Confessions of a technologist
Web developer didn't let humanities background stop her from taking up tech job
Her lack of a computer science background did not stop her from becoming a technologist.
In 2013, Miss Stephanie Siaw took a three-month coding boot camp.
Now, four years on, Miss Siaw, 27, is a full-stack web developer at ThoughtWorks Singapore.
It is a global technology company with 80 employees in Singapore. ThoughtWorks was named the Top Company for Women Technologists by Anita Borg Institute, a social enterprise that celebrates women in technology, last year
Being full-stack means Miss Siaw works on the front-end and back-end of developing a website, from the Java script to setting up the database.
She told The New Paper: "Although I studied humanities, my skills made me a good web developer. I like to create things and take up new skills. I'm also a perfectionist, which helps in coding, where every punctuation mark matters."
Miss Siaw starts her mornings with a "stand up" meeting, where staff members talk about what they are working on, and the problems they are facing.
We do a lot of problem solving, and there is no one right solution to each problem.Miss Stephanie Siaw
"We call it 'stand up' because we all stand during the meeting so that it won't be too long - 15 minutes at most. This meeting is helpful because other people can offer help if we run into issues," she said.
If she is not working on anything, she would pick something from the "story wall", an actual wall with outstanding tasks, to work on with a colleague.
"ThoughtWorks encourage 'pair programming', where we pair up and work on jobs," she said.
"It's a good way to upscale people, and it helped me a lot because I wasn't so proficient with Java at first and I could learn from my partner."
Miss Siaw added that technologists suffer from many stereotypes - that it was just solitary coding all day, and there was not much interaction with others.
But much communication is needed in programming.
She said: "Through communicating, the solutions we come up with are better.
"There is no one right solution to each problem. Being collaborative allows us to get different perspectives."
Though technology is a male-dominated industry, women make up 39 per cent of the ThoughtWorks workforce.
"ThoughtWorks conducts 'Women in Leadership Development' workshops to encourage us to take on more leadership positions. It also tackles imposter syndrome," said Miss Siaw.
Imposter syndrome is when high-achieving people have a fear of discovering that they are not qualified, when they actually are.
"I did feel that way, especially since I didn't have a computer science background. The workshops helped me realise that many other people face it as well," she said.
Miss Siaw is currently working on a natural language processing (NLP) project. NLP is the ability of a computer program to understand human speech as it is spoken.
She said: "I 'teach' the system to adapt and understand a company's 'language', such as their business phrases and the commonly used acronyms."
Miss Siaw also takes up fun side projects with her colleagues as well, as ThoughtWorks encourages innovation and creativity.
She helped create a door opening program, where staff members can simply click a button on their computer or mobile phone to open the office door.
"I'm constantly learning new things. It's fun to create new products that people would use to makes life easier and less repetitive," she said.