Carolyn Lesser

Carolyn Lesser

Director of Engineering


Microsoft

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
Found a love in sports, especially soccer, and enjoy the teamwork and friendly competition.
Challenge accepted: I built a bridge out of tongue depressors and glue that withstood my weight.
Cut from JV basketball and became the manager - immersed in a world of stats and data.
Then I took a Pascal Programming class and I LOVED creating programs that solved problems.
Went to an engineering expo and hidden in the back found the Computer Science major. I'm Interested!
I interned at Microsoft, and fell in love with designing and engineering SOFTWARE.
Volunteered teaching tech to 4th grade Girls computer club. Took many tries to explain Y2K bug. 
Found a team that combines 2 loves: SOFTWARE + LEARNING.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
Midlothian High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Computer Science
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Career

Career

Director of Engineering

I lead a multi-discipline engineering team that creates inclusive online learning experiences.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Engineering
Engineering
Education
Education
Learning / Being Challenged
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

A great day starts and ends with learning, all centered around our customers. It includes a check-in on our real-time vision, business, operational, and behavioral dashboards and some time spent using our own products and services. I touch base with my engineering leads and conduct a quick huddle for addressing possible problems and concerns. I connect with our organization's functional leaders and business stakeholders and work through a prioritized list of items that need my attention.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Two primary skills: Growth Mindset and Collaboration. You will not know everything nor will everything that you do end in success. However, you can always approach it with a mentality to keep learning, reflect upon what's happened and make changes. Have an openness to try and experiment and continue to improve. And of course collaboration. Much of what I'm able to do requires the collective efforts of a diverse team and many interconnected systems. We have to communicate well and be dependable.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Find internships!  Technology (and Computer Science) is such an expansive field. There are a multitude of disciplines and domains. Use internships to explore your areas of interest and find the types of roles and fields you're interested in. You'll often find that what you experience in your internship will be new learning opportunities. I learned object oriented programming in my 1st internship before covering it in school and was exposed to different software development practices.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Computer Science
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"You won't be able to install this. You won't figure it out."

Not all assumptions are true. You'll never know unless you try and in many cases there's a wealth of resources from your own intuition and ability, to online communities, to your friends that will enable you to succeed. Don't allow others to paint you into a corner or dictate your capability.

Challenges I Overcame

The Minority
The Minority

When you're the minority, it can feel lonely and isolating. One of only 4 out of 100. You're probably the trail blazer. Look for the common threads (passions, hobbies, etc.) outside what makes you the minority to connect rather than divide.