November 2, 2020
Hello my name is...

Kiju Lee

Software Engineer at Cisco Systems by day ☀️
Amateur artist by night 🌙

Favorite Emoji:
🥳
Current Color:
Quinacridone coral
On the Playlist:
Dancing in the Rain - Rad Museum
Go-to Food:
🍣

Hey Kiju, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello I'm Kiju. I write code for a living and loving it! In my spare time you'll find me painting watercolor, cooking, reading, filming videos of my dogs, or decorating my home. I live with my amazing husband who is also a software engineer, and my two loving pups, Frank and Moon.

Can you tell us what you do as a Software Engineer at Cisco for those who are unfamiliar?

I am a software engineer at Cisco and I am working on a security application that I can't talk about yet 🤫. I work closely with product managers, UX designers, and backend and dev ops engineers. I am the only female engineer on my team. I have meetings throughout the week where we discuss any technical roadblocks and plan out development, but I still have time to code about 80% of the work day.

How did you decide to pursue your specific career?

I was originally planning to become a dentist and aced my DAT, and even got interviews to the top schools! But after working at a dental office for over a year, I realized I don't want to spend the rest of my life looking at teeth all day. I liked logical reasoning and math, so I decided to learn how to code, and it was the best decision of my life. My parents supported my decision 200% and I landed my first engineering role in the Bay Area.

What made you interested in your field?

I am a creator. I liked that this field allows me to use both the left and right sides of my brain. I could be figuring out the most efficient algorithm to a particular problem, then spend hours figuring out how to align a button on a page 😂. Not to mention it also has great perks, such as being able to work from anywhere in the world as long as you have your laptop.

Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?

Cool projects are definitely a conversation starter. I was on both sides, and when I was looking to hire a junior dev, what I really wanted to see was "Is this someone I want to work with". What makes you really stand out is the way you communicate your reasoning to others effectively. It was less about having the best solution to an algorithm than being clear in asking and answering questions.

3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field

Perseverance, confidence, great communication skills

Most difficult thing about your job?

1. Collaborating. There are so many different personalities on a team, all working at their own pace. Sometimes what needs to be done can be blocked by another team member, or what the product manager wants in a few days could actually take weeks to develop. Great communication and setting reasonable expectations are key.

2. Learning. Learning never ends in this field. There are so many new technologies that you always have to read and learn to keep up. You work alongside many different engineers, each with their own expertise, and you realize you still know so little.

What would you like to say to your younger self?

"Things just have a way of working out. Enjoy the process".
There's actually so much I would like to tell my younger self. There were so many moments I thought my life was over - like when I got my first C in college, or when I didn't want to pursue dentistry even though I have been preparing for it all 4 years of college! I wish I could have been more carefree and enjoyed the process of learning, developing as a human being. I still struggle with imposter syndrome in many different areas of my life - as a engineer, a amateur artist, a wife - but I tell myself "I'm not perfect right now, but it's okay I'm only going to get better" 🤣

Best advice you've received/heard?

Fake it til you make it

Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn about Software Engineering?

Devote yourself entirely to it and don't be passive. I've seen so many people start their coding project and never finish. The best way to learn is by doing!

Check out some more stories!

View all Beans