“Being bold lends itself well to being able to work on the things that truly spark joy for you”
Anna Weber is a part of the second cohort of MSSE (Molecular Science and Software Engineering) master’s students, slated to graduate in May 2023. Here, she shares about her experience in the MSSE program, passion for math and set theory, and thoughts on the sandwich alignment chart.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Anna Weber, I am a huge math nerd, I have a 1-year-old mini-Goldendoodle puppy named Pascal, and I love the outdoors. Currently, I work as a software engineer at a company called Upstart.
Anna and Pascal
I recently moved to San Francisco from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I enjoy doing pretty much any type of physical activity but I especially enjoy running, biking, swimming, and paddleboarding.
I also really love visual art. As an undergrad, I minored in studio art and I still love spending time making art in my free time. I particularly enjoy ceramics/pottery because it is a combination of art and science because of all of the chemistry involved in making clays and glazes.
Art by Anna
What did you study as an undergraduate student? How has that influenced your current path and professional career ambitions? Alternatively, did you pursue a career completely different from your undergraduate degree?
I studied computer science and engineering as an undergraduate at Ohio State University. Going into college I knew I wanted to work on computer software in some capacity so this area of study was a really good fit. It allowed me to develop a solid foundation of skills that are really useful in my day-to-day life as a full-time software engineer. I spent the first two years working as a software engineer at Target where I primarily focused on infrastructure and operations-centered work, so a lot of backend-heavy development work. I have found that is really where I excel. I also discovered I really enjoyed creating software that allowed those around me to do their jobs more efficiently. I left Target late spring of 2021 and took on a new software engineering role at a company called Upstart. In my new role, I get to really focus on creating tooling that helps those who work at upstart do their jobs faster and more efficiently which is really exciting work.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
I am always learning new things so I get to continue to grow every day which is cool. I also love that as a software engineer I get to spend a lot of time trying to answer questions and solve problems that don’t have a single correct solution. I basically just get to spend my days working on solving different kinds of puzzles. It is challenging work but it is also really exciting.
What brought you to the MSSE program at Berkeley?
I have always been really passionate about science and math and that translated into me studying software engineering. That being said, I felt like the MSSE program would provide me with more specialized skills that would allow me to not only develop into a stronger software engineer, but would also provide me with the expertise required to develop software that will enable researchers to more efficiently solve challenging and exciting problems. The idea of an interdisciplinary program was really important to me because I want the opportunity to work at the intersection of groundbreaking scientific research and the innovative technologies that enable it to happen.
What inspired you to enroll in a fully online graduate program?
I knew enrolling in a full-time graduate program wasn’t going to make sense for me because I wanted to be able to balance my development in a professional environment with my education. The fully online program gives me the flexibility to do that. It really is the best of both worlds. I was a little hesitant that I would not be able to form some of the strong bonds that I might be able to make with my peers with an in-person program, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the close relationships I have already made in a short time with my peers despite not all being in a single place.
What is something that you’re passionate about now?
Recently I have been super excited by set theory, particularly the study of infinite sets and their characteristics. Like I shared earlier, I am a huge math nerd and I do spend some of my free time reading math papers and books on various math topics. Recently I have been reading a lot about the continuum hypothesis and the attempts to prove or disprove it. It is a subject that is fascinating to me and I love talking about it.
What advice do you have for future MSSE students and grads?
Be willing to be adventurous with your career. Obviously, having goals and dreams is super important, but giving yourself the freedom to change direction when you find something that ignites a passion opens a lot of doors to work on exciting things you would otherwise miss out on. It is normal to have plans change slightly as you grow and learn more about yourself and your interests. Being bold lends itself well to being able to work on the things that truly spark joy for you.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Definitely a morning person. I think after finishing undergrad I just was left permanently associating staying up late with being stressed and trying to finish assignments or study so being up early is much more relaxing for me.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window?
An avocado tree. I am obsessed with it! I grew up in the midwest so it is such a cool thing to see an avocado tree outside my window.
How would your friends describe you?
Probably the first word would be loud… I have a slight lack of volume control especially when I am excited about something.
Do you think a hotdog is a sandwich?
No, I am pretty rigid on the structural requirements for a sandwich, so unless the bun is sliced all the way so you have two separate pieces of “bread”, a hot dog is not a sandwich. On the sandwich alignment chart (if you haven’t heard of this definitely worth checking out), I fall under the category of Structural Purist and Ingredient Rebel.
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