“Ask an Alum” Informatics student to Software Engineer

Linda (Fan) Yang graduated from University of Washington- Seattle in 2017, with a degree in Informatics and a minor in Math. While at UW, Linda was involved in hall council, FIUTS, became a FIG leader, and was the Director of Finance for Women in Informatics along with the President of the Technology and Business Association.  Linda is currently a Software Engineer for Nordstrom. Feel free to connect with Linda about her journey, career, or education at lindayang0416@gmail.com.


We asked Linda some questions about her career journey and what advice she would give to help launch her fellow huskies to success! Here is what Linda had to say:


In what ways did your UW education support or advance your career?

I majored in Informatics, this major gave me the information of how the real world works. In general, my UW education has been the bridge that connects me to the outside world. My degree gave me the essential knowledge and methodology of how to make information work for companies. It also provided me with all the resources to seek out internships and take my education from just something in the books, to real life application. Also, the strong UW alumni network is very helpful.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in your field?

I knew I wanted to do something with optimizing information/communication, and I liked making charts and visually appealing presentations, so I decided data visualization is something I would like to learn more about. I figured, data visualization is under data, so I chose informatics as my major. Then, when I was at UW, I determined that my end goal is to become a data scientist, but it’s hard for a student without any industry experience to become a data scientist. I began to learn that I am very good at coding and also enjoying coding. Becoming a Software engineer proved to be the best first professional step for me to gain skills and knowledge that are transferable, so I can be a data scientist in the future.

How is your current career the same or different than what you thought it would be when you began college?

When I was started college, I thought I’d become an accountant as my parents wished. But I found coding more challenging and interesting and, thankfully, my parents also supported me in that decision.

What advice do you have for current students looking at stepping into your career path?

I would encourage students to have some small hands-on projects like self-building a  website or app to practice their skills. I would also encourage students to try a few different internships in a variety of industries. Every industry or company needs people who can code, but it is also important to find the industry that is the best fit for you and your personality.

What are top skills your industry is looking for in new hires?

  1. Coding skills
  2.  Communication skills
  3. Problem solving skills
    For example: You are a new intern, I ask you to add a button on our website so that when a user clicks, it will pop up a sign up form. This form has to validate user’s input, and collect user’s input (coding skills). The Intern is supposed to know how to properly design this (problem solving skills), if this intern has any question, they should know how to ask people, and code it up. Finally, they should know how to present/demo their work (communication skills).

What aspects of the culture at your company or place of work do you appreciate?

I feel that there is transparency within the company and we have managers that are there to support us. I feel like at Nordstrom, It’s very easy to talk about your ideas with your boss, and discuss any point you feel like that are not right.

What activities do you enjoy outside of your career?

Running and hiking. Health is very important to me . Also some exercise can really boost my mood!


By Izzy Wroblewski
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