“Always go to the interview because you never know what will happen!”
How do you stay passionate in your career?
To stay passionate, I’m always looking for the next thing that excites me. Then once I set my mind on it, I figure out the steps and work really hard to achieve it. Finding ‘the next thing’ can be either professional or personal, but it really adds a spark in my life. Right now, I’m finding it easy to stay passionate at work, as I’m able to advocate for my coworkers by leading the Women in Tech initiative as part of my daily work. Typically when I have an impactful project or assignment at work where my position is integral, this ignites my spark.
Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?
You could say I did since I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in Information Science. Though, before college, many of the odds were against me. I often struggled in school especially in math classes.
The one thing that did come naturally was my ability to intuitively use and understand computers. I was able to quickly pickup new technologies and interfaces. I was always the go-to person in my house to troubleshoot any type of tech.
I didn’t really know that I wanted to study technology in university, but with my parents support and eye for my natural ability, I decided to try out some Information Science courses my first semester of Freshman year.
I took my first Intro to Programming course and really loved it! Even though, I was just creating simple websites, it became addictive and really fun. I was really proud of my ability.
I decided to stick with Information Science, even though not every class was interesting or easy. I was able to figure out my true interest in end-user tech and earned my concentration in User Centered Design. This enabled me to start my career working on a mobile app as a Systems Analyst.
Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?
I’m always looking for new, awesome apps to try. My favorites are Gmail for personal email, Outlook for work email, Mint for personal finances, Spotify for music and podcasts and Clue for tracking my period (it’s right every time!).
It’s common knowledge that women and femmes often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?
As a college senior, I applied mostly for software development roles not knowing exactly what jobs in tech I could get as entry-level. I ended up landing my first job in large company as part of a technology developmental program. I actually applied to enter the Software Development program, but the program’s HR instead offered me the Systems Analyst track. After joining the company I found that many people on the Software Development track had similar backgrounds, experiences and majors as me. It was curious since the Software Development track was 90% male and the Analyst track was about 50/50.
I didn’t necessarily do anything to change this situation, but I did give feedback and work to start a Women in Tech program at the company and try to change minds and biases. I was able to find my strengths in the track and quickly progressed past the program. I actually found a passion for project and product management. All’s well that ends well!
What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?
The Women in Tech I know tend to be great role models for each other and work hard to empower one another. This community is very welcoming for people of all backgrounds, skill levels and knowledge-bases.
If applicable, how have you given back to the WIT community?
I have been getting further involved in the Pittsburgh WIT community including mentorship opportunities.
Since I’m leading the Women in Tech initiative at American Eagle, much of my focus is going to building the community for the amazing women at my company. I’m excited to see what this year brings for us!
What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?
Explore everything, find a niche and never stop learning. It’s important to find something that will make going to work each day challenging, exciting and rewarding. Become an expert in something, learn something new and become an expert in that too. Rinse. Repeat.
It’s a great feeling to become a department’s go-to person for specific knowledge since you’ll feel indispensable.
Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.
NBD but I landed a dream job this year and the job didn’t even exist until I interviewed!
I interviewed for an Infrastructure Project Manager role and ended up getting a position I didn’t even know was possible as an Innovation Project Manager and Program Manager for Women in Tech at AE.
The lesson: always go to the interview because you never know what will happen.
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