Youmna Rabie and Xizi Yang are some of the newest software engineers to join PEAK6 Capital Management. They completed PEAK6 ‘ Technology Experience for Women internship in 2019, the summer after each completed their junior year of college studying computer science–Youmna at University of California, Berkeley with a double major in economics and computer science, and Xizi at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Here ‘s what Youmna and Xizi shared about their first real jobs, joining an organization with a woman at the helm, and their shared love for Animal Crossing (Both of their respective Zoom call backgrounds at the time of the writing of this piece during Chicago ‘s stay-at-home order were of their Animal Crossing avatars hanging out together virtually, despite the lockdown).
Youmna: As software engineers on the trading tools team, we build apps on top of a trading platform, so that our traders can use them. We fix things; we build things; we add things; we deprecate things. We get to touch every single part of the tech stack, and get very familiar with all the technologies PEAK6 uses.
Xizi: As interns, we were part of the trading tools team, which builds tools and analytics for traders, so traders can ultimately build the tools they need themselves. At the completion of our internship, we did a final presentation for the tech team and senior leaders at PEAK6 about the project we ‘d been working on–stlatlas. Our project combined a platform for collecting stats and reviewing the pipeline, with a new tool we built to visualize the data.
Youmna: Our app was designed to help app creators learn more about users ‘ habits with regard to their apps through data. It is still a functional app for the organization.
Xizi: I played lots of video games while I was growing up. Early on, it was Minecraft and my friends and I would try to figure out how the game worked by looking into the Java code. That was my first time trying to read code. I got into computer science my sophomore year of college, and found I was better at it than my earlier major, Asian studies.
Youmna: I switched majors five times before I got to computer science and economics. I thought it would be useful to take an intro course in computer science and data science. We learned Python as well as basic statistics. It wasn ‘t that I was good at it, but I really liked it, and I continued taking computer science courses.
Going from intern to full-timer:
Youmna: When I got my offer from PEAK6, I got a call from Jenny Just, our CEO. That was unique. She actually knew who we were! She told me she liked our presentation and had faith we ‘re going to do amazing things. She seemed to believe in us. It was very motivational. It made me cry.
Xizi: I graduated early so I started in February. Everyone here is so helpful and nice that it has been great.
Proud tech moment:
Xizi: In college, I got a chance to participate in a hackathon project. All computer science exams had been on paper, with handwritten code. We tried to move that into the computer lab so people could use the computer to write code and get a score based on their code. It was really interesting to be involved in that.
Youmna: I became involved during college with a student-led organization focused on teaching incarcerated women data science skills to help prepare them for career reentry. I joined the team as stats and textbook writer. I really believe in the mission though I couldn ‘t stay involved. They ‘re still using the textbook that I wrote.
Being at a woman-led company:
Youmna: Jenny commands a certain kind of respect. Everyone throughout the organization knows that she ‘s smart, talented and a force to be reckoned with. All women are like that, but Jenny being CEO makes that plain for everyone to see. It empowers me to be willing to speak my mind and advocate for changes that I think will be advantageous.
Xizi: Having a women-only only internship program represents how much Jenny cares and how much PEAK6 cares about increasing the representation of women in technology and finance.
When I ‘m not working:
Xizi: I play a lot of video games–Animal Crossing especially helps me stay connected during this time. I also like to eat, bake and cook.
Youmna: I play Animal Crossing. It ‘s a game where you do chores and have a mortgage. You ‘re allowed to go outside, which I think it the value of it at this moment. My longest-standing hobby is baking. My mom is a cake decorator so I grew up with it. I embroider and like to read. I have a website for my online portfolio, with a section devoted to my pet rabbit, Java.
Best part of the job:
Youmna: The people. It ‘s generic but true. I don ‘t actually like Chicago. I like beaches and mountains and sun — I ‘m a California girl through and through. But the people make it worthwhile.
Xizi: The people at PEAK6 are so nice and so approachable. They are always willing to help with anything.