inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Linda Lam

“When you make a commitment, you build hope. When you keep it, you build trust.”

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am currently studying Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. I switched majors 3 times before landing in CS. It took me so long to figure out what I liked, but I’m so glad to be where I am. In high school, I was heavily involved with FIRST Robotics Competition and now I’m helping plan the Orange County Regional Competition in Southern California. I also had the awesome opportunity to teach for Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program in Los Angeles last summer. STEM has always been a huge part of my life, and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities I’ve had.

Besides coding, I also enjoy:
-writing/performing comedy sketches with my friends in the Soulstice League @UCI
-eating cookies
-hiking and being outdoors
-playing guitar (and pretending I’m in a band)

What # would define your life journey?

The nights I remember most are the nights I spent hunched over a desk, tired-eyed, trying to complete an assignment or study as I drown myself in coffee. I would be (very) tired the next morning, but also proud that I was able to persevere. I haven’t pulled an all-nighter since high school, but I’ve spent many of my college nights still doing pretty much the same. Whether it’s an assignment I’ve struggled with and worked on for a week straight or a personal project I’ve gotten way too invested in, I always end up trading in hours of sleep for a completed (or often times, close to completed) final product. Because it’s worth it. I love what I get to do, and I love that I would rather code than sleep. Sleepy has kind of become part of my personality.

Favorite website / app:
I love Spotify! My favorite function is the Discover Weekly playlist, which always seem to nail it when it comes to suggesting music I might enjoy. I also love Steller, an app that allows users to create stories using their photos and videos while incorporating design. Every night before bed, I spend about 30 minutes just going through stories and looking at the beautiful photos. (My favorite photos are the ones of the outdoors!)

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):

My parents have been my biggest inspirations to me. My dad is clever and has the best can-do attitude I’ve ever seen. He never doubts his abilities, and taught me to never doubt mine. My mom is hardworking and is the queen of jam-packing a million and one things into her daily schedule. I don’t know how she does it. The sacrifices my parents have made are instrumental to my success. I’m proud to have them as my biggest supporters and best friends.

Also, my students from Girls Who Code. I worked with some very bright, hardworking, and hilarious girls last summer. Watching them take advantage of resources and challenge ideas, including mine, really inspire me. They are all so vocal and passionate about their
ideas. I love and miss them and can’t wait to see where their journeys take them.

Song that makes you want to dance:
All Star by Smashmouth, plus all the songs in this playlist.

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I’m always facing technical challenges in school, my internship, as well as personal projects. The thought I have most often is “oh man, I don’t know how to do this.” It’s easy for me to start panicking and second-guess myself. (I’ve done that more than I’m proud to admit.) But I’m working on approaching this differently now. I stop, take a deep breath, and figure out exactly what it is that I don’t know. I’ll break that into smaller components and do some research. Simplification is so important for me to remain calm and collected. I’ve also learned that the answers are out there; we just need to ask the right questions.

Ideal Job:
My absolute dream is to work for Disney/Pixar, building software for animation. I’ve always loved telling stories. Coding has become a medium for storytelling and I want to be part of that. Not to mention, I think my other passions for photography and lighting would make this the perfect job for me. In general, I just want to work with people who are passionate, in an environment where I can be challenged and inspired to push boundaries.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Confidence is so important, and “faking it ‘til I made it” took me very far. From being confident about my answers on an assignment, to being confident as I walked into my internship for the first time and knowing I’d probably be the only woman in the room, I knew that I had to act like I belonged; because I do belong and I worked hard to be here. I think it’s important to also remind yourself that you love what you do. It doesn’t matter what field you are trying to conquer. There will be tough people and tough situations to deal with. None of those things matter if you love what you’re doing and want to be where you are.

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