Handshake Engineering Spotlight: Stephanie Liu

Meet Stephanie: 

Dancer. Arizonian. Volunteer. Handshaker.

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My Early Years & Getting Started in Software

I grew up in the dry heat of Tucson, Arizona, and didn’t leave the desert until I left for college! I still go back and visit my parents a few times every year. My father is a chemical engineer and my mother is an electrical engineer, but despite growing up in a family of engineers, my parents heavily emphasized the arts. They put me in a variety of arts classes that they never got a chance to experience when they were growing up, and I ended up falling in love with dance.

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When it came time to apply to college, I looked for one that would allow me to simultaneously pursue my interests in science and dance. I fell in love with Princeton’s campus and the people that I met there, and was lucky enough to be able to attend. Since then, I’ve spent time in many different cities, but still call Arizona home.

In seventh grade, I took a computer skills class, which covered typing and basic website development. Soon after the class started, due to Arizona public school system budget cuts, our class was without a teacher. I took it upon myself to learn how to update the website – occasionally taking the opportunity to add my own creativity – and found solving those types of problems to be incredibly fun and rewarding.

After that class, however, my experience with computers was put on pause, and I enrolled in college as a Physics major. It wasn’t until I took an introductory computer science course at Princeton my freshman year that I realized that I wanted to study computer science! Since then, I’ve constantly been amazed by the incredible impact software can have, and I am always eager to learn more.

My Current Focus

As a recently graduated software engineer, I’m trying to develop my skills as quickly as possible so that I can contribute in the most meaningful way possible. This includes technical skills, such as learning more about the languages and tools that we use, and also soft skills, such as giving and receiving material feedback.

Interesting Technical Challenges I Face at Handshake

Handshake is committed to helping students – regardless of their background – find meaningful opportunities. While this isn’t any one specific technical challenge, I’m most interested in understanding how our technical features contribute to our mission. Whenever we discuss potential features, in addition to thinking about the engineering aspect of the feature, we make sure to ask ourselves whether this feature is truly helping all students, and whether it is helping them in a positive way. It’s a really difficult question with no right answer. By working through these challenges with my peers, I’ve already gained a lot of perspective and user empathy.

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Looking Forward

This is my first job out of college, and there’s so much to learn! One of our core values is “Learn. Grow. Repeat.” I hope to embody this value by learning about our different processes (e.g. engineering, design, product, hiring), contributing in the best way I can, and expanding my horizons by connecting with people across the organization. My three goals for the coming few months are being a project lead for a feature, learning more about the career trajectories of the senior staff at Handshake, and reading more!

More Than a Software Engineer

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I have many passions outside of programming, along with all of the engineers at Handshake! I love to dance. There are quite a few Handshakers that share my love of dance (and we talk about all things dance in the Slack channel: #handshakeit). My co-workers have encouraged me to branch out beyond ballet to try salsa, bachata, ballroom, and more.

I’m also passionate about diversity in tech, and try to volunteer and work with organizations that aim to increase inclusion in STEM fields whenever I have the chance.

Questions about joining #TeamHandshake? Feel free to reach out! Shoot me an email at: stephanie@joinhandshake.com and be sure to check out our open engineering roles!

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