“It’s really the coolest thing ever,” Jessica Anastasio ’16 says of working as a full-stack software engineer at BuzzFeed, a leading independent digital media company that delivers news and entertainment to hundreds of millions of people around the world. The 23-year-old, who was hired right out of Monmouth, was lead engineer on the Tasty.co website, which corresponds with the recently launched iOS app “Tasty,” which Anastasio also worked on. Based on BuzzFeed’s popular online cooking brand, it includes more than 1,700 instructional cooking videos and syncs with the Tasty One Top, a new smart cooking appliance. Here, in true BuzzFeed fashion, she shares tips on how anyone can land their dream job.
1. Follow your heart.
Though fascinated by computers and coding, Anastasio considered majoring in graphic design “because the culture that surrounds engineering is intimidating, I felt like I’d fit in as a woman designer versus as an engineer,” she says, citing the oft-reported bias against women in the tech industry. Ultimately, she followed her passion and entered Monmouth as a computer science major.
2. Embrace challenges.
Being the only woman in a handful of her core classes was daunting at times, but it taught her the importance of challenging herself. “It’s just fighting through… and not letting [anything] stop you” that’s important, she says.
3. Network, network, network.
“I adored my experience at Monmouth, but you will 100 percent not get an awesome, high-paying job if you don’t… do stuff outside of the classroom,” says Anastasio. Joining ACM/IEEE, Monmouth’s computer science club, connected her to the larger engineering and computing communities. So too did attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest conference of women working in tech, as a student. (She’s headed back this year as a rep for BuzzFeed.)
4. Get an internship. Better yet, get several.
Attending a career fair early on at Monmouth helped Anastasio connect with several companies, which in turn helped her build the experience she needed to get where she is today.
5. Be your own advocate.
Anastasio was already eyeing her next step when she was hired as a junior software engineer in May 2016. She took the challenging assignments, and didn’t hesitate to ask her boss what she needed to do to advance. “It’s all about reaching out and trying to put yourself out there,” she says. In less than a year she was promoted to software engineer. “I can see myself continuing up the ladder, but I’m happy with where I am for my age and I feel like I’m on a good path for sure.”