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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Hazel Parreno, Software Engineer, at The LEGO Group

Hazel Parreno, Software Engineer, at The LEGO Group

ARTICLE SUMMARY

We recently spoke with Hazel Parreno, software engineer, at the Lego Group. Read about her career journey so far.

I’m a software engineer at the LEGO Group working in the Bionicles squad. Our squad deals with mobile apps and we’ve built a loyalty companion app and an app that allows customer to buy from the store, but have it delivered straight to their home address. Formerly, I was a trained accountant before making a career change to software engineering. Transitioning wasn’t easy as I’m largely self-taught, but It’s been three years now and I haven’t regretted it since.

WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN WORKING IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?

Tech is ever changing and always pushing boundaries. Tech now touches all aspects of our lives now with social media, smartphones, and things under the hood like AI powering most of the websites and apps we use daily. It has the potential to make our lives better and I wanted to be part of that.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS HAVE YOU FOUND MOST USEFUL TO HOLD AS A MEMBER OF THE ENGINEERING TEAM?

From the teams that I’ve been part of, there has been a mixture of backgrounds. There are those that are conventional like having a Computer Science degree, or unrelated degrees like Biology, or coming from a coding bootcamp or someone like me, a self-taught career changer. I believe what’s more important is that you have the right skills to do the job.

HOW CAN COMPANIES SUPPORT THE WOMEN IN TECH COMMUNITY BETTER AND HOW DOES LEGO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP YOUR CAREER?

At the LEGO Group, we have a mentoring scheme which not only helps you build more confidence in technical areas and also getting precious advise from people who have a lot of experience and knowledge navigating the tech world.

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN IN TECH LOOKING TO EXCEL AT THE INTERVIEW STAGE?

Preparation is always key. Ask your contact what the interview stages are. Most of the first stage is informal but after that that’s where the technical interviews kick in. I always ask for more information with regards to the technical interviews – does it involve whiteboarding, problem solving, etc.

For problem solving, websites like LeetCode, HackerRank, can help you with problem solving skills. It also helps if you examine the tech stack that the company has. It’s highly unlikely you are the perfect fit tech-wise – if you are honest about it most likely you got a call because you tick most of the boxes. Capitalise on that and brush up on some of the concepts of your chosen field.

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, DOES BEING A WOMAN IN TECH COME WITH EXTRA MENTAL CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME, SUCH AS DOUBTING YOUR OWN ABILITY?

Yes, I found that imposter syndrome is real. Because of my background, I was always hesitant to ask questions at first because some people might think that I was undeserving of this job. But what I found out is, not everyone has the answers all the time, even our tech leads with years and years of experience. Ask, because most of the time I got help.

IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE WOMEN IN TECH CONSIDERING A CAREER IN ENGINEERING THAT YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU?

It never gets easy. I thought, by now, I should have enough experience in coding that I could just coast on my experience day in, day out. But there are days where I question if I knew anything at all. Because of how fast paced tech can be, you’re always challenged to continue learning more as the concepts you’ve learned previously might get outdated with time. It will continue challenging you but also at the same time, it’s also equally rewarding.

LEARN MORE ABOUT WORKING AT THE LEGO GROUP

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