How an architecture graduate became a coder

Back-end engineer Yang Lyu couldn’t find a job as an architect after graduation and ended up as a software developer after discovering her flair for coding

When Yang Lyu graduated with an architecture degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, little did she realise that the next steps she was about to take in her career would lead her to a different path.

While she enjoyed her undergraduate studies, she faced challenges in landing an architecture job. A friend then introduced her to a telecommunications engineering role at a service partner that was working with NBN Co, the operator of Australia’s national broadband network.

She took up the job, where she had the opportunity to interact with developers who implemented AutoCAD plugins and wrote program scripts to improve her team’s efficiency. Over time, she also came to learn more about website design.

“Programmers seem to have a pretty fun career and they also enjoy what they do, so I got myself enrolled in Deakin University to study C++ and SQL,” she says. “The idea was to give it a go and see how it went. I actually did pretty well, and I quite liked it.”

Having discovered her flair for coding, Lyu went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in computer science, capping her academic credentials with a stint as a cloud engineer at an Australian bank as part of Deakin’s internship programme.

She did well enough to be offered a full-time role at the bank, where she spent over two years as part of a team that dealt with the Kubernetes container orchestration platform and other support tasks. Though the hours were long, her experience was fulfilling when new software features got released into production.

“It was an amazing journey and towards the end of that journey, I started getting more into DevOps as I found myself liking some of the back-end development and code debugging,” says Lyu.

Today, Lyu works as a back-end engineer at Australian technology services firm Kablamo, taking on projects such as building a financial services application for a client. When she started at Kablamo, her mentor at the company got her up to speed through a series of tasks that helped to build her confidence in the role.

“This industry really welcomes gender diversity. Much of what I felt initially regarding the stereotypes of women and men in tech are not necessarily true”
Yang Lyu, Kablamo

More recently, she became involved in an integration project that uses third-party application programming interfaces (APIs) which turned out to be buggy. “Every time I push out the code, there’s a delay in seeing the results. There are a lot of challenges, but what really helps is that Kablamo takes a controlled approach to help people learn from their mistakes instead of taking a critical view.”

What keeps Lyu going as a coder despite the fast pace of technology development – which gets overwhelming at times – is her sense of curiosity. Her days are never dull, and she enjoys exploring new ways of working. “I guess the playfulness and interest definitely helps.”

Lyu says she has not experienced any discrimination throughout her career, even though she is often one of a handful of women in her teams. That said, she still looked out for female role models when she first interned at the bank.

“Was there anything in particular in the way they dressed, the way they talked or the way they did things? Do I need to do things in a certain way? I looked around to see if there were any role models I could follow,” she recalls.

“But I later realised that this industry really welcomes gender diversity and much of what I felt initially regarding the stereotypes of women and men in tech were not necessarily true.”

Notwithstanding, many technology teams are still dominated by men, which Lyu finds boggling given that “coding is more exciting compared to my previous work in telecommunications where we had to be involved in construction”.

Part of the problem, Lyu reckons, could be gender roles that boys and girls grow into, and the lack of role models to debunk gender stereotypes. “If there are more role models who can show people that it’s not hard to get into technology and software development, I think there will be more women doing this kind of work,” she says.

Moving forward, Lyu hopes to delve into areas such as site reliability engineering and hone her leadership skills so she can have an impact on others without necessarily being a manager. “I want to continue coding as that gives me a sense of achievement, while having more influence on the side.”

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