Software Engineer · Instagram
A career switch is one that frightens many, but Brina Lee did not let that fear stop her. After finishing her degree in Communications she started working a marketing and graphic design job at a small startup. Brina found herself dabbling in many areas and found her passion for coding as she built the company’s website. In fact, she rebuilt this website three different times, each time from scratch. “I love building something with my own hands. It’s such a visual accomplishment.” Brina took a class online for C# and something inside her clicked. She finished prerequisites for a Masters degree in Computer Science and landed a User Experience Design (UX) internship at Yahoo!. Shortly after, Brina completed her Masters degree in Computer Science at UC San Diego. She interned at Google, where she built a My Maps feature and at Facebook, where she worked on Timeline and went on to work there full time.
When Brina came back to Facebook full time, she joined Instagram Android team and became the first woman engineer at Instagram. “I specifically chose an all male team because I wanted to have an impact on the culture and bring a unique perspective. I also love the community on Instagram and how people find each other with similar interests.” Brina built the post editing tool, many growth features, and has worked on various parts all over the Instagram Android app, like the activity feed, search and explore, and Instagram Direct.
Looking back Brina says, “switching to a tech career isn’t easy. In fact, it is really, really hard. It took over two years before I felt a sliver of confidence in myself. It’s like walking into a black hole for the longest time with no light at the end of the tunnel of success or not. The way I look at it, you have to fake it until you make it. You have to try a bunch of things to find those pieces that ignites the passion within you. When I got one step closer solving problems through coding, I could feel the fire burn a little stronger each time.”