A memoir of my transition to tech. Scroll to the end for a breakdown of my timeline and total costs.

a piggy bank wearing a tiara and a tutu standing above small denominations of US currency

When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in May of 2015, I had no real career prospects. Truth be told, I struggled for the first half of college deciding what major to pursue and eventually settled on biology. I knew the only way I’d make a living in that field was with a PhD. So, I embarked down the prescribed academic track, gathering lab and field work experience and hoping to land co-authorships in scientific journal articles. My plan fell apart my senior year of college when I got cold feet. I was doing voluntary lab work for my mentor…

Get promoted by honing your written communication skills

If you’re interested in advancing within the engineering field and earning higher pay, you’ll need to increase two major factors of your work:

  1. your scope of influence
  2. the complexity of the tasks you take on

This is best achieved by influencing technical direction via your ability to express ideas so people can agree with and understand your intentions. In the tech field, these conversations mostly happen in writing.

Software engineers don’t like meetings. They prefer to see data and read evidence on their own time. Strong communication skills are the “biggest determiner of success in the modern engineer’s professional career,”…

How to surround yourself with allies, step by step.

five people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities

I am not your typical tech worker. I am a woman, and tech is my second career. Anyone who can relate and has sat in enough male-dominated meetings knows that two things become obvious after working in the field for awhile. First, networking is invaluable. Second, the more similar you are to the elite college educated, straight, white male, tech worker stereotype, the better you’ll do, because the simpler networking is.

When you go to college, at least half of what you’re purchasing isn’t a degree, it’s a professional network and grooming process that trains you to think and behave…

In Fall of 2020, I received job offers from Facebook and Microsoft (both entry level positions) and made it to the final round with Amazon (a mid level position). Shockingly, I don’t have a degree in computer science (C.S.), as I’ve previously written. While it’s widely known that a C.S. degree is not required to get into I.T., all engineering candidates hoping to break into big tech must prove that they have a solid grasp of C.S. fundamentals. Here I share my plan on how I tackled learning those concepts and prepping for my 2020 round of job applications.

Technical Interviews


My favorite advice from teachers of stand-up comedy and storytelling on YouTube

  1. Write about what you know
  2. Serious, serious, silly
  3. Address your appearance early on
  4. Likability = confidence + humility
  5. Try to make the ordinary extraordinary
  6. Play with timelines
  7. Take two dissimilar ideas and saying they’re similar; use analogies
  8. Know the rules before you break the rules
  9. Create intrigue; consider a preamble
  10. Answer side questions to continue with the story
  11. Get attention before your story
  12. Commit to your stories with characters e.g. body language, voices
  13. Experiment; when something gets laughs, try to reuse it
  14. Notice how and why you tend…

A visual guide to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) native plants from Swanson’s Rain Garden Plant Selection guide.

Zone 1

What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

— Kurt Vonnegut, 1974

a monkey typing on a typewriter

Hi, it’s Kairsten. After recently watching Netflix’s show The Midnight Gospel, I decided to start a writing club. In this club, we will exercise our minds by communicating our thoughts and feelings on sundry topics encompassed by the human experience. The working format of the club is as follows:

  1. [0–5 mins] Meet and greet
  2. [6–10 mins] Writing warm-up; stream of consciousness exercise using a…

Kairsten Fay

Storyteller, self-taught software engineer, and experimental hobbyist. Working @ Facebook Open Source, Seattle. she/her 🏳️‍🌈

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