Sonoma’s VSCO girl: Stephanie Angulo

The term “VSCO girl” has gained traction lately, referring to a stereotype depicting a young female posting “trendy” pictures via the photo editing app VSCO.

But when Sonoma Valley High School grad Stephanie Angulo thinks of VSCO, her thoughts go to her workplace in Oakland where she serves as a software engineer.

“Our team at VSCO focuses on growing the user base and making sure that whatever’s involved is working efficiently and correctly, and a good experience for users,” Angulo said.

Angulo always had a passion for photography, but she didn’t want to entirely turn that interest into a career. Working for a photo editing app became the best of both worlds for her.

“I didn’t want to monetize the hobby that I have,” she said. “VSCO was a way for me to continue with my interest in photography.”

Angulo’s daily work life varies. Some days she’s in meetings all day and other days she’s coding away at her desk.

“We’re focusing on a few major features and we’re just really trying to get it out within the next couple months,” she said. “I think most IOS engineers are really focused on those features and helping where we can.”

And when it comes to the “VSCO girl” trend, she doesn’t support any derogatory connotation the term might have.

“I don’t like how ‘VSCO girl’ is almost seen as a negative term for girls who might dress a certain way... They shouldn’t be bogged down for what they wear and how they act,” she said. “At VSCO, we express ‘VSCO girl’ as a positive thing.”

Angulo’s position at VSCO is her first job after graduating from Occidental College this past June. Before graduation, Angulo thought about the type of job she wanted fresh out of college.

“I decided to go to a smaller company,” she said. “I had been at relatively large companies and I just thought I would start off my career [where] I can make the most impact.”

She knew even before college that it was the career she wanted.

Growing up, Angulo loved playing on her father’s PC, and she was always talented when it came to math, so when teachers encouraged her to take AP computer science at Sonoma Valley High School, she was intrigued.

“It was a whole different world… It was essentially like writing,” she said. “You are writing, but you’re just writing things that relate or translate to something the computer can understand… It boggled me how a line of code could do something for a computer.”

Angulo majored in computer science and had multiple internships with Google, Facebook, NASA and Twitter during her college years. She says her success doesn’t stem solely from herself.

“I was fortunate enough to have really supportive parents where they really wanted me to get an education,” she said. “I’m a first-generation college student and they migrated to the United States, so I’m just fortunate that I had their support and I had so much scholarship help.”

Having entered a field of work that isn’t entirely diverse, Angulo is grateful for the mentors and experiences she’s had in her life.

“I feel like that really put me ahead in terms of (my) career,” she said. “It was an advantage to me being a woman in STEM and a Latina in STEM, so I’m really thankful for that.”

Angulo says she didn’t even see herself as a minority within STEM until she went to college.

“My AP computer science teacher was a female so I was like, ‘yeah, this is normal,’” she said. “Then in college, I did start to realize why this is so difficult for people like me with my background to get into this field.”

Overall, she says she has never felt the “toxicity” that she could see happening at other schools or companies. At VSCO, Angulo’s coworkers come from unique educations and experiences.

“It’s really inspiring to see these people with different backgrounds and to learn from them,” she said.

When Angulo looks to the future, she said she sees herself staying at VSCO for a while, although she does hope to become a manager someday. Upon learning that Sonoma Valley High recently took away the AP computer science course she took, Angulo said she would also love to create a summer program for students interested in app development.

But in the end, she’s just happy to be learning and growing while doing what she loves.

“Right now, I’m just really focused on getting as much experience as I can – and ideally having some expertise in IOS development,” she said.

For any students pursuing a similar career path, Angulo encourages them to be determined and to take every opportunity they can.

“I definitely think that people should not be scared of just applying because you never know until you apply,” she said. “Apply to 50 internships and you might get rejected by 49, but it only matters if you get one. It’s just good to have any experience under your belt because it shows initiative. It shows that you’re actually willing to learn something.”

This advice has carried Angulo to where she is today, and she’s eager to see what’s next.

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