Passage to Silicon Valley- 007 Evelyn Parenteau

Do you know how to pronounce Parenteau? Evelyn explains how to pronounce her last name. If you want to know how to pronounce her name correctly, listen to this episode. Her last name was popular in France (not sure about the current status). If you know French, maybe you already got it right. 

Evelyn is a full stack engineer. She works on the front end, back end, embedded, Linux kernel, drivers, CPU design, and board design. Basically she can work from the front end to the parts reaching the manufacturing materials.

Evelyn speaks highly of the computer systems engineering major she took in college. She learned electricity, circuit, transistor, and also computer science fundamental, different languages, and software engineering practices. She feels that she got the best parts from electrical engineering and computer science training.

If you’re wondering, Evelyn’s home state is Nevada, but she grew up in Arizona. She can’t really recommend the living environment in Arizona. However, there are still two things she likes about it. One is rent (very affordable compared to the Bay area), and the other is traffic. The roads in Arizona are so well designed and wide enough to handle all the rush hour traffic.

The reason she decided to come to California:
Evelyn interned at Intel for a year near her school at Arizona State. She got a return offer after she finished her internship. The surprising part is her team was based in the Bay area and thus she needed to move here. It’s pretty amazing to have a job offer from a world famous company. It’s pretty hard to say no (I believe) and thus she moved here. 

Evelyn tells us about the working life at Intel. Intel uses waterfall model because they need it for the manufacturing process. It would cost them millions of dollars if they iterated changes often. The software department at Intel also uses the waterfall model to follow the rest of the company. At Intel, Evelyn travelled a lot (roughly once every two months) to meet with teammates in different offices to solve technical problems. Travelling lost its novelty after a few times.

There was a pivotal moment in Evelyn’s college career that caused her to change her life course. She was in the military ROTC program, in which she needed to take military classes and physical trainings.

She was guaranteed an elevated rank in the military once she graduated. She was in the trial semester, but she didn’t continue since she couldn’t get the monthly stipend that were using to incentivize “computer science” majors. On the other hand, she’s glad she was unable to join, because if she did she would still be in the military now and maybe be living in a cave somewhere.

Her hobby is playing video games. Her favorite game is World of Warcraft. She probably won’t watch the World of Warcraft movie for a while because she doesn’t want to be disappointed.

We talked about women in tech. Evelyn uses her experience at Intel as an example. Intel has a pretty high women ratio (probably about 50% company-wise, and 25% in the software department). She noticed that many of the women at Intel are immigrants, which leads her to believe that we the United States might have a cultural problem discouraging women from pursuing STEM as a whole. Lots of women seem to have imposter syndrome compared to male engineers. She talked about how her smart female friend reacted when she encouraged her to apply for an internship at SolarCity. To evelyn, it’s not that women believe they are “actually” inferior to males, but rather they are afraid to “appear” inferior. They are afraid of reinforcing the negative stereotype if they try and then fail. Women feel more pressure to succeed because they are a minority in the tech community. We talked about how we can help the situation, but it’s a really big topic to be solved by just a small number of people. Ideally, we should have a more friendly culture to encourage women in pursuing STEM majors and applying for jobs in the industry.

She recommends using Linux for operating systems. She has a gaming desktop as well as several other laptops running on Linux. She knows Linux in great depth and how to debug an issue. If you want to understand how your system works, Linux is the only one to go to (other systems would just hide the details from you).

Evelyn recommends improving coding efficiency by not using IDEs. She uses Sublime Text for all her coding in Python, C, C++. She does all her tasks like linter, git commands, build applications, etc in the command line. The IDEs are just like windows and mac that would hide all the important details for you. She wants to know what’s going on and encourages you to do so.

She has a personal site at and hopefully it will be online soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *