Adriana Beal

Adriana Beal

Product Manager
Square Root
Austin, TX, United States
Adriana Beal
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Adriana Beal is a native of Brazil living in the U.S. since 2004. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an MBA with emphasis on strategic management of information. Adriana is currently a product manager at Square Root, a software-as-a-service provider that helps large companies understand what's driving organizational performance, optimize daily operations, and align people's work with company's goals. At the beginning of her career, she worked as electrical engineer for 2 years in Brazil. Still in Brazil she developed a career helping companies IT, telecom, and financial industries improve their operational performance and achieve the expected outcomes from complex software projects. Adriana has two technical books published in Brazil, and work internationally published by IEEE and IGI Global.
MBA in Strategic Management of Information (FGV Management) B.Sc. Electrical Engineering
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Adriana Beal

Hi, Belle,

It's great that you're thinking ahead how to get a good start when you get to college. I'll divide my answer to your question in two parts:

"Is it ok to go into my major with no prior experience?"

Yes, it's perfectly fine to start a major in computer science / computer engineering with no prior experience in coding. Having said that... if you have a chance to jump start your learning before you get to college, I'd do that. I wouldn't worry about being behind your fellow classmates, but a bit of hands on experience with programming is going to help you connect the dots faster when you start learning about certain concepts in class. It will also help you relate more easily to those colleagues who, like you said, will already know how to code. Coding can be lots of fun,  and many people (like me) do it as a hobby.

"Should I try to take classes @ community college next summer?"

No, I don't think this would be necessary. Nowadays, you don't need to be in a college environment to learn, especially coding! In your place, I wouldn't wait for next summer either. You could start right now spending some time at (where you can start learning coding in seconds for free), or at another website that offers free training that you can fit on your schedule without the need for a huge investment of time.

Try creating an account with some of those websites offering free training, and find one that fits your learning style (the language you choose to study is not important either -- just pick something to get started). Even if you just allocate half an hour a week to practicing, you'll be grateful that you didn't wait until you're in a more formal education environment to start learning (and hopefully having fun) with coding.

Good luck!

Hi, Cleo! As with other professions, the routine of a computer engineer may vary a lot depending on the industry she's working on, whether she's doing research or product development, and so forth.  As an example, I'll share the routine from one of my past jobs. Every morning I'd go to the company I worked for, which had about 20 engineers working on different projects. I had a desk and a docking station for my work laptop in an office shared with another engineer. The docking station was used to connect my laptop to the company's wired network, a keyboard, and two larger monitors. In most days, I'd be working on a program to simulate the transmission of data across a network. I'd write the code and test to see if it was working as intended, then use the program to simulate having a message transmitted from one point of the network to another. I'd analyze the results to verify the performance and reliability of the network that was being simulated. I'd write reports to document the results of my simulation tests, so my colleagues could use these results to improve the quality of the network. From time to time, I'd meet with other engineers in the company to discuss other projects I'd be helping them with. 


Hi, Abhi,

The first step you already took: decide you want to do something big, and be willing to go the extra mile to get there :-).

At this early stage in your career, my advice would be to start exploring "small bets". Small bets are affordable and achievable ways to explore an idea without letting perfectionism, risk-aversion, or excessive planning get in the way.

You can begin by talking to professors, reading IEEE magazines, joining groups in LinkedIn on topics you find interesting, etc. Once you find a topic you like, start studying and looking for opportunities to practice what you learn (in a school or side project, volunteering for an organization, etc.). If it seems promising, you can continue on the same path; if not, you can just choose another topic to start studying and getting better at, until you find something that will be worth pursuing in the long run.

Remember that the skills that allows us to develop a successful career typically aren’t the most fun or easy to develop. If you can force yourself to work through the pain and get better at something that others value, the rewards are going to be huge. 

Good luck, and come back to tell us how you are doing!

Hi, Jo,

First, congratulations for thinking ahead about career choices! Many people fail to do that, and later regret not following the right educational path to get where they want to be in the future.

Second, let me reassure you that there are plenty of jobs that combine engineering and commerce. I even wrote an article published by the International Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEEE) that is about how to map business strategy to resource allocation in an e-commerce environment. If you can navigate both worlds, understanding the business and technical aspects of how companies operate, you will have many opportunities open for you--it's the combination of knowledge of both areas that led me to a successful career as an IT business analysis consultant.

I don't think you need to find a course that combines engineering and commerce to achieve your goal (I only studied Electrical Engineering and developed knowledge about business and commerce while working as a systems analyst). My suggestion would be for you to do some research to find an area in engineering that appeals to you, and go from there.

While studying engineering, be serious about finding relevant internship opportunities -- you should find good internship options that will allow you to learn about commerce from these experiences (yes, even if the internship is on the technical side). You can also get help from an adviser about what classes you could take to develop valuable skills in the area of commerce, but I wouldn't worry too much about this aspect. In my experience, a good engineering foundation will open many opportunities for you to get exposure to the business, and these things combined will make you a very attractive job candidate for the type of career you are envisioning.

Good luck, and write again if you have more questions!


Hi, Mirella, The requirements for working as an engineer in the U.S. with a foreign diploma will vary depending on the type of work you would be performing and for whom (for example, all 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public, and independent of licensure, a certification program may be required by an employer to demonstrate competency in specific fields of engineering.). My recommendation is that you talk to someone from an academic credential evaluation service such as Foreign Credentials Service of America or World Education Services. This type of institution is responsible for qualifying academic credentials awarded outside of the U.S. for various purposes, such as university enrollment, employment, professional certification or immigration processing. They would be able to help you understand the requirements that would apply to your case, and if necessary have your credentials evaluated so they can be recognized by licensing and certification boards in the U.S.