Interview by Frances Advincula
This week’s Femgineer Spotlight is Sophia Han Chung, software engineer at Facebook. She has worked for tech giants Google and HP, as well as built uber cool games for EA. I’ve admired her from a distance for sometime now, after reading her article “Fighting Stereotypes One Day At A Time.”
You’ve worked at big companies such as Google and now, Facebook. What are some strategies to get your voice heard as a new hire, when you are surrounded by the world’s smartest computer scientists?
Be confident. Speak up in meetings. Make your opinions heard. There have been too many times early on in my career when I’ve been a part of discussions and have been too scared to state my opinion. When you’re the new/young female engineer in the room, its easy to get intimidated by a room full of overly-confident men. It took years before I realized that my opinions were just as important and my ideas carried merit. The earlier you realize your own value and take control of your confidence, the more successful you’ll be in your job.
What’s a typical day like at Facebook?
Joining Facebook has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Not only do I get to work on a product that I use and love, I get to work along side some of the most brilliant and creative people in the industry. It’s a young, social culture, and everyday I feel like I’m coming in to be with friends.
A typical day is filled with a lot of coding, brainstorming about how to make our product better, eating amazing free food from our many cafeterias, and socializing with coworkers. Many nights after work, people get together for games nights or happy hours. Every few months we also have all-night hackathons — a chance to build a prototype for any idea you have to improve Facebook. It ends up being a giant party and some brilliant ideas have been built in hackathons (ex: Timeline, Facebook videos). Each day is different, but at the end of the day I get to see my work impact the lives of over 1 billion people, which is beyond rewarding.
If you could tell your 21-year old self anything, what would you tell her?
I would tell myself to take more risks and be more entrepreneurial. I didn’t even consider the startup path when I graduated college because it wasn’t a safe and stable career like what the big corporate jobs offered. Being young is the perfect time to try new ventures and take big risks. There’s such a low cost for failure and experiences are worth so much more. We’re still just at the beginning of what technology can do for us, and there’s so much opportunity to change the world. I would tell myself to believe that I can make an impact.