inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Melissa Thai

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, It is about learning to dance in the rain.”

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am currently a senior at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology studying computer science and software engineering. I start my job at Airbnb this June, so I’m very excited to begin my software engineering career there!

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
Reddit. It’s the perfect time-waster.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
My older brother. He is also a software engineer, and he was the person who sat down with me and first taught me how to code. I still remember when I was in high school and he brought up Project Euler – a website that has a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems – on his computer and taught me how to use code to solve some of the problems. All through grade school and college, my brother was (and still is!) always there for me to give me life advice and tips. Even now, we occasionally send each other fun and challenging programming questions and discuss how we approach them.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gone into computer science had my brother not been there supporting me every step of the way. He has taught me so much in life and in programming, and I’m so thankful for him!

Song that makes you want to dance:
Anything Taylor Swift.

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I started my internship at The Omni Group – a company that develops software for the Mac OS X and iOS – in Summer 2015, I never touched a Mac or owned an iPhone before, let alone develop for Mac or iOS. I had a lot to learn before I could start my internship projects!

The first few weeks was like a crash course for me. I learned the nuances of using OS X, how to use XCode as my primary development environment, and how to code in Objective-C. Then I dived right into my first project, which was developing an internal bug tracking tool for everyone in the company. This project further deepened by Objective-C/iOS knowledge, as well as familiarized myself with the development workflow that engineers at Omni use on a daily basis.

For my next project, I dived right into Omni’s commercial software. For the last half of the summer, I worked on various bug fixes and new iOS 9 specific features in OmniGraffle – Omni’s award-winning diagramming and digital illustration application.

Over the course of 12 weeks, I progressed from a total Apple newbie to an enterprise iOS developer. I had several mentors from Omni that guided me along the way, and I’m so thankful for their help in my “hyperlearning” process!

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Learn to be comfortable in being uncomfortable. Ever wanted to go to your first hackathon but felt like you’re not good enough to contribute? Go to one anyways, I promise you won’t regret the experience. Is there someone you look up to but was always too shy to approach him/her? Just go up and start talking to them. Don’t be afraid to take up opportunities that will help you grow as a developer and a person!


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