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NATHALIA RUS

Growth and full stack engineer, Luko

 

And - Influencer at @yeahgirlscode

You can do whatever you set your mind to - you can be and do everything at once.

What do you do?

When I was mentoring children at the Boeing Summer Coding School, I said I was doing magic: creating things out of nowhere, by typing some magic formulas on my code editor. Currently, I am the "technical Swiss Army Knife" of Luko, a French startup, where I delve into a very diverse range of tasks: full-stack development, web-scraping, user tracking, automation.

 

On the side, as a tech influencer at @yeahgirlscode, I encourage girls and women from non-traditional STEM backgrounds to learn how to code. I myself am self-taught: I studied Politics at the University of Edinburgh.

Why did you choose this field?

"All my life, I had identified myself as an artsy person, not someone 'techie' at all."

I actually discovered coding as I had raised basic funding for a software company I created while at University. I needed to find a software developer and I took the matter into my own hands, and started to learn how to code online. I instantly fell in love with it. So I focused on learning how to code rather than continuing the company.

 

I realised that more girls should give coding a try and not feel intimidated. Most importantly, art and tech people have way more in common than they think, and can learn so much from each other. Anyone can code: you only need to take the time and effort to achieve your goals, like everything else in life.

 

What I love about coding is how to enables you to create anything you have in mind. I like to paint in my spare time: using code, I experimented with my visual creations this time on a digital medium, and made my canvases interact with my musical compositions using javascript libraries for SVG. I also love reading code poetry.  So yes: coding can be as creative as you want! 

 

Another thing that gave me the confidence to learn how to code professionally out of the blue is my dad's influence: as an explorer, he always taught me how to step in new waters, and  to get comfortable with the unknown. He taught me that curiosity and imagination are probably the most important traits to have in life. This enabled me to just go for it, even if I was a humanities student and never had anything to do with tech. I went on exploring those new exciting territories just like he would have done. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"Beware of putting things in boxes: everything is connected. After all, creativity is just connecting the things!"

To reinvent ourselves! Sometimes, as girls, society can make us perceive ourselves in a certain way - I was this musician, painter, literary girl who studied philosophy in high school. When I started to show curiosity in STEM topics, it suddenly seemed out of reach, as if this was not my world. 

 

Steve Jobs sum ups what I now believe: "Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use."

 

You can do whatever you set your mind to; do not categorise things into "this is me" and "this isn't me". You can be and do everything at once, if you wish to. Choose everything! 

Why do you love working in STEM?

"It feels like we are architects of the future."

Working in STEM means that, if we want to, we can be involved in medtech, space exploration, tech-for-good, blockchain which presents another system of governance, and many more. I studied politics because I wanted to understand how one can positively impact the world around them. People working in tech actually had a real, direct impact, which was of political nature: working in STEM means that we can take part in adventures which can positively revolutionise a billion lives. 

Best advice for the next generation

Never ever feel discouraged if some people doubt your capabilities. When I started, a lot of times, I felt like I was not taken very seriously. It can hurt, especially if you are used to being praised in humanities: suddenly,  on STEM topics, you aren't listened to the same way at all. And it can either feel like we have to outwork everyone else because we have so much things to prove, or it would be easier to step into familiar waters. A few months ago, I felt like I was seriously burning out. The fear of not being good enough kept me going. I then forced myself to go on a break: and realised I was as good as the developers around me. I was doing very well. So take breaks, gain perspective, and be confident. If you do not feel as confident as you wish you were, stop whatever you are doing and work on building your confidence up right now. Trust the process.

Role model 

I used to play a lot of video games with my dad - I finished all of the Tomb Raiders. So when I grew up, my role model was Lara Croft! When people asked me what I wanted to be in the future, I would just say "I want to be badass like Lara Croft". It's quite funny when studies show that people who played video games were more likely to learn how to code: did it somehow influence me? Having Lara Croft as a role model growing up did for sure, though.