Katie Khu

Why do you think WICS is helpful?

I wanted to join WICS because I was originally a Pharmaceutical Sciences major who decided to switch to Computer Science, and I had no idea how I would navigate this whole new world. WICS provided me with a plethora of opportunities to see different career paths and converse with students and companies. The organization essentially supported me in my transition to software engineering, and I still keep in touch with the friends that I’ve made from the events, some of whom I am currently working in the same state with. Most of all, I received my internship and job opportunities as a result of being in WICS.

What did you do for WICS? (events, new ideas, etc)

I first started out as a WICS general member and excitedly joined the committee, where I was placed into the Corporate Committee. Then I ran for Treasurer before I started leading WICS as co-president in 2016-2017. I was always excited to work on outreach projects, because I knew first-hand how overwhelming computer science can seem, especially in the beginning. Therefore, I focused heavily on outreach and co-wrote a proposal that won the $10,000 Trailblazer Award from NCWIT, which were used to create a mentorship program for Undeclared majors here at UCI.

Were there any memorable events that you felt were a huge success? What did you like about them?

One of my favorite events was a social game night where we just brought in a bunch of board games and food and just enjoyed the time. A few others even surprised the group with Super Smash Bros and that really added to the community spirit that were prevalent that night. It was definitely a great way to get to know people!

What do you do now? What are some achievements you’d like to share?

I am a Software Development Engineer II at Expedia Group, where I work on full-stack applications and know the difference between backend and frontend. 🙂 I’ve also developed some skills in ping pong and foosball!

Do you have any words of wisdom to share to females in STEM?

When I switched majors to Computer Science, I was in my third year and always felt like I was behind. Whenever I introduced myself as a junior, I had to include that I had just switched majors. Lots of imposter syndrome. 

If you’re ever in that position, you have to push through that initial uncomfortable start, because it will get so much better. I remember my struggles to even understand basic CS concepts in the beginning, and now it feels so great to pick things up quickly as I become familiarized with different technologies. It also helps to have some support, whether that means coming to a WICS meeting for the first time, speaking to your classmate that sits on the right, or coming to your professor/TA’s office hours. It is immensely important to ask questions and let people know when you need help or don’t understand something – we all started from somewhere.

For those that are headed to their first job, I will give you similar advice. Be okay with not knowing much, but immerse yourself and you’ll look back a year later and see how much you have grown. As an entry-level engineer, you are not expected to know everything, but do try to put some effort in to look up things that are foreign to you. When it takes a lot more time to understand something, it would be much better to speak to someone more senior and have them clarify the concept/tech. Good luck and have fun in the process!