Humans of SWE: Varsha Venkat
If I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be this: dare to explore.
I’ve always been curious about the world around me, so it was only natural that I took to science and math quickly as a child. There was something particularly fascinating about technology and computers, and their applications in many different technical and non-technical fields (i.e. learning about nutrition through a computer game).
It took me a long time to venture further into computer science, largely because I felt that I wouldn’t be “good enough” to compete with all the kids who had been programming since the age of 5. I was nervous to be one of the 7 girls in a computer science class of 40. I gradually started learning more about computer science as a potential career path by participating in programs for girls in tech, like the Technovation Challenge and Dare 2B Digital conference.
My interest in computer science also grew through my participation in a club for young women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) at my high school. We kickstarted several programs to help other young women who were interested in STEM, including a regional research expo and networking event for middle- through high-schoolers. Through my participation in this organization, I learned a lot more about the tech industry and management.
I now plan to pursue a career in software engineering, and eventually transition into product management. I’m particularly interested in how we can leverage the massive amounts of data available to us, in order to better address the needs of society and provide personalized experiences for users.
During my time at Cal, I’ve realized that opportunities are everything. I’m lucky to have grown up in a place where disruptive technologies abound and innovation is highly valued. I’m lucky that my parents always encouraged my creativity. I’m lucky to be a part of communities like SWE, where I’m surrounded by individuals who inspire me and support me as I reach for my goals.
It’s easy to overlook some of the opportunities available to us, especially when we’re surrounded by so many amazing people and organizations as the ones at Cal. I think it’s extremely important to explore everything that we can — try out that club that piqued your interest, apply for your dream internship (even if it seems out of reach), and take the time to go to that engineering conference you heard about from your friends. I’m still trying to figure out my long-term career plans and learn as much about the tech industry as I can while I’m in college.
It’s never too late to explore your options and try something new!