inspiration

Women Who Reign: Anna Dai

Beauty is not a woman’s size, shape or color. Beauty is a woman’s compassion to serve, courage to lead, and character to inspire.”  – Erika Harold

Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. – Golda Meir
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a native Michigander, a recent graduate from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and now a software engineer at Google in Cambridge, MA.

In college I studied Computer Science and International Studies and worked on research in Natural Language Processing, specifically Identity Deception Detection. During that time I also developed a passion for using technology for positive, uplifting applications to help others, creating assistive technology for children with disabilities, and mentoring young girls as a volunteer instructor for Girls Who Code.
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Nowadays, I am doing data analytics on Google Photos and enjoying the amazing new opportunities that are presenting themselves to me as I start off my career!

Something unique about me is that I’ve won over $9,000 in scholarships (over a semester at the University of Michigan!) from competing in scholarship pageants. I was the Distinguished Young Woman of Michigan for 2013, and Miss Wayne County 2014 within the Miss America Organization. Though they get a bad rep, participating in these scholarship pageants helped me tremendously in finding my voice, provided an outlet for me to inspire other girls to consider a career in technology, and gave me a wonderful group of bad-ass, strong, and intelligent women who are some of my best friends and greatest supporters.

I’m also a dancer, an aerialist, foodie, and outdoor enthusiast!
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Favorite website / app:
Google Photos, Yelp, and Lyft are some of my go-to’s. I’m also partial to many of the Google apps, and Instagram is my favorite social media.
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Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My family are my biggest inspiration. My parents immigrated to the US from China to attend graduate school with almost no money or connections. They’ve built a life for all of us in the US and done everything in their power to give me and my sister a wonderful life. Watching their dedication has instilled in me the power of hard work. I owe much of my success to the fact that my parents told me from a young age that “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
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Song that makes you want to dance:
Every song! I love to dance!
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Technical and/or life challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
One of the toughest things I’ve had to overcome as a woman in tech is a crippling case of imposter syndrome. From taking exams, internship interviews, career fair recruiting, and even now as a new grad at Google, I repeatedly feel like an imposter, like I’m not a REAL coder. In the past I’ve let it affect my self esteem, but in talking more openly and honestly with my peers, and with close friends, I’ve learned that imposter syndrome is more common than I thought. I’ve learned to push those thoughts aside, and let them fuel me to prove them wrong, rather than drown in the negativity. It isn’t always easy though.
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Ideal Job:
In 10 years I hope to be working on something I am proud of and making a difference in the lives of people. I want to continue learning and growing as both an engineer as well as a person. Who knows what the future holds…
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What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Don’t be afraid to break every stereotype, and make multiple mistakes on your path through life. Live not to meet the expectations of others, but to be your best self.
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