I was more interested in playing with AutoCAD than with all the other courses I was taking as a Mechanical Engineering major. I've always been skilled with science-y things, yet also with art-y things.
Fast forward though a short detour as a double Physics/Math major (yeah, that happened) and a short break to regroup, I settled onto creating a custom major.
At the time, interactive design and development wasn't even an offering at colleges because the field -- and the tech -- was still in the nascent phase. Thankfully, UMass Amherst offered the Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration program that allowed me to select relevant courses to succeed in an emerging industry and forge my own path as a Multimedia Developer!
Back when I was a new grad, Photoshop, Premiere, SoundEdit, Director and eventually Flash were the way to make interactive products. It sure was interesting figuring out how to 'coax' software to produce the deliverables we needed. Oh, was there coaxing to make text antialias! And all that batch processing with DeBabelizer. And... maybe some creative language usage to make things work on Mac -- as well as on that brand spankin' new Windows95 OS.
Thankfully, the tools constantly evolve, as do your skillset and knowledge base. I gotta say, it's been pretty cool to work in an industry where you can use your creative and your problem-solving skills to make cool stuff.
Making apps accessible, functional, and beautiful. All at the same time. Lately in React. And I love puttering around in Greensock JS!
There are so many industries where you can shine in tech. Here are a few industries I've worked in: interactive agency, airline manufacturers, software product, higher ed. All of them have interesting challenges and deliverables. Fun things for small and insanely large screens. Proprietary tech and Open Source Software!
Many of the rad individuals in the tech community. They make it great to work in this constantly-evolving field. Here's a very short list:
- Marcy Sutton
- Jen Simmons
- Amal Hussein
- Tracy Lee
- Sophie Alpert
- Mina Markham
- Sara Soueidan
- Rachel Andrew
- Sarah Drasner
- Get serious about tech inclusion, there are many people that don't look like you that'd be a great addition to your team.
- If your network isn't representative of a diverse demographic, expand that network. I guarantee women and non-binary folks have that type of network, leverage their knowledge and recommendations.
- Learn about unconscious bias, do your best to be aware when it's happening, and speak up when it does.
- Sponsor, don't just mentor. Help them move up in their career.
Stick with it! There are days when you'll want to throw your laptop out the window when you can't solve that one pesky bug. Persist. You'll solve it. Embrace the growth mindset, and the firehose of information that tends to follow.
Find the industry that excites you, and a team that welcomes you. Pursue the career path that keeps you satisfied. Don't allow yourself to get pigeonholed.