Yasmin Abdi is a Junior at the University of Maryland, one of the top fifty Computer Science programs in the US. She is majoring in Computer Science, with a specialization in Cyber Security Engineering, and minoring in Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Her parents are from Somalia, making her a first-generation Somali-American. Although she grew up in the US, she spent 2 years of her high school education in Somalia.
She had no prior experience with coding and Computer Science before starting at University of Maryland, but she has already left her mark on the discipline. Yasmin interned at Snap, Inc. this summer and was one of the first black woman with the title software engineer at the company. In addition, she won Snap’s first ever hackathon. She also won a Quip Diversity Scholarship, Google Codes Scholarship, and a scholarship from Facebook. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and is on her school’s Dean List.
Her impressive accomplishments also include starting the first all-female Computer Science club at her school, Ladies of Computer Science, and starting an orphanage in Somalia, the Al-Amal Orphanage. She volunteers with other community projects, like Technovation, tutors and mentors students, and enjoys playing basketball and working out. Her story is below, hopefully encouraging other students to study Computer Science.
Suzie: Yasmin, you’ve got quite an impressive background and already managed to grab an internship at one of the biggest tech names of the year, Snap, Inc. Can you tell us a little of what it was like as an intern at Snap Inc.?
Yasmin: I worked as a software engineer intern on the search team in Venice Beach, creating a new feature for search. I learned iOS development, Objective-C, Python, ANgularjs, GitHub, and Linux commands. I never felt like an intern while working [at Snap]; I was thrown in on a full-time employee project, working with senior engineers who were eager to help. They treated me as an equal and trusted in my capabilities. I had a great relationship with my mentor, who explained my project description in detail and gave excellent explanations on how everything worked. The team I worked on was great, making me very eager to return [after I finish school].
Suzie: What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started your internship?
Yasmin: I wish I had asked questions in the beginning of my internship. I think I had a little bit of imposter syndrome, and then I realized halfway through, this is what an intern is supposed to be doing—asking questions, learning more about software development. I spent so much time trying to learn by myself that I wasted time [ and that time could have been used towards developing the feature]. So it’s ok to ask questions. Even the senior engineers ask questions.
Suzie: What do you like best about computer science?
Yasmin: It’s challenging, but rewarding. It never comes easy, just like in life, but when you finish [a program or project], it’s so rewarding. You spend hours and hours figuring out how to produce something, hit run, and then it successfully works. It’s just a great feeling. Nothing good comes easy otherwise everyone would be doing it.
Suzie: What do you find to be the hardest part about computer science?
Yasmin: CS is so broad– there are so many things that could go wrong; so many problems. Bugs can be so hard to solve because they are specific to an area of CS (like security, user interface, etc.). It’s really hard to determine where the problem lies, and it takes strength to solve it.
To learn more about Yasmin, please come back tomorrow for part 2! Interested in more STEM All Stars? Click here to read Suzie’s interview of Maira Garcia!
This piece comes to us from one of our amazing community members and content volunteers, Suzie Olsen. Her bio is below, be sure to check out her awesome website and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!
Suzie Olsen is a Staff Systems Engineer in Phoenix, AZ. When she is not busy building and maintaining the search and rescue system for the US Coast Guard, she is performing science experiments and engineering design projects with K-12 students. To encourage all students in science, technology, engineering and math,she has written the book “Annie Aardvark, Mathematician.” You can learn more about Suzie here!