Senior Chelsea Yip’s path to joining the growing ranks of women in technology was unexpected at the very least. Originally a biomedical engineering major, she entered Vanderbilt set on pursuing a career in medicine. Her physics classes seemed to have other plans. During the fall of sophomore year, Yip began conducting research in a neuroscience lab. There, she quickly realized she could be of greater use with computer programming skills, prompting her to enroll in CS 101. As physics got harder and computer science got better, Yip eventually switched her major to computer science while still remaining pre-med, though not for long.
“I had upperclassmen friends in the medical school application cycle and realized how long of a road it is just to become a physician,” Yip said. “As much as I want to dedicate my life to helping people, I also want to be able to live abroad, see the world, and not be restricted to practicing in the country I got my degree in.”
Yip’s wanderlust spirit led her to spend her summer traveling. After visiting extended family in Hong Kong, she headed over to Morocco for a volunteering internship through which she worked at a care center for children with disabilities. Yip’s choice to invest in herself rather than pursuing career-related internships ultimately paid off.
“When I came back from that summer, a lot of my friends had completed internships with big companies,” Yip said. “I knew that professionally I wasn’t at the same level that they were, which kind of made me feel a bit discouraged going into the recruiting cycle junior year, but I absolutely don’t regret that at all. I knew that junior year summer would be the one that really mattered for my internship so I wanted to do something a little off the beaten road that I knew would give me satisfaction.”
There really is no need to rush through life because there’s so much out there.
Entering the junior year recruiting cycle, Yip wasn’t sure whether she wanted to pursue a software engineering internship leaning more towards the technical or business side. Her solution was simply to apply for everything. Yip quickly slipped into a recruiting whirlwind, attending career fairs, constantly perusing DoreWays, and reaching out to alumni. Ultimately, she had to choose between a business analyst position at a tech company in Nashville and a software engineering internship with Capital One in New York City. Yip chose the latter.
“I attempted to walk into a software engineering internship without any experience,” Yip said. “I had no idea what I was doing. I basically got through life thus far by faking it, asking the right questions, and learning on my way, so this past summer was a process of trying again and learning from it.”
Yip ultimately had a positive experience at the internship, working with supportive mentors who were understanding of her lack of experience with web development. As the only intern among her teammates, she benefited from their availability to answer her questions. Yip left the internship confident in her decision to pursue a career in software engineering.
“I think software engineering was amazing and we need more women in tech anyways, so I came back senior year knowing that if I was going to apply for jobs and go through the recruiting process again that I was only going to do it for software engineering positions,” Yip said. “I also knew that because I had this return offer for this internship from this company that I really loved in the city I wanted to move to, I could be more selective in where I was applying.”
Although Yip knew she would be accepting the return offer, she didn’t want to make her final choice until she went home. While attending a conference near her hometown, Yip finally committed to becoming a software engineer at Capital One in New York City upon graduating.
“I was definitely very grateful to be going back to the company that I interned with and to be able to walk into a full time position knowing what to expect in terms of company culture,” Yip said.
Although she may have a job lined up after graduation, Yip’s adventurous spirit is far from dead. She pushed back her start date in order to give herself a few extra months of freedom to travel and explore.
“Vandy students are constantly looking for that next step,” Yip said “We don’t take enough time to appreciate what we’re doing. There really is no need to rush through life because there’s so much out there.”