your daily code for breakfast

In the Spotlight 28: Tracy Mu Sung

It’s so nice to meet female developers and IT professionals from all over the world! This week we’re going to Australia to visit web developer Tracy Mu Sung. Enjoy reading her story! 


About Tracy:
I am a web developer working for in Australia. I came to developing late after having worked in the public service for Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as working in web marketing and analytics in Shanghai and Sydney. After doing coding as a hobby for a few years, I quit my job and became a full-time junior developer.


Name: Tracy Mu Sung
Job: Web Developer
Favorite website, app or gadget: Just visited San Francisco and am now obsessed with the ease and convenience of the Uber app.


What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I came to IT late, in my early 30’s. I went to an all girls school and pursued maths and sciences, but was never encouraged to try IT, and was told not to study science at university as there were no jobs. At uni I studied a double degree in chemistry and economics. I then had a few different career paths that took me to living in Canberra, London, Shanghai and Sydney. It was only after all that, that I started doing coding as a hobby at the ripe age of 31. Then I got involved in the Ruby community in Sydney, and did a night course at General Assembly. When I was sure that coding was for me, I quit my job and got a job as a junior programmer.


What does your working day look like?
I work as a developer with a business where I am allowed to work remotely. We usually start with a standup, and then I look at the tickets assigned to me in Trello. I use Slack to communicate with my team and ask questions, then attempt to make the fixes or build the features necessary. I submit pull requests on Github where I get a lot of good feedback.


What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I worked on this open source project, which helps increase transparency of how our politicians vote on our behalf. I love the concept of using my skills to help projects that add social value, and hope to do more in the future.


Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
There are a lot of developers in the Sydney Ruby community who inspire me because of how smart they are, combined with being amazingly humble and helpful. I have worked in a number of other fields, and I know this is not always the case. Many other professionals hoard their knowledge, or are competitive with others and don’t want to help them. The opposite is true in the Ruby community.


Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I finally feel like I am working in a field that uses my talent for problem solving and logic, so I enjoy my day-to-day work. I also like that working in tech you can work flexibly and remotely, and that there are constantly new opportunities to learn.


Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I don’t have a degree in IT, and so I am sure there is some important knowledge I am missing – however, I don’t think there is anything I can’t learn from programmers I know, or online resources. In fact I did a Computer Science 101 online course with Udacity with a group of other non-programmers when I was first starting out.


What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Start doing it in your spare time – there are so many free online resources. In fact I have a huge list of them here. Also, languages like Ruby and Node JS have friendly communities, try and go to local meetups and meet the people, even though it can be wildly intimidating to go to your first one. Keep your eye out for IT workshops for beginners, there are often free ones going on like Rails Girls.


I don’t really think people can make big mistakes –  life is long, most things are fixable, and you rarely have an experience (especially negative ones) that you don’t learn from.


Extra question from Mazz: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in your career?
Many people would probably say my mistake was not getting into coding sooner – in my 30s this is pretty late to find a career I love. However, from comments from my managers and the experience I had in a recent hackathon, I would say that my other jobs before now have given me skills that I might not have had if I had gone straight into coding. I don’t really think people can make big mistakes –  life is long, most things are fixable, and you rarely have an experience (especially negative ones) that you don’t learn from.


Thank you Tracy!