Victoria Eng, who recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in computer science and will work for Square in San Francisco, did not take a typical path to become a software engineer. “It always made me nervous, feeling I was a little nontraditional,” said Eng.
Eng arrived at Rice intending to be an electrical engineer and explored her interests in both hardware and software. She said, “Three weeks before the major declaration deadline, I realized I didn’t even like my ELEC classes. I was just going through the motions and thought I’d eventually start liking them.”
After her sudden switch to CS at the end of her sophomore year, Eng felt scared about the transition because she was unfamiliar with the field’s professional growth aspects and job market. Rather than second-guess her decision, she told herself, “I just need to figure out what all those things are and tackle the things I don’t know, if I want to succeed in this.”
While she was exploring CS careers and diving into the required classes, she also added many psychology courses to her workload. “I was really interested in user-centered design,” Eng said. “Learning about principles of design and the ways humans think will help me a lot in the future.”
She enjoyed the engagement of diverse courses without adding psychology as a major. “I’m glad I ventured out,” she said. “There’s always value in studying other things.” She hopes to utilize the knowledge she obtained in her psychology and design courses to create the best user experience for Square customers.
Eng also strove to be a leader in her community. “I went into leadership out of a really great appreciation of the sense of community in the residential college system,” Eng said. “I feel like serving is one way to give back, so that’s one reason why I served as President of Baker College and co-coordinated Baker O-Week.”
Juggling her presidency with academics and job interviews was difficult at first. “It became an expert level game of time management, learning how to get your work done, but also realizing that there are times to ask people for help and to delegate,” said Eng.
She also discovered an amazing sense of sisterhood in an all-female a capella group, The Low Keys. She participated in the group for four years for the enjoyment it provided. Although she also met close friends and refined her singing skills, “Let’s say the only utility I got out of a cappella was happiness. Being happy makes you do better in your work and schoolwork. Not everything has to be about getting your next job.”
Overall, Eng advises underclassmen to not fear diverging from the common path to a CS career. She is confident that everything she experienced at Rice has been valuable to her development, both academically and personally. “College is not just about ensuring your first job,” she said, “it’s also about growing as a person.”
-Molly Reilly, Computer Science Assistant Publicist