Social media handle(s): @shechatstech (Instagram)
A few words about me:
I'm a Graduate iOS Developer at mkodo and a tech career changer, creative soul and founder of a women in tech community!
Outside of work, writing brings me a ton of joy! You'll probably find me exploring art galleries and exhibits in my free time. I have a love for iced matcha lattes, collect way too many totes and love exploring culture through travel and food.
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
During the pandemic, I worked as a special educational needs teaching assistant and led the COVID-19 mass testing team to ensure the school was safe for re-opening. My role involved supporting students within the classroom ensuring that the content was tailored to their needs. As the lead for covid mass testing, I managed a team of staff and ensured the smooth running of processes which included monitoring stocks, supporting with the collection of testing data and creating a safe and secure environment for students and staff.
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
A hybrid - I started out with a non-STEM related educational background, but transitioned into tech so now I am in a STEM career.
Where did your professional journey start?
I studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Bristol and for most of my academic career I was interested in pursuing corporate law. My interest in law stemmed from wanting a career that could utilise my analytical and naturally curious mind - I was also interested in commercial affairs and how the law intersected with this.
In my third year of university which is also when the pandemic hit I felt like law wasn't the right career path for me to go down. When I moved back home, I explored the option of continuing with academia. As someone from a mixed race Venezuelan-British background, I had always been interested in my heritage and culture and decided to pursue a masters related to Latin America. I applied and got accepted to study a masters in Latin American studies at UCL which was a total dream as I had always loved the university.
Unfortunately, I had to interrupt my masters due to personal circumstances and it was during my free time that I explored tech and coding courses.
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
I had always been interested in tech, but I had never thought that a career in tech could be viable for me with my non-tech degree and background. Having exposure to a career in tech is what ultimately motivated me to explore the opportunities within the industry.
At the time that I was studying my masters my ex-boyfriend was a software engineer and it was through seeing what he did at work that I became increasingly more intrigued and interested in software development. I signed up for a Code First Girls Python & Apps course and this was the first time I had written a line of code. I remember feeling so empowered by the course especially being able to gain independence programming and seeing how I handled errors and reverse engineered to find solutions.
After this course I wanted to take it a step further so I applied to a 12-week technology bootcamp with Bright Network Technology Academy. This was an incredible experience to learn the fundamentals of computer science and collaborate with others to build three projects across the span of the bootcamp.
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
As a non-tech career changer, the biggest challenge I have faced has been in learning how to become more logical in my thought processes and not panicking if I see errors. Having studied Politics at university, I was used to writing essays and being assessed on how strong an opinion is. However, in tech it's a lot more black and white even though there can be lots of ways to find a solution. This has been one of the steepest learning curves for me sometimes I will know the logic in my head but struggle with actually getting it on the screen.
"Embrace the learning process - some days you might be flying through and other days you might have more blockers, but it's important to remember that even the most senior people within tech will have those days as well."
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
Having gone from a bootcamp into my role, the one thing I would say is going into the world of work has been a steep learning curve from understanding how teams operate and function and the role of developers within a professional context which I didn't fully appreciate before.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
Working on my graduate project and learning Swift from scratch and seeing how the app has developed over the duration of the project has been the biggest wow moment for me so far. I think also because it symbolises how far I have come in my own personal journey. Learning how to create functions, make API calls and hone in on my UI and design skills has been incredible especially because I am now transitioning into becoming a mobile engineer when my bootcamp was web development.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
I love the process of learning new things every day - I definitely feel like even in a small amount of time I have been able to understand the best practices for being a software engineer and see my own improvements over time which is pretty cool.
It's a really fast changing industry so it's exciting to never know how things might change our roles and the adaptations we might have to make - it's never a dull day. I would love for there to be more women in the industry, more generally and more career changers. This is something I am excited to see change over the years and look forward to seeing how the industry evolves.
A personal learning goal for me is to not take errors so personally. Sometimes I can get frustrated with myself when I get stuck or see bugs because I'm still learning so much and it can make me feel like I'm not learning quick enough.
"If you're coming in from a non-technical background never doubt your ability to transition into the industry. Your skills from previous careers will be so useful and I believe that the more diverse an industry and workforce is the better."
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
During my bootcamp, I remember when the instructors joked that we would end up having programming dreams. I thought they weren't serious and then one day I woke up having dreamt about what I was programming - I don't remember a lot but I could see semi-colons and colons floating around like the chess pieces in Queen's Gambit. It definitely stuck with me.
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
Embrace the learning process - some days you might be flying through and other days you might have more blockers, but it's important to remember that even the most senior people within tech will have those days as well.
I would say to find resources to help with your learning and to aid in your explorations of tech careers. I have found Medium, YouTube and Udemy to be really great for articles, videos and courses. It's a never-ending learning journey so the more you can do to aid in that process the better.
I would also say to explore your options as much as possible, connect with different people on LinkedIn and through events to find out about the industry so you can gain perspective and opinions that can help you on your way.
If you're coming in from a non-technical background never doubt your ability to transition into the industry. Your skills from previous careers will be so useful and I believe that the more diverse an industry and workforce is the better.
Finding community for me has been one of the best things - joining groups and connecting and sharing in your journeys can be so beneficial. I know when I was starting to apply to jobs and became more settled in my role it really helped to have people that I could turn to and have support from.