Welcome to our interview series, where we introduce you to developers of all levels from all walks of life. Prepare to be inspired!
Meet Mel Moore, a software engineering student at the University of Indianapolis. She shares with us the important role mentorship has played in her journey, and you will be wowed by her selfless goals!
Tell us about yourself. What’s your day-to-day like?
My name is Mel Moore, but everyone calls me Mel. I’m a junior software engineering major at the University of Indianapolis.
When I’m not in class, I’m usually working on a side project, practicing with the speech and debate team or listening to new music I happen to find on Spotify.
When did you first learn how to code?
I actually had no coding experience before college, so I didn’t start programming until my Intro to Computer Science class.
Why did you decide to study Software Engineering?
It’s kind of a funny story. I originally didn’t enter school as a SWEN major. I was actually an exercise science/pre-pt major my freshman year before I decided to switch my major. There was nothing wrong with the major, I just realized it wasn’t for me.
So, that summer I went through a quarter life crisis trying to figure out what I should do and I started remembering things I used to do as a kid. From taking apart my kids meal toys with a tiny screwdriver to creating a Webs website called Save the Butterflies to keep them from becoming extinct in elementary school, I realized I loved to build and create things with my hands.
That’s when the idea of becoming a software engineering major popped in my head.
There are lots of stories of women feeling isolated and unsupported in Computer Science departments. Do you feel supported in your department? What are the biggest challenges you face?
I feel pretty supported. There is a sense of community among the students in the department. If you are struggling with an algorithm or with a project, people are willing to help you out any way they can.
I say the biggest challenge for me is balancing my classes with my side projects and outside learning. It can get tricky to balance, but luckily I have professors who are willing to help me along my journey whether it be class related or otherwise.
What inspired you to start your blog Little Ms. Engineer?
There was a period of time during my first semester where I was wondering whether or not I was good enough to be in the major. I felt that everyone had so more experience than me coding wise that I was always trying to catch up, so I turned to the internet for help.
At that point there weren’t a lot of advice blogs out there for STEM majors in college or going into college – so I decided to make one. Little Ms. Engineer provides practical career advice to STEM majors who are going through college.
How are you honing your skills outside of class? What are you learning?
I mainly use online resources and courses to help me learn. The ones I use most frequently are Udemy and Coding Phase.
What is your favorite part about coding?
My favorite part about coding is coming up with an idea and having the ability to code it and turn that idea into a tangible project that others can use. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering a major in Computer Science or Software Engineering?
Find a mentor. My development skills and self-confidence began to improve drastically when I found my mentor, Cimone. We met online using a website called MentorNet and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Your mentor could be a professor, an elder student, or even someone you know in the field already. Not only can you directly talk to somebody in the industry who has been through what you are going through, but they can also open the door for opportunities that you might not have found otherwise.
Quick Fire Round
When I can’t solve a bug, I… step away for a while and watch some Youtube videos to relax. It’s a good way to destress and I usually find the bug once my break is over.
Dream company to work for…a startup or a smaller company.
If I had unlimited resources, I would develop… an app that searches through restaurant menus and returns food options that fit your dietary needs or restrictions. I’m a vegetarian, so I think that would be pretty cool.
In 5 years time, I want… to have saved enough money to buy my parents a new house.
My favourite quote is…“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm