Mar 7, 2022

Turning my Passion for Math into a Career in Computer Science

Selin Barash
Associate Backend Engineer

Selin Barash is an associate backend engineer on the Partner Tech team, providing the best experience and products to the partners of GetYourGuide. She explains what led her to study computer science and join GetYourGuide as an engineer.


Following my love for math to computer science

Choosing what to study was a challenging phase for me since I was interested in many different subjects. Math was my favorite, but I was also interested in literature, business, and natural sciences.

When trying to decide, I thought to myself, “In today’s world whatever I do in the future I will be interacting with computers. By studying computer science, I could work in a lot of fields after completing my degree.”

Having flexibility for what I can do in the future, and my joy for math prompted me to study computer science, and I am very happy that I took this path.

When I entered the classroom for the first time, I realized that there were very few women students studying computer science. I had already heard that the rate of women Bachelor students was between 12 and 15 percent at ETH in Zurich but seeing it made me question whether I belonged to that place in the beginning.

Luckily I had three brilliant female professors during my first year who showed me that women can be very successful in any field they want. The way they approached complex concepts and the passion they had for what they were teaching impressed me during their lectures. I was also very inspired by our former rector, Sarah Springman, who was a female engineer and an advocate for women in STEM.

By having these role models, the low percentage of women in my field became less meaningful. I was even more encouraged to pursue my career, always keeping in mind to do the same for other women that my professors did for me.

Hiring for a strong company culture

I had a very coincidental encounter with GetYourGuide. After completing my Bachelor’s, my initial plan was to start my Master’s right away and only start looking for a job after. One day, I had a message on Linkedin from Navid informing me of an associate position. Even though it wasn’t part of my plan, I decided to try. It was my first job interview process, so I didn’t know what to expect.

In the beginning, I had two technical interviews and it was obvious that high standards were set for the technical level of the candidates. What was essential for me to decide to work for GetYourGuide were the interviews that came after the technical ones. I had four more HR interviews where I realized that they were looking for much more than just technical skills. They were also looking for great communication skills, people who have a lot of different interests outside their jobs, are all-rounders, and are team players.

I was very surprised when at the later steps of the hiring process, Udi Nir CTO of GetYourGuide, made time to get to know me better. I was impressed that the managers in the company put in a genuine effort to understand whether the people they’re hiring at all levels are a good fit for the company culture. Observing these during my interview process, I was convinced that this was an ideal place to take the first steps into my career. In the end, I was very happy to join GetYourGuide.

A supportive Engineering environment

All of my team members on the engineering team have been very supportive and patient from the beginning. They’re always a Zoom call away whenever I have a technical problem with my development environment or questions about the concepts.

My engineering manager makes time to have weekly 1:1 meetings with me to talk about my growth as an associate. He shares his observations and the opportunities I have ahead in and outside our team. During the technical depth meetings in our team, I’m able to express my ideas and ask follow-up questions and my voice was equally heard notwithstanding my level of experience. Working in such a team motivates me to improve myself each day.

On my first day, all the new joiners met for an office tour at the information desk. I was very happy to see that three of the four new joiners were women engineers. It was a completely different experience from my first time entering the lecture hall at University.

When I first joined our team, I wasn’t the only woman engineer and Kritika had recently been hired as our new engineering manager. Seeing the trust and support GetYourGuide provides for women engineers makes me feel more confident.

Diversity of thought to increase the number of women in software engineering

Not every woman around the world feels welcomed in their work environment. If we look at a 2016 study, we see that in 2014, women held only 26% of computing occupations, which is down from 36% in 1991.

For me this is striking because one would think that we’re living in this digital era, computers are everywhere so there should be more need for the workforce in this field yet there is a drastic drop in women becoming software engineers.

I think that diversity of thought is the key to solving complex problems and creating products that everybody will use and love.

It’s impossible to be successful at satisfying the needs of the majority without the participation of half of the population in it.

My advice for women software engineers looking to enter the workforce

First, don’t let the statistics discourage you from entering this field. There is nothing more beautiful than breaking the rigid stereotypes in people's minds. This allows more people to feel connected, and find something for themselves in this field.

Second, in the beginning, don’t compare yourself to other people who have a lot of years of experience. Take it as a chance and grow by working with them. Try to find your unique style, add this to the field, and sharpen it.

Third, don’t stay in a work environment for a long time where you don’t feel comfortable and  can’t improve. I believe that success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success.

Fourth, don’t hesitate to share your ideas and ask questions. Whenever you’re in doubt, remember that “curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery” as Victor Hugo said ;)

If you’re interested in joining our Engineering team, check out our open roles.

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