We sat down with Rue Ching Teh, a Software Engineer in our Sydney office and a third-year software engineering student at UNSW, to find out why she chose this career path, what motivates her and what life is like at WiseTech.
When did you join WiseTech Global?
I'm currently a third-year software engineering student at UNSW, and as a part of the UNSW Co-Op Program, I was able to undertake a 24-week placement with WiseTech. The Co-op Program connects students and industry partners, and helps students get an understanding of the industry landscape and what it's like to work in a professional environment. Once my placement finished, I joined WiseTech and am working around my studies.
When did you realize you wanted to be a software engineer?
It's actually pretty interesting, because my family all work in finance and banking, but my sister took a bit of a different path and decided to study software engineering. She’s 14 years older than me so at a pretty young age I got to see the sort of work she was doing, and I thought it was quite cool seeing her code and the interactions she had with others. I also saw that she was able to work from home and often choose work hours that suited her, which I knew wasn’t really the case in finance. So choosing a career that offered flexibility was really important to me.
Also, in high school there was a program called ‘UNSW Access for Women’ which supported and encouraged young women to study STEM. So being part of this initiative and getting the opportunity to talk to industry representatives and women who were working in tech roles provided me with a clearer picture of what the tech industry is like, the change they bring, and this really solidified that it was the career path I wanted to take.
What has your experience at WiseTech been like?
When I joined, my first rotation was in the Customs team and I was really fortunate to have an amazing mentor, Grace. She was really supportive throughout the 4-week introductory training. We had really engaging conversations, she taught me about the industry and introduced me to a lot of different people which helped me feel comfortable.
On the technical side, it was definitely a daunting experience because there’s so much you need to learn and at the same time, I really wanted to deliver value to the team. But with the help of my mentors and colleagues, I was able to adopt a growth mindset and focus on developing my skills rather than being fixated on my mistakes or things I didn’t know. And everyone was really understanding as we’re in university and we’re still learning, so they’re constantly teaching us how things work along the way.
Over time, I eventually built the confidence to reach out to people and ask if they wanted to grab a coffee or catch up. And you realize that you really can ask anyone anything at any time, which is one of our mantras. I remember after my introductory placement had ended, the Customs team invited me to the Christmas lunch and that was really mind-blowing to me. The fact that I was still included, and I felt like a part of the team even after my placement ended, that made me realize that this isn’t just a workplace, it’s a community.
What’s an achievement you’re most proud of?
Being selected for UNSW’s Co-op Program was definitely an achievement I’m proud of. Particularly because I’d relocated to Australia only a few years earlier, and I didn’t fully understand the culture or how the education system worked. So being recognised for my efforts was really a testament to my character and my determination.
At WiseTech, my greatest achievement has been pushing code to production and helping others when I can. Being surrounded by highly intelligent, experienced people, it’s easy to get into a mentality of thinking you don’t know anything or that you shouldn’t share your opinions because it may sound silly. So then being able to help others with a problem or answer a question has really built my confidence in realizing how much I’ve learnt and is quite fulfilling.
What advice would you give to young people, particularly young women, interested in a career in technology?
When I realized I wanted to study technology, it was a bit daunting because I was the only female in my group doing it and jumping into a career by yourself is definitely one of the scariest things to do, I think. But then I realized that there’s all these support networks out there, like Access for Women and the Girls Programming Network. So I started meeting like-minded people and I felt like I had other people alongside me pursuing the same career, and that was really comforting. So my first piece of advice would be to find a support network and reach out to people who are in the same boat as you because it definitely makes it a lot more enjoyable.
The second piece of advice I would give is to just give things a go! Whether that means going on to Code Academy to learn Python or learning how to write a small program. Just experimenting and growing your skillset will enable you to build your confidence, and it’ll also give you a really good head start in your career.
Pursuing a career in tech can be really challenging, because you're surrounded by so many skilled individuals, so sometimes you might feel a sense of imposter syndrome kicking in. But I think being able to just take a second to remind yourself of your passion, why you started tech in the first place, and what you're capable of is really important.
What keeps you motivated?
Recently I’ve been listening to podcasts which I find really motivating. Hearing people’s stories about what they’re working towards or have accomplished really inspires me to want to do better.
The second thing that motivates me is being involved with people who are like-minded, whether that’s at WiseTech or in the Co-op Program. Being able to build a network of people who are driven and have a common goal means we’re able to motivate each other and pick each other up. I might get stuck on a work problem and will start to feel a bit down that I haven’t resolved it, and that’s when the support network kicks in. We encourage and lift each other up, and remind ourselves of what we’re trying to achieve, whether that’s to learn or deliver value to customers.
The last thing that keeps me motivated is anything sweet. I love desserts and I am a big fan of bubble tea!