As part of an ongoing series, engineers share a bit of what life is like at Pinterest. Here, engineer Wendy Lu talks about discovering her love for Computer Science, building the Pinterest iOS app, and escaping Alcatraz.
How did you get involved with Computer Science?
I started college with an interest in sociology and statistics, specifically large scale relationship theory, social networks, and graph theory. I took a class as a freshman, Advanced Social Network Analysis, where we used a Python package called NetworkX. I decided that to truly learn this type of analysis, I should take some more classes in the CS department. I ended up enjoying the department so much that I decided to switch majors.
What are you working on right now?
I work on the mobile team, focusing on the iOS app. I’m currently experimenting with making notifications a more engaging and attractive experience. I’m also working on monitoring and logging performance in our apps.
How would you describe Pinterest’s engineering culture?
It’s a super collaborative culture! We work very closely with designers, community, communications, and all of the other engineering teams to solve problems together.
What’s your favorite Pinterest moment?
I really enjoyed our last Make-a-thon (our version of a hackathon). It’s inspiring to see people across different teams working together and how much teams can accomplish in such a short time frame.
My team worked on a yet-to-be-released feature that involved people from the design, discovery, mobile, BlackOps, and web engineering teams. We won two awards: “Pinployees Choice” and “Pinners Most Wanted”, for building a feature that’s highly requested by the community. To keep with tradition, we capped off a night of hacking with a 5am Denny’s trip.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
After work I can usually be found at the dance studio or swimming laps at the YMCA. Then I’ll listen to Sci-fi audiobooks until I fall asleep. Right now I’m liking the series written by Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game). I’m also always exploring all that San Francisco has to offer. The numerous brunch spots are my favorite!
What do you do to get inspired?
I try to surround myself with people who I admire, which is easy to do that at Pinterest! I also find it extremely healthy to daydream- whether that’s through a scenic road trip, while listening or playing music, or through a good book that makes you think.
What’s your latest interest?
I’m doing a swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco in September with a couple of friends. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since moving to San Francisco, but it will only be my second open water race, so something tells me that I should start training in the Bay soon.
I competed as a synchronized swimmer for 10 years, and was a member of the U.S. Junior National team and the Stanford Varsity team.
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