How I became a girl in the tech industry?
Okay, I get questions about this a LOT. Anything from, “What made you decide to pursue software development as a career?” to, “No offense, but how did you even get into this field?” Often times when other girls find out what I do, their reaction is something along the lines of, “Omg, so you’re like… really smart.” No. I mean yes, but that doesn’t mean girls who aren’t in tech are not just as smart.
The questions don’t bother me. I understand it is still somewhat rare for females to be in the tech industry, so I understand when I walk into an interview and get the feeling I’m not the type of “girl” they were expecting to interview.
I understand many people are surprised to find out my profession. And maybe when you think of what type of person a female software developer is, I’m not who comes to mind. The amount of women in the tech industry is growing rapidly. The amount of EMPHASIS on getting more girls in the tech industry is growing even more.
But I feel that many girls are still afraid of this industry, thinking they aren’t smart enough, think it would be too hard, etc. Maybe some have been thinking about getting into tech, but have no idea where to start. Or maybe some don’t even know what jobs in the tech industry are an option. I’m here to change that.
How did I even decide that being a girl in tech is what I wanted to do?
Well, my mom is a software developer, so I definitely had a huge advantage. Choosing a career is always easier when someone you know does it. They are living proof it’s possible and you have more confidence you will be able to achieve it. But it still took me a long time to figure out that being in tech is what I wanted to do. My mom had been telling me for years that I should get into software development. She knew I had the right kind of brain for it, and that I would enjoy it. I had a hard time finding a major that I really enjoyed and changed my major many times in college – 9 to be exact – before I took my first computer science class and fell in love with it.
Once I decided I wanted to be a girl in tech, the next thing I had to do was get a Computer Science degree.
I chose to to go a tech school and get an Associate of Applied Science degree rather than a Bachelor’s degree for a few reasons:
- I already had 2 years of generals done from previous universities I attended, which I turned into a Liberal Arts AA degree.
- The programs at the tech schools/community colleges near me were much more hands on than the program at the university I was attending. The majority of the curriculum contained programming classes at the tech school, rather than more generals and math classes with less programming classes at the university.
- Funds… after going to universities for a couple of years, my funds for college were running dry and unless I wanted to dig myself in a deeper hole with student loans, I needed to take a cheaper route.
School was not easy. My first semester, I was the only girl in all of my classes (besides a web development class, which had one other girl) and by the end of the semester, over half of all the students dropped out. The first semester is tough. Really, all of it is tough. But I was determined to finish school and become a software developer, so I knew I had to push through.
I worked like crazy. I studied like crazy. And I definitely had to cut some stuff out of my life for a few semesters — that being friends and free time for the most part. There were many days where I worked at my job all day only to come home and work on homework until midnight. Luckily, I had my mom to go to for support, and she constantly reminded me that all of this hard work would be sooo worth it.
She was right, it was worth it.
A month before I graduated with my degree, I was offered and accepted my first Software Developer position, and the rest is history. I absolutely love what I do. It challenges me every single day and I get to learn new things constantly. Seeing your code come to life and being part of a software development team is rewarding and so much fun.
As for being a girl in tech, I love it.
I don’t look at myself as a minority, and I don’t get treated as one. I can’t speak for everyone or every company, but the companies I have worked for have been great and I have not felt like I am treated any different.
Being a girl in tech doesn’t have to be ANY different than being a guy in tech. It is what you make it.
If you are a girl and have been thinking about joining the tech industry, here is my advice for you:
- Look at the curriculum carefully before choosing a school. Make sure the programming languages they offer are relevant, and the curriculum is programming heavy. This will best prepare you for a job.
- Once you are in the program at school – DO NOT DROP OUT. It will be difficult. Unless you are a mega-genius. It gets better and it is worth it. I promise. If you really don’t like it and decide it’s not for you, that’s one thing. But please, do not drop out if it gets too hard. I can almost guarantee everyone else in the class is probably thinking the same thing.
- Hold your head high and be the boss babe you are. If you expect people to treat you differently, chances are they probably will. Being a girl in tech is so fun and rewarding, focus on that instead of what other people think of you.
- Look for other women in tech you can turn to for advice. If you don’t know anyone, reach out to me!
Are you a girl in the tech industry? Share your story in the comments below!