How I became a techie: Grace Wang

Jun 13, 2016 1:00 PM ET
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“I realized that at the end of the day, the things I wanted to do the most were to solve cool, interesting problems and make a difference.” — Grace Wang

In my earliest memory of using tech, I was around 10. Both of my parents are computer programmers, and my dad decided he was going to teach me how to program in Visual Basic. I think I made a little program involving dinosaurs. The stuff that I learned wasn’t really coding so much as it was formatting blocks and attributing actions to them, like clicking to get more information. The things I remember most clearly are this big desktop computer, dial-up internet, and my dad. 

When I was in high school, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go into computer science. I was always really good at math and science, and I enjoyed them, but I also had a lot of other interests. I was in band. I played sports. I was in the school play. And for a while, I was convinced that I wanted to be a lawyer. Throughout high school, I took all of these classes and extracurriculars, and researched all kinds of careers. I realized that at the end of the day, what I wanted to do the most was to solve cool, interesting problems and make a difference. And the best place for me to do that was in the field of technology.

Recently, I was on vacation and I had an hour-long conversation with my AirBnB host on mobile security, privacy and policy. She wasn’t sure that she was entitled to have an opinion since she wasn’t part of the tech industry. But it’s important for people to talk about these issues — to be informed and have a voice, because these issues affect everyone.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who call themselves nontechnical and who find technical things scary or intimidating. I encourage them to give it a try, by taking a course, going to a technical talk, or just asking questions. Technology, specifically the mobile world, is so much a part of everyone’s lives. It’s intrinsic to everything we do.  

Grace Wang is a senior engineer in the Product Security Group at Qualcomm Technologies, working with different business units to make products more secure. She’s currently on the board of the Qualcomm Women in Science & Engineering and leads their Presentation Series program, where external speakers speak to employees on themes such as leadership and overcoming fears.