Lexi Ross • Software Engineer • Facebook

Lexi Ross

Software Engineer • Facebook

“When I got to college at Harvard, I thought I wanted to study theater. I had to take a class for a math requirement, so I took a programming class and I fell in love with it. Every homework assignment felt like an amazing puzzle that was begging to be solved. At first, I thought I wasn’t smart enough to be a Computer Science major, but I kept taking classes for fun. One day, my roommate told me, ‘You clearly love this and you should switch your major.’ That was the push I needed to officially change my course. The thought of being a CS major made me feel really badass and empowered. I wanted people to ask me what my major was so I could tell them”.

Lexi’s first software engineering internship was at Pubget, where she parsed PDFs of scientific journal articles to link to other articles using natural language processing (NLP) techniques. She went on to intern at Google+ as a product manager on user growth.

She started at Facebook as a product manager and has worked on user profiles and growth. She’s most proud of leading the custom gender product, which allows users to choose a gender other than male or female. “There are a ton of people who didn’t feel like they had an identity online. I worked with GLAAD and led development of this feature that helps people to express their authentic identities on Facebook.”

Though Lexi was validated by her role as a product manager, she still felt the urge to code. She tried out a software engineering role out for a month building local ads and loved it. “It was an amazing time and it confirmed my belief that I could have more fun coding all day.” Now Lexi is an infrastructure engineer and builds tools for people to represent their businesses as Facebook Pages.

“Originally I thought I wasn’t good enough to be an engineer. I had a powerful revelation. It doesn’t matter what you think you are naturally good at; you will become good at whatever you are interested in and enjoy learning. Don’t get wrapped up in whether or not you have natural talent. Spend time doing what you enjoy and those will become your talents. I used to feel like other people were born coders, which is not true. Know that success comes from effort, not natural talent. If you enjoy coding, don’t worry about potential. Just code and practice and you will become good at it. Remember where you are now has no bearing on where you can go”.

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