Bridget Spitznagel

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Bridget Spitznagel

Software Engineer at Google

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Was there a particular person or event that influenced your career choice? I always liked math and science.  We had home computers when I was a kid, and we wrote little BASIC programs, but I didn’t consider computers as a career until I was a freshman in college. A friend talked me into taking the intro course for computer science majors for a lark.  It was a lot of fun!  In the other science-based majors I was considering, I could learn “what makes things work”, but in this one I could actually “make things work.” One of the two lecturers was a woman, and she was pregnant, which was a real stand-out from my other classes as well. That summer I got a good job back in my home town on the strength of one freshman programming class(!) so it was clearly a very practical major. Surprisingly, one of my coworkers there was also pregnant. The example of these two women really demonstrated to me that computer science was not just a field where I would be welcome too, but also a flexible enough field to raise a family. But mostly, I owe it to the friend who talked me into trying something new!

 What career did you imagine yourself in as a child? I wanted to be a Jedi Knight or an astronaut. I also admired the fictional mother in “A Wrinkle in Time” who was a famous scientist while raising a family (she cooked stew over a Bunsen burner while working from home! The book was older than microwave ovens.)  This seemed more feasible than Jedi Knight.

Read more about her career! Software Engineer, Computer Scientist

400modtechBio: Bridget previously attend MIT for her undergraduate degree and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science for her Ph.D. Bridget says software engineering is an interesting field because it’s always rapidly changing and evolving, but it also has a playful atmosphere and people do not take themselves too seriously. Analytical thinking, love of learning and teamwork skills are all important for this career.

Software engineering can be a good field for someone who is on the shy side because it involves a lot of independent work. However, Bridget says, “You still have to present your ideas to others, meet new people and form cooperative relationships with them if you want to make a change in the world. So while there are big intellectual challenges too, shyness has probably been the hardest part for me. Good news, you get better with practice!” This communication with team members could be in person in the Pittsburgh office, through email, over videoconference, or even travel to another Google office location. Although Bridget doesn’t find public speaking to be the easiest task, she’s working on improving. “I helped start a Toastmasters chapter at work to help other people here who are shy, so most of my personal goals are around that: becoming a better and more confident speaker and helping others to do the same.” She also hopes to learn the new “Go” programming language and start a Brownie troop.