inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Andreea Cirstea

“When you feel copied, remember that people can only go where you have already been, they have no idea where you are going next.” – Liz Lange*

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Fifteen years ago, I moved to the United States with my immediate family members in hope of a better future. Coming to the U.S., has been one of my most challenging obstacles in my life. We did not know the culture, language, or have any friends to help us navigate through the struggles of moving to a new country. Everything had to be built from the ground up. Therefore, I strove to work hard in primary school and learn English in order to give myself the ability to attend higher education. Now, I am currently studying computer science at Furman University, participate in Greek Life, and help recruit more females to our ACM-W chapter. During my free time, I enjoy to swim, discover new local restaurants, travel, and listen to music throwbacks (NSYNC anyone?).

Fun Fact: My guilty pleasure is to eat Nutella by the spoonful while watching a comedy film.

What # would define your life journey?
#DreamBig…I never imagined myself pursuing a technology career or even studying computer science in my undergraduate. However, this path has opened up so many different opportunities that now I am not quite sure which path to choose. Nevertheless, I always dream big and challenge myself, because I do not want to miss out on opportunities to learn.

Favorite website / app:
theSkimm, , which is a subscription to a daily email newsletter. Each weekday morning, I receive highlights from the day before with information about global stories. theSkimm does an excellent job of giving me the background story to catch up, the details of the most recent news, and then finally the full story should it interest me. I enjoy my subscription, because it is the perfect newsletter I can skim on my commute to work each morning.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
My brother has always inspired me ever since I was his little sister. He would always push me to work hard in school and taught me every helpful trick of the trade. We have battled every obstacle together and we always helped each other through the good and bad times. Without his guidance and support, I would not be the same woman I am today. The best piece of advice he always keeps telling me is to never give up, even when things seem like they cannot get any worse. If it is not okay, then it is not the end. Always keep pushing forward.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I am not really quite sure where to start naming the technical challenges that have come across my life, but perhaps I will mention my current technical challenge. This semester I have decided to intern at a small startup while studying abroad in London. I have never interned before at a startup nor have I ever worked abroad. At my current internship, the technologies they use are completely different and complex. Furthermore, everyone is responsible for their own task and has to respond to their success or trouble. As an intern, I have a lot more responsibility than at a large corporation and the learning curve is very steep. At first, I felt very overwhelmed and underqualified for this internship position. However, I reached out to my friends from Code Camp, which is a program hosted by Square to encourage women in technology, for some guidance and support. Through their help I have been able to take a step back, analyze the situation, and format a plan to adapt to the learning curve. Without their support, I would still be struggling and lack confidence at my internship, however I have been able to overcome this technical challenge and grow as an engineer. Therefore, always reach out to your support group whenever you have a challenge and also support others in their daily challenges.

Ideal Job:
My main motivation behind pursuing technology was to help minimize the socioeconomic gaps between social classes. I have experienced first-hand how much technology has given me a competitive advantage and allowed me to climb the ladder to success. When I first moved to the U.S., access to technology resources was very limited and the focus was instead placed on adapting to the culture. However, looking back now I know that if technology, and computer science in particular, had been a part of my life earlier then progress would have been much easier. Therefore, my ideal job is to be an engineer that creates educational software and executes initiatives that will bring technology resources to underprivileged children. I would even like to spread the initiatives to focus on the East Coast. Silicon Valley dominates the West Coast and provides different resources to teach programming. The East Coast does not have such a strong presence in technology, so spreading a computer science curriculum on the East Coast can ensure every child has the opportunity to explore technology regardless of geographic location.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Do not be afraid to ask for help, especially to your male peers. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, instead it is a sign of self-motivation and interest. Asking questions shows that you are seeking to understand the problem on a deeper level and will help you think about the problem in a different perspective that can lead to the solution. You will be surprised at how someone else looks at a problem. Therefore, ask away…

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