inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Shirley Mao

Happy Tuesday Reigners! Meet Shirley Mao from Waterloo, a Bay Area powerhouse having done co-ops at Google and Facebook. Read on to see how she’s overcome technical challenges, the groups that have helped to pave the way for other women, and the values she holds ideal in an organization!

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a CS sophomore at the University of Waterloo. I’m currently at the Velocity Residence at Waterloo which provides resources to students to hack on startups during their time here. I’ve spent the last eight months as an engineering intern in the Bay Area, first on the Sales Platform team at Google and then on Internationalization at Facebook. Before that, I was a cofounder of Women In Tech at Western (the school I previously attended), and a Square Code Camp alum!

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
Toss up between Messenger and Inbox

Song that makes you want to dance:
Coucheron – Deep End ft. Eastside & Mayer Hawthorne (Matoma Remix) [Official Audio]

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
During my internships, there were a number of internal frameworks that were used at both Google and Facebook that I found challenging to use. Ultimately, it was a combination of hunting down the right people to ask questions, searching Google and internal documentation, and spending a good amount of time of it that helped me grasp these concepts. Asking questions when I had no idea what was going on was especially valuable, as an intern.

Ideal Job:
Engineering at an organization with a strong positive social impact. I’d also like to try a more product focused role at some point.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I would say that I’ve learned just as much from supporting younger students/people just getting started in the tech industry than I have being supported by others. Also, being a part of communities that are open to healthy discourse and sharing knowledge is so incredibly important. Square Code Camp, Ladies Storm Hackathons, Women Who Tech, and the Women in CS group at Waterloo are just a few that I find great.

In general, don’t be afraid to get involved in these communities, to ask for coffee, join people on interesting projects, and start your own initiatives. I’ve made quite a few friends and valuable connections this way!

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