Alsia Plybeah, Software Engineer
Tell us a little bit about yourself…your hobbies and background.
I am a software engineer that dabbles in infrastructure from time to time. I also love gardening, playing guitar (badly), and exploring new areas.
How long have you been a software engineer?
I’ve been in this industry for about four years, but I’ve been coding since I was in middle school.
What got you into coding, cybersecurity, and software development?
I got my first taste of coding from MySpace and Tumblr. I spent a lot of time experimenting with the HTML editor, and at one point, I started making templates for others. I had a lot of fun doing this, and it inspired me to learn more about programming because there are so many things that scripts, computers, and their systems are capable of.
What do you love about the industry?
While my day-to-day work does touch on infrastructure and cybersecurity, one could describe my broader industry as “CivTech”. We’re focused on closing the gap between the public and the government in a community-centric way. Currently I build tools that increase access to government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and services such as tele-hearings for veterans.
What I love about this industry is that I get to see my work have a positive impact on others and I get to see a policy evolve from a proposal to a tangible service that people can use. In the technology field in general, I feel like people are encouraged to learn and grow as much as possible.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?
The top hold is so broad and vast that it can seem very intimidating to find a place to start. I recommend looking for groups that are based around technology that you like or want to learn. In my experience, these groups have been helpful for improving technical skills and learning about cool little known hacks. Another great spot to start are conferences, because they give an excellent introduction to the issues and the technical solutions that could be used.
What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?
Oh, l have a bunch!
- Harvard’s CS50 course: This is an free computer science course that focuses on foundational knowledge. This is a great place to start if you’ve never coded before, and you want the classroom experience.
- A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide by Cyd Harrell: if you’re curious about CivTech, this book is an amazing place to start.
What is one common myth about coding that you’d like to debunk?
You don’t need to memorize everything about a language to be a good coder. Coding is communicating in a way that both humans and computers can understand.
What are your hopes for women in coding and cybersecurity in the future?
I’m hoping to see more women in infrastructure and cybersecurity making technical decisions for projects.