Women Who Reign: Andrea Baric

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying computer science, and am really interested in improving the experience of women in tech. I started an all women hackathon in Philadelphia last year called FemmeHacks and absolutely love organizing it with other team members. All of the preparation is completely worth it once participants start arriving. On a “job” note, my past summer was spent at Intel working on their Internet of Things group. And a little something fun about me… my parents had to send me to speech therapy as a kid since I was speaking in their native language and English at once.

What # would define your life journey?
Probably my phone number? I think about all of the content within the calls and texts that have gone to and from it starting from middle school. It’s pretty crazy.

Favorite website / app:
Would I be a millennial if I didn’t say Snapchat? Geotags are super rad and it’s always fun to see the creative designs on them. My favorite “intellectual” app/website is Quora. I really don’t know how they can predict my reading taste so well, and the questions that come up on there are so unique and insightful. Reading it on lazy weekend mornings with a bowl of cereal is a ritual.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
I have gathered inspiration from lots of different people and quotes, so here’s a few. One is: “If you can do something for someone and it will take less than 15 minutes, do it immediately.” Another I really like is not rejecting yourself: “If you feel as if you are not ‘qualified’ apply anyway and let someone else do the hard part in making that decision.”

Song that makes you want to dance:
Run by COIN. This song gets me pumped up!

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I always think back to the first major project I did in CS. We had to make a video game during my sophomore year of high school, and it seemed like the most difficult thing in the world then. It was the first time I had to work on a coding project with a team and also have full control over how I would execute the functionality we wanted to implement. Having that freedom really gave me the courage to go for it 100%.

Ideal Job:
For my future position, I think a lot about working on something where I can tangibly point to it on a screen of some sort and say that I built it. I’d probably learn the most at an established startup that has a really clear sense of mission/culture but freedom to explore how the company might grow and stay relevant. Airbnb is a really cool example – it’s evolved so much since my first encounter with it in 2013.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
The same stuff as above, and a few other things:

  1. Take classes that you think will never be relevant. I took a chocolate class in college and it’s now one of my favorite things to explore in terms of history, manufacturing, economic impact, and tastings (of course).
  2. Go to hackathons with friends. The truth is that I hadn’t fully participated in one before I started organizing my own, but now realize that it’s one of the best ways to learn.
  3. Do not be afraid to ask questions of a mentor there either – she or he is literally waiting to get off of the chair they have been sitting on for so long to help you.
  4. Understand that company culture is critical to your happiness as an employee. Interview your interviewer as much as they are interviewing you, and know the kind of environment you thrive in.

Imposter syndrome is very real, and we all deal with it. The best way to remedy it is to talk about it!

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