Hi everyone! I am very excited today to share with you an interview I conducted with Laura Medalia. I got to know her on Instagram, where she is under the name codergirl_. She is actually the first “women in tech” account I found on Instagram and I have been following her adventures ever since! I thought it would be interesting to do an interview so I could ask her all the questions I wanted! 😉
She had very great answers and great advice to give, so I’ll let you read our interview!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do!
I am a full-stack developer working at a healthcare startup in New York City called Zocdoc. I’ve been there for about 4 years. I also have a blog on tech and fashion and lifestyle advice for techies. And a tee-shirt company where I sell shirts for techies! And an Instagram account where I try to share what the life of a programmer working at a startup is like and hopefully inspire women to enter tech.
- What is your academic background?
I have a BA in English Literature with a creative writing emphasis. So a non-traditional computer science background (I am somewhat self-taught). I say somewhat because I did take some computer science courses in college in my senior year of college: I took the Intro to Computer Science courses, Data Structures, and Algorithms, Discrete Structures, a course on the “internet and world wide web” and a Calc course. I paired those courses with a lot of self-teaching.
- Do you have other side projects except for your online store and blog?
I am also working on an app for mental health on the side. I am kept pretty busy though with all my side projects though!
- Do you have any role models in tech?
Yes! I have some coworkers who are major role models for me- people who are really good problem solvers and efficient workers. I feel fortunate that I get to work with smart people whom I can learn from. When I first started my job, I learned how to be a better problem solver from my coworkers and also just what were good blogs to read, good questions to ask, good insights into the industry. Also the other women in tech on Instagram, who inspire me and motivate me :). I love the women in tech communities I see growing on that platform and on others (you have an awesome Facebook group!).
- What are your hobbies?
I love running. I love reading. This year I have read- The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night, Love in the Time of Cholera, Slaughter House 5, and I am just starting The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (although I’m struggling to get into it so I may swap for 100 years of Solitude and play into my Gabriel García Márquez fad). I also love hanging out with my friends, taking classes with them or exploring the city. Friends and family are extremely important to me.
- Are you a morning or late-nighter kind of person? 🙂
It honestly depends! I think, more importantly, I am a “must get 8 hours of sleep” kind of person. My energy comes at different times of the day, it’s all about tapping into it when it’s there. But if I do not get 8 hours of sleep I know it will never be present. I have conditioned myself to need a run and shower in the morning to get going- even on the weekends!
- What do you hope to achieve in the next 3-5 years?
Things that are important to me are: learning/becoming a better engineer and using my skills to help people. In the next couple of years, I would like to see both of those things happening in whatever way manifests itself. I also want to inspire girls to enter the industry- to show them what an incredible place this is to be. I hope to do that over the next 3-5 years.
- What do you think will be the next “big thing” in the tech industry?
Machine learning is maybe already it, but I think it’ll only get bigger.
- What is your favorite programming language + stack?
Honestly that depends on the problem you are trying to solve!
- What is your favorite programming book?
Data Structures & Problem Solving Using Java by Mark Allen Weiss. He does such a fantastic job explaining data structure, giving good examples and writing clearly. I read this book when I was first learning to code and it really helped me. I would recommend it for any beginners.
- What are your tips to be productive?
Read my blog post on productivity ha! I have a lot to say on this topic but some teasers are: reward yourself, break things into little tasks, ease into tasks.
- Who takes the picture of you at your office? 😉
- What did you do to have that many followers? Do you have any tips for others?
For me, it is not about the number of followers, but just being authentic and telling my story. And I think people can sense that difference. I feel connected to my followers and although my shots or stories are not the most glamorous thing, they are honest and showing what my startup world life is really like. I guess my main tip is to be authentic!
Your t-shirt store
- I love your store! How did it all start?
I love fashion. And I also love tech. One of the things I was surprised by when entering the industry was an attitude that those 2 worlds are an “odd combination”. That it is unusual to like fashion and technology. I wanted to challenge that through my tee shirt company and show that a person can love clothing (and even lipstick…thinking of the lipstick and code shirt) and also tech. The shirts are meant to force the two worlds to intersect, to show that we can still laugh at the same jokes (my code is compiling) and to give you a fun item to add to your wardrobe so you can look stylish while writing awesome code (for women tucked into high-waisted jeans with a pair of pumps, for men I recommend wearing it with dark jeans, a blazer, and sneakers- I have a blog post where I share some outfit ideas).
- I think you said you were doing new designs on the plane when you were coming back from vacation. Do you have a time when we can expect them?
I do have a new tee shirt design in the works! I am hoping to release it in the next month, stay tuned it’s a funny one :).