the field. Encouraging more women into software engineering helps break stereotypes and provide role models to inspire future generations.”

Learn more about our Engineering Team and its leaders in this interview with StreetFight Mag!

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Introducing Our Engineers: Alysha Behn & Ellen Liu was originally published in Main Street Hub on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Main Street Hub


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