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Software Engineer, Infrastructure Automation
Graduating from college is always tumultuous—and that was especially true for Sarina Mak. The Pennsylvania native received her computer science degree from the University of Texas at Dallas in May 2020, just as the COVID 19 pandemic was heating up. When it came time to start her career, the challenges still continued, as she had to become part of a new office while working remotely.
Sarina, however, likes a challenge; not only did she move across the country to attend college, but she thrived in her new environment, picking up rock climbing as a new hobby. In her spare time, she's also become an animal rights activist...in a state known for its brisket and which lays claim to the invention of the corn dog.
Who would you say has been the biggest influence in your life?
Both of my parents are big influences , to be honest, but Mom especially was. She always wanted me to strive for more challenging opportunities at school and, when I was looking for a job, to be looking for more challenging opportunities.
She always tells me to definitely keep learning —especially in technology, because the trends change so fast, and you have to keep learning to keep up. When I involve myself in work, I try to seek out opportunities that will help me learn new skills so I don't stagnate.
What's the biggest obstacle you feel like you've had to overcome in your life?
It would be my shyness! I think I overcame this obstacle during college, especially since I was working in a retail job before I got into computer science. And then, through being involved in clubs as well as in class, I had to do presentations and public speaking, which meant I had to learn to work through my discomfort.
What does success look like to you?
In terms of my career, success is feeling heard at work and being able to bring value to my team.
On top of that, it's definitely having a good balance between work and personal time. I want to have spare time for the activities I love — for working out, for rock climbing and for participating in animal activism. The last bit brings me such a sense of fulfillment, just to know that you can stand up for beings — animals that people are eating or experimenting on — which don't have a voice to speak up themselves. That really brings a sense of purpose and fulfillment to my life.
I really enjoy spending time outside of work visiting my family as well — luckily they live close by — which I try to do every week. I'm my parents' only child; they like to keep me close.
Are there other groups or communities that you volunteer with?
When I was in college, I found out about a student hackathon called Code for Good that works with non profits. The prospect of creating solutions for the non profits really excited me so I decided to join the program created for full-time employees called Force for Good.
Our Force For Good team here worked with a local museum—the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas—to create a map that visitors can use to guide them through the museum without assistance and to answer commonly-asked questions about the museum.
Where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
I definitely want to remain in software engineering—I've been enjoying that. And maybe that will include being involved in a lot of the initiatives such as Force for Good. Being able to give back to the community with my skills—I really like that.