Sayari Ghosh

Sayari Ghosh

Software Design Engineer in Test III
Bellevue, WA
Sayari Ghosh
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I am a Software Design Engineer in Test working at Concur in Bellevue, Washington. I did my MS in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Software is a ubiquitous thing in the human world nowadays and my work is to test this software. As so many people use this world wide, we have to make sure that there are no "bugs" found in there. However, manually testing a software is a time consuming, tedious and error prone process, so we try to automate the testing. My work is to figure out which tests can be automated and then write programs that would run through the software like a human would and tell us if something is wrong. Unlike most of the things we use at all times, a software is not a tangible thing. You can see a computer, but you can't really see a software doing it's own work in the back end. That's why it is so exciting and fun to conjure up something from empty space and make it do everything on your command. That is the fun part of being an engineer!

  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Sayari Ghosh

Hi Dana! I really appreciate your questions. (And as a matter of fact, I did study Computer Science in both BS and MS.) Let me address your concerns one by one -
1. wondering if you are smart enough - remember what the famous scientist Edison said about genius? "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration". I want to remind you of that. If you are thinking about a major in CS that means you are interested and if you work hard on top of that, there is no reason why you won't do well. For my own self, I can tell you I am no genius. Neither are the people in the software industry I am working with for the last 7 years are. They are smart and they work hard. 
2. Yes you will be a minority. I am still a minority in my work meetings where I am, in many cases the only woman in the room. The more senior you become, the more minority you would be in the technical fields. But don't let that stop you. Take that as a challenge. If we fear of being a minority and shirk away, we would always remain a minority, right? In order to have more women in the software industry, we need more women deciding to choose CS as a major. 
3. Facing discrimination - yes, you may face it. But don't assume it is just men who discriminate against women. Women can be very hateful too. Personally, I have never faced any discrimination at work and my managers and peers (men and women) have been very helpful. A few offending remarks are expected in life in general. You will have to be confident to ward off those people. 
4. On being successful - you are just about to start programming. So wait till you also have a few years of experience under your belt before comparing your success to other men who have been programming for years :) If you learn, practice and stay in touch with programming, I see no reason why you should not be successful. 
5. Difficulty in obtaining a CS degree - any degree is difficult to obtain. You will have to work hard, study hard, maybe even sacrifice hanging out with friends to submit assignments on time. But I don't see why CS would be any harder than the others. 

In general, here's my suggestion - CS is nothing like a science fiction movie where you see geniuses walking around creating technical miracles. It is a branch of engineering and is very, very interesting. Don't make it scare you. In your spare time, read about a computer language (say Java, I would suggest the Head First series books to start with) or try your hand at an app development (it isn't as hard as it sounds. There are tons of step by step guides online) and see how you slowly get interested. And here's my advice for your life in general - do what interest you. Don't worry about anyone else! Feel free to reach out to me with any questions/concerns/things that are frightening and we will work out a solution! Good luck :)

It will be very helpful if you can let us know what's your major, what kind of universities you are looking for and what job you want to get after graduation. 
From my own Computer Science background, I have seen what matters the most is if you are willing to learn and another big thing is the ability to work with other people. For these internships are important, they teach you a lot of practical things needed to land and keep a job. 
In my job I have seen people from all sorts of colleges and universities from all over the world, ranging from the dream ivy league schools to community colleges and personally I don't think it matters a lot. If you are smart, hard working and willing to learn you should be good.

I can't tell you about the mechanical engineering major part because I majored in Computer Science, but I can tell you about the algebra vs. geometry thing from my personal experience. I loved geometry in school, always scored full marks in it. I loved to figure out how to solve the problems based on the theorems. But algebra never made any sense to me, exactly like it doesn't to you. At that time, everyone told me that I need to work hard and practice algebra, but I never understood that kind of a virtual x and y stuff. Also, I invariably made silly mistakes and messed up the problems and scored poorly there. 
Later I read that there are some people who love geometry and are bad at algebra and vice versa. ( you-prefer-algebra-or-geometry/) 

For you, as you love robotics you are anyway far ahead of many future engineers. Don't let algebra dampen your interests. All through your life there will be some subjects that you don't like. Treat algebra as one of them and try your best to score the best according to your potential. Maybe ask a friend who is good at algebra what she does to solve the problems, or just practice a little more. Math practice is always good in the long run. 

You can definitely choose a medical major if you like it, but don't do that just because you hate algebra. Maybe some mechanical engineer can help you in knowing exactly how much value algebra has in mechanical engineering major.

As someone coming from India, I think I somewhat understand your concern. Here are some stuff I would suggest. First, you need to figure out if you really LOVE programming. By "really love" I don't mean just working on homework assignments, but are you that kind of a person who would create apps or code something just out of fun? If that is indeed the case, or you know for certain that you can really do well in coding, then getting a job in a software development field should not be any problem for you. And I can assure you that a person who loves coding is a great asset in a company, irrespective of what she majored in. 
Also, you will most likely have "on campus" interviews in your final year of college. At least when we were in India, students from all fields (mechanical, architecture, civil, etc etc) got picked up by companies like TCS, Infosys, etc. In that case you will get your most needed break in the software world and then take it up from there. These companies also train you initially for a few months. Don't worry about the big name companies at the start of your career. Your main goal now should be to learn and gain experience.
In the mean time, do focus on a specific language that you like (C# or Java, maybe) and strengthen your Data Structures foundation. Also, like Ms Manzo pointed out, you can always go for an MS (or MTech) in Computer Science and Engineering. Don't hesitate to ask me more questions :) Good luck!

Most recent comments
  • I practiced a LOT OF MATH in my school years and took an extra course of advanced math in high school. I realized later that I should have paid more importance to Calculus, much more than just knowing how to solve the problems. So currently, I am taking an online Calculus course from Coursera to brush up on my existing knowledge and make some of the basic facts clear. As I write and test software, the analytical knowledge and problem solving that math taught me is extremely valuable. Geometry, however, is my most favorite branch of math. I still find immense pleasure in solving Geometry problems!

    Posted on Why Take Math in High School

    2 years and 4 months ago, by Sayari Ghosh