Social media handle(s): LinkedIn
A few words about me:
I'm a Content Designer at dxw a UK-based, employee-owned digital agency.
I enjoy creating content and coaxing people's ideas out of their heads and onto the page.
I'm a fan of anything written by Samantha Irby, documentaries, stand-up comedy and butter.
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
Lots! My route to content design’s been pretty twisty turny. After my first degree, I wrote restaurant, TV, book and stand up comedy reviews. As well as being enjoyable, it taught me to write to a tight word count, edit ruthlessly and meet strict deadlines.
After I did my Masters (in Health Promotion), I worked as a Health Promotion Officer at a charity that supports people living with HIV and, as it sounds, I focused on supporting people who used our services to improve their health.
My next role was with a campaign focused on stopping the stigma of mental ill health. That involved supporting volunteers to give interviews to the national press about their experiences of mental ill health.
Then I worked as a Policy Manager in government before moving into content writing and, after that, content design.
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
Definitely non-STEM related! Neither of my degrees are in STEM subjects.
Where did your professional journey start?
Hmm. That’s tricky because I was never one of those people who always knew what they wanted to be, and used that desired end point as my North Star. Looking back, working for the social good and creating clear, concise and user-centred communication (even if I didn’t know that’s what it was back then) has been the thread running through my ‘career’.
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
Getting into tech was, initially, the result of really loving writing. And I took up opportunities that let me do as much of that as possible. I moved from a content writing role, which was, pretty much, all about broadcasting as opposed to meeting user needs, to roles where the users were at the centre. And they just happened to be roles in digital.
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
This doesn’t happen in my current role but, in some of the places I’ve worked, there was no understanding that content needed to be involved from the start of the process of building a product or creating a service. There was a ‘do all the important stuff, then just add the words!’ kind of attitude, so content designers were drafted in at the end after all the major decisions had been made. That was pretty frustrating and demoralising. One of my male tech colleagues even said that my job was to “make things fluffy.” That was not a good day.
"Getting into tech was, initially, the result of really loving writing. And I took up opportunities that let me do as much of that as possible."
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
It would’ve been great to know that (depending on where you work) tech isn’t just about tech bros and coding. Pop culture representations of tech have a lot to answer for. There are a wealth of different roles available that need different skillsets.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
I had several when I was at the Web Summit last year. Partly because it’s the biggest, most lavish and most overwhelming conference I’ve ever been to. But also because it was an eye-opening insight into the aggressively profit-driven world outside the tech for good bubble that I exist in.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
I like that I’m always learning new things and I get to work with a lot of smart, talented and supportive people.
I don’t like the fact that the wider tech sector’s record on all things DEI is beyond appalling. The lack of progress is wilful and embarrassing. There’s far too much DEI theatre, and fragility about power and structural advantage, and not enough outcomes-focused action.
"... tech isn’t just about tech bros and coding. Pop culture representations of tech have a lot to answer for. There are a wealth of different roles available that need different skillsets."
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
Once, many years ago, when I was trying to explain to a colleague that plain English is important because it’s inclusive and means more people are able to do what they need to, they said, ‘but if people don’t understand a word, they can just look it up in the dictionary.’ And somewhere, a content design fairy died. It was a good reminder that user needs are not everyone’s focus, and everyone’s starting point is different when it comes to user centred design.
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
That’s hard because a career in tech can mean so many different things. I’d say do your research read blogs, join Slack groups, follow folk on social media, do free online courses, speak to people who work in tech and, if you’re able (because not everyone is), do voluntary work to find out what you’re most interested in, what you’re not so keen on and what the potential challenges may be.