The A-Team: Jessa Laspesa
Meet an Asymmetrik Software Engineer
Jan 17, 2018
Software Engineer Jessa Laspesa joined The A-Team last year after graduating from Loyola’s Computer Science program. So far, this New York native and Division I sprinter has hit the ground running (pun intended). We’re glad to have her on our team!
Becoming a software engineer
Even though she’s a talented coder, software engineering wasn’t part of Jessa’s original plan. At first, she was planning to major in math, which she “absolutely loves”. However, a fateful Intro to Computer Science course during freshman year changed her trajectory. “To my surprise, I ended up enjoying it because of how much math was involved.”
Additionally, one of Jessa’s professors was a huge influence in steering her towards software. “She was a perfect example of a strong woman in tech. She encouraged me and would write notes on my exams like, ‘you should really think about becoming a Computer Science major'”.
As Jessa considered the idea, she decided to look into statistics about women in computing. What she discovered made up her mind. “Currently, only 18% of Computer and Information Science Bachelor’s degree recipients are female, which is pretty astonishing. So, I decided to contribute to increasing the number of women in tech.”
I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in technology
With a classmate, Jessa started a “Women in Tech” club. The group worked with young girls to help instill a passion for computing early on. “We wanted to show them firsthand that they’re capable of being successful in a male-dominated field. I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in technology.”
A Competitive Spirit
Not only is Jessa a great developer, she’s a gifted athlete too. When she’s not mentoring the next generation of engineers, she’s usually running. In college, Jessa ran Division I track as a sprinter for Loyola, where she held a couple of school records. She thrived on competing against strong teams like Navy, Boston University and Bucknell.
“Some of my favorite memories from college are of the 4×400 races at our conference championships. Did I mention that I love competition?”
Jessa credits track with getting her to where she is today. “If I hadn’t started running, I wouldn’t have gone to Loyola. If I hadn’t gone to Loyola, I wouldn’t have met the professor who led me to Computer Science. Because of this, I came to Baltimore, fell in love with this misunderstood city and decided to call it home.”
The important things in life
Jessa fits right in on The A-Team (she’s already co-hosted a pirate-themed happy hour for Talk Like a Pirate Day). She appreciates the way our culture emphasizes the important parts of life – fun, friends and family. “I’m encouraged to bring my family and friends to the office for happy hours and events. It doesn’t seem like a lot of companies allow that. Recently, I was talking to my cousin and she mentioned that she can’t bring her husband to her company’s happy hours. I couldn’t believe it! Here, employees can even bring their pets or children to work if they need to.”
Another thing Jessa enjoys about being on The A-Team is the ability to learn new skills. Recently, she discovered that she loves programming in Python, after picking it up on the job. She also loves that her work is “important and helping change the world.” Jessa recalls that programming in college usually focused much smaller problems. “While those projects helped me become a better programmer, they didn’t serve a larger purpose. Now, I’m excited and inspired to do work that truly has meaning.”