We met Jill during her Microsoft internship last summer (gosh it’s been a while) - we were delighted that she’d taken the initiative to bring props to the shoot! Dona was (of course) instantly drawn to Jill because of her beautiful writing accessories.
Tell us a little about you.
I am a violinist-turned-engineer from New York. My first career was in music, and I played lots of concerts in my lifetime. I decided to study something new for fun 5 years ago, and it unexpectedly turned into my second career. Now I’m working on my PhD in Computer Science at Columbia University, where I study network security.
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
Computer Science has enabled me to travel to really fun places, and everything I’m wearing here is part of a collection of things that I obtained during my travels.
I bought the dress in a small shop I found in Florence, Italy. It was a special occasion for me because the man who made the dress was one of the first people I had a long conversation with in Italian during my trip. All of his clothing is designed and made by hand with Italian fabrics, one piece per design. It was really fascinating to hear about all of his ideas and inspirations for the styles. The dress I’m wearing is one of his modern designs.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
I grew up in a family of artists and was always taught to make my appearance and lifestyle as artistic as my work. I believe that it is important to be surrounded at all times by objects that promote inspiration and artistic thought.
This is why I include many unique objects, in addition to my clothing, as part of my style. I always write with a fountain pen (this one is from Torino, Italy) on paper that I’ve collected from various cities (this pad holder is from Gubbio, Italy with paper from Alsace, France).
The mug was hand painted in a small city called Deruta in Umbria, Italy, where I met many fine artisans who inspire me every day. My shoes are from Spain, and the earrings are from a jewelry maker that I admire very much in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
I would strongly encourage it. I would also suggest that you speak to as many professionals in the field as possible to find out about what they do. I think a big part of the reason why I didn’t pursue a STEM field as my first career was that I didn’t know what type of career it could lead to.
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
I can’t pick just one, but something that I feel happy with was a model of the LTE cellular network that I built for simulating attacks. I designed and implemented a scalable system of the network and ran some really cool large-scale attacks. I was proud of it because I built the whole thing myself and was pleased by the engineering and architecture of the final product.
Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?
Remember to take other people’s advice as input, but your ultimate decisions should truly be your own.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
I’m not overly active on social media, but you can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn.
It’s not every day you meet a violinist-turned-engineer, and we’re honored to have had the opportunity to interview such a fascinating young woman!
Have the best weekend you guys!
Dona & Beth