Women in Software Engineering: CivTech Specialist, Alsia Plybeah

As we continue to honor women in tech for women’s history monthwe are pleased to feature CivTech software engineer Alsia Plybeah, in our series, Honor Code: Women in Software Development, JavaScript and Cybersecurity. Learn more about Alsia’s experiences in the world of software engineering and its great recommendations on learning to code on your own.

Alsia Plybeah, software engineer

Tell us a bit about yourself…your hobbies and background.

I’m a software engineer who occasionally touches on infrastructure. I also like gardening, playing the guitar (badly) and exploring new areas.

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How long have you been a software engineer?

I’ve been in this industry for about four years, but I’ve been coding since I was in college.

What brought you to coding, cybersecurity and software development?

I got my first taste of coding on MySpace and Tumblr. I spent a lot of time experimenting with the HTML editor, and at some point started creating templates for others. I had a lot of fun doing this and it inspired me to learn more about programming because there is so much that scripts, computers and their systems are capable of.

What do you like about the industry?

Although my day-to-day work touches on infrastructure and cybersecurity, my broader industry could be described as “CivTech”. We focus on bridging the gap between public and government in a community-centered way. Currently, I create tools that improve access to government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and services like tele-hearings for veterans.

What I love about this industry is that I see my work having a positive impact on others and seeing policy evolve from a proposition to a tangible service that people can use. In tech in general, I feel like people are encouraged to learn and grow as much as possible.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career similar to yours?

The upper hold is so wide and expansive that it can seem very daunting to find a starting point. I recommend looking for groups based on technology that you like or want to learn. In my experience, these groups have been helpful in improving technical skills and learning about little-known hacks. Lectures are another good place to start, as they provide a great introduction to problems and technical solutions that could be used.

What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?

Oh, I have a bunch!

  • Free coding course has many lessons for JavaScript, libraries such as Sass, React, and back-end programming. I liked the interface of the website and found the pace of the lessons to be reasonable.
  • Harvard CS50 course: This is a free computer course that focuses on fundamental knowledge. It’s a great place to start if you’ve never coded before and want to experience it in the classroom.
  • HTML and CSS by Jon Duckett: An excellent book with best practices in HTML and CSS. It also affects design. This author also has a book on JavaScript which is a great read.
  • A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide by Cyd Harrell: If you’re curious about CivTech, this book is a great place to start.

What’s a common coding myth you’d like to debunk?

You don’t have to memorize everything about a language to be a good coder. Coding is about communicating in a way that humans and computers can understand.

What are your hopes for women in coding and cybersecurity in the future?

I hope to see more women in infrastructure and cybersecurity making technical decisions for projects.

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*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Feracin written by Mary. Read the original post at: https://www.feroot.com/blog/women-of-software-engineering-civtech-specialist-alsia-plybeah/

Gordon K. Morehouse