As a student, Yujeong Lee (’21) admits she flirted with the idea of tech even when her concentration was Art History. However, not seeing representation in the field outside of Earlham made her somewhat reluctant.
In a Python course with David Barbella, associate professor of computer science, the world of tech began to open up for her. David took the time to help her create an action plan that gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her interest. Yujeong also credits the Computer Science (CS) department with having good gender dynamics. As such, Yujeong says that Earlham never made her feel like a minority in the field of technology.
Currently, she is a Software Engineer at Tiktok. The past year she spent time working at a small tech start-up focusing on educational technology.
“[Software engineering] just seemed really cool.”
In her previous major, Yujeong saw inefficiencies and decided to learn how to automate the work. She ended up graduating with a computer science degree, and now she really wants to stay in tech. “There’s always something new, you have to keep up.”
Yujeong emphasized how important it is NOT to rely solely on your Earlham education to prepare you for a life in tech.
“People should Google as much as possible. Having a good resumé is important—you need to have one or two projects and one or two internships. I wish I had known the importance of internships. Start [pursuing internships] in your first year! Also, knowing how to do technical interviews is so important.”
She also joined CodePath, a pipeline and training program for early career software engineers, and reiterates that she couldn’t have done it without the help of David Barbella.
- Communication —being aware and being able to communicate clearly
- Research— knowing how to Google things
“Any time you don’t know anything you can just Google it.”
- The fundamentals of CS— data structures, algorithms, system design
- Technical interview skills— she recommends LeetCode and Cracking the Coding Interview
- Keeping an open mindset to learn
“I never imagined I could land jobs in big tech.”
Yujeong wants students to aim higher and apply to big tech organizations.
“I hope professors will encourage going out for those roles. We need to put our alums in these big spaces to make way for other Earlham students.”
- Don’t be afraid to connect with companies.
- Start researching, apply, and continue to apply for internships EARLY (September or October).
- Reach out to people on LinkedIn: message 10-20 people and at least one will respond.
- Many companies give out referrals.
- Virtual tech career fairs are often free and a gateway for interviews.
- Cover letters are not as important as your technical skills (in software engineering).
- Understand what you don’t understand and ask questions proactively.
- CodePath has a virtual career fair every year only open to CodePath students
- Link with Earlham Alums on EC Connect.
“I think it’s easy for international students to have this mindset of just getting a job, and don’t think they need visa sponsorship. But the reality is, a lot of tech companies who don’t sponsor won’t hire international students to begin with. So, I would say to start preparing early (from freshmen year) and invest time in companies that do sponsor visas.”
Students can search company names on H1Bdata.info to check sponsorship ability.
Her Next Steps
“I realized my dreams are too small.”
In th future, Yujeong wants to pursue two or three roles in software engineering to better understand things.
Connect with her on LinkedIn or EC Connect. She is willing to help anyone get in touch with the alums she knows.
Yujeong’s Earlham Experience
- Creative Capitalism Competition with the Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity
- Created a platform for contract workers
- Asia Tech Source Internship
- Interned in a sourcing company established by Earlham alum in China
- Shadowed engineers
- Secured an internship at the University of Chicago through cold emails with Epic Advantage funding
- Documented, scanned, and worked with the tablet collection (ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets)
- Automated the work she did at her internship for her senior capstone
- Art History Major and CS minor
- Applied to CodePath
- She was rejected but still observed the tech interview course
- Changed major to CS
- Trained and taught the CodePath iOS development course
- Went to Iceland with Charlie Peck
- Worked as a contract program manager at CodePath
- Got into Carnegie Mellon University, but did not attend
- Got a job at TikTok