Meet WAVE Advisee: Sarah Fathelbab
Sarah is a Jr UX Designer at Union Crate in New York City. She shares her experience as a woman working in a male-dominated field on a popular Instagram she runs with her sister called @codingsisters.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Sarah, and I graduated from Montclair State University in 2018. I study Computer Science (CS) but I was originally studying to become a math teacher. It was only after I took a course called ‘Intro to Java’ that I was exposed to the potential of coding and the tech field.
My sister and I started an Instagram named @codingsisters. We wanted to bring light to our experience as women in a male-dominated field, and we wanted to use our platform to inspire other girls when it feels hard.
How did you discover the career you’re pursuing today?
Today, I’m a Jr UX Designer at Union Crate in New York City. I was in my final year in Computer Science and I took an elective class called ‘Intro to Human Interaction.’ On Day 1, the professional introduced us to the field of User Experience (UX) and I was immediately hooked. I was so excited to go to the class - and when I was working on class projects, it almost didn’t feel like work. I think that’s when the signals were clear.
User design has a huge impact on the products we use on a daily basis. You can have a great product or idea, but without someone properly thinking through how the user goes through that experience, the app won’t do any good. It was really cool to see that I could have that much impact.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned in your first job?
It’s been a learning experience from the get-go. Everything from knowing how you talk to your coworkers to when to be the first person to say “Can we have a meeting for this?”
As a student, I was really active in MSA (Muslim Student Association) so I learned a lot about how to run an organization. Everything I learned applies 100% to how I work today. You’re the one who has to be on top of every single thing. You don’t have a professor who gives you a syllabus. That’s why you should try to be active in different organizations at school because that experience will carry with you in the real world.
What was the biggest takeaway you have gotten from your Advisor?
The biggest lesson I learned from Shriya is to not underestimate the value in networking. Don’t be afraid to reach out to random people on LinkedIn and spend that extra $5-$10 to attend meetup events. Don't be afraid to walk up to someone and introduce yourself. People are open to helping you, you just have to ask. Everyone was basically once in your shoes so you just have to persevere through it.
I learned so much from Shriya. Words can’t even describe how amazing she is! Since our first Google Hangout chat, we automatically clicked. Even after we finished our WAVE session, she checked in every 2 weeks until I landed a job. It can be really difficult as a recent grad, so having that helping hand really pushed me forward.