#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · Computer Science · inspiration · Technology · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Maya Frai

“Do it with passion or not at all!”


Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I was born in Miami, raised by an Israeli father and a Brazilian mother. While in high school, I started Killer Ivy Swimwear, a company that encouraged women to wear our swimwear like second skin. This experience opened my eyes to entrepreneurship and I learned an incredible amount of what it’s like to run a business. Before coming to Cornell, I knew I wanted to concentrate not only in economics and business, but also learn skills to design and build technologies. I chose Information Science as my major which allows me to blend my interests in computer science, human-computer interaction, economics, and design. On campus, I am one of the vice presidents of Women in Computing at Cornell, an organization that works to advocate for 900+ women who aspire to pursue a career in tech. I also serve as design director of Medium Design Collective that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration through design-thinking.

What # would define your life journey?
#wingit — When in doubt, wing it. To me, winging it means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.


Favorite website / app:
I’m a huge fan of Bloomberg Technology and Emily Chang’s daily briefings (goes best with my morning coffee) as well as Medium.com, Product Hunt, Dribbble, and of course Facebook, Instagram, and well you get the idea!


Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Jess Lee, the former CEO of Polyvore and now a Partner at Sequoia Capital, is someone I wholeheartedly look up to not only due to her success, but because of how she got to where she is. She is not your typical CEO–she actually landed her job at Polyvore after she cold-emailed Pasha Sadri, the previous CEO at the company. She sent him extensive feedback about the site and what the company could do better. After she sent it, she was brought onto the team as a product manager and was later asked to run the company as CEO. She got the job because she not only had the skills and experience, but also the passion and honesty to deliver her insight, no matter who was on the other end. She inspires me to stop fixating on what career to pursue, but find my way through trial and error and be honest with myself. Because of her, I look to companies that will listen to my feedback and encourage me to make an impact. Definitely check out this article about her: http://fortune.com/2015/08/02/jess-lee-polyvore-got-started/.


Song that makes you want to dance:
Basically any oldie by the Strokes!


Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
In high school, I created myoutlines.com, a website to help students study for their AP courses. Initially, I made this website to help my peers in my local high school when my friends started asking me to share my study guides with them. Over time, the website gained traction from students all over the U.S. and internationally. Currently, the site has over 300K users and subscribers and is #1 Google page-ranked for search keyword “ap outlines.” However, as I viewed the site’s analytics over time, I saw that more and more users were accessing the site through their mobile phones and less from their laptops. I knew that I needed to make a mobile app for the site, but didn’t know the first thing about iOS app development. When i got to Cornell, I enrolled in an app development course and started designing and developing the Myoutlines app. But not only was the course challenging, the room full of male developers didn’t help much. I found myself questioning whether I could keep up with those who were already in upper-level CS courses. However, even when I struggled with compiler errors of all kind or was scoffed at for asking “rookie” questions at office hours, I focused on what was truly important to me–making an app not only for myself, but also for my users.


What motivates you?
The fact that I have the power to choose my own career path motivates me to work towards a job that I am incredibly passionate about. Knowing that there’s a job out there that aligns with my interests in design, technology, and business motivates me to not only keep on strengthening my skills, but also fail many times over to learn more about myself and who I aspire to be.


Ideal Job:
I aspire to work in the technology industry not only because of the incredible products that technology companies build, but because working in the industry means collaborating with a cross-functional team, whether it be through product design, development, or product management. My ideal job is one where I can work on a product team that designs data-driven user experiences and develops innovative solutions to complex problems.

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What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who inspires you or interests you. The best way for us to learn how to succeed is to learn from other people. I have met an incredible amount of inspiring and incredibly talented people who I am happy to call my mentors. But also, don’t be afraid to embrace your independence and pursue something out of your comfort zone. Sometimes working alone allows you to develop something you never knew you had the capability of doing. In the end, the only person that truly has your back is yourself and only you have the power to make an impact.

Learn more about Maya! Follow her on Medium, Twitter, Insta: @mayafrai.
Check out http://www.myoutlines.com/

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