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My Journey in the Tech World as a Female

rsantos profile image Renita Santos ・3 min read

My Story/How I Got Here...

I was young, freshly divorced. Emergency surgery and cancer caused me to lose my baby before it was born. Shortly thereafter, my marriage dissolved. Although I was born and raised in Boston, MA, I decided to move to a warmer climate. At the time, I worked for the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). I decided I needed a change. The IRS offered job transfers and one of the cities was Atlanta, Georgia; tempted by the warmth of the South, I took it! Twelve years later, buying a house but struggling financially, my best friend challenged me to stop complaining and go back to school. I did.

Eight years later, I was armed with a degree in Civil Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University, all while working full time. Yes, I took an unconventional route and yes, there were only a handful of women doing the same thing. I had a rewarding career in the industry and then – the economy crashed; I was devastated. Being the resilient, strong woman I am, I took a job in my doctor’s office and I went back to school and received an Associate’s Degree in Network Administration from DeVry University. Here again, I was surrounded in a field dominated by men. It was on this path, that I found my way to Vonage Business.

Each time in my life when things got tough, I leaned into the experience, making the most of it. Once, I went on vacation to Frankfurt, Germany and ended up staying a year. I love photography and taking pictures of unique settings. During one of my lulls in employment, I became a professional photographer owning my own studio. I have never let any circumstance consume me.

The Biggest Challenge I Faced Was...

My greatest challenge currently is the fact that my pay does not reflect my years of experience, expertise and knowledge. I bring 100% of my expertise to the table every day; somehow, the work of females is diminished financially as it relates to that of men. Even in the midst of losing a job and going back to school, I have been blessed to find work. Although the pay in most cases was much less than what I had become accustomed to, I never presented less than what I was capable of giving or performing. Case in point, customers or their IT persons have tried to dismiss my technical support, but when a male tech got on the line and told them the same thing, the scenario changed. The male tech fixed their issues, using the same techniques, and it was accepted with no challenge at all. Honestly, I felt as if I was treated less than simply because I was a woman. I do realize that not all men are like this. I have had the privilege of working with and for superb men who respected me as a woman and as an engineer/IT tech.

The Most Rewarding Thing This Year...

During my tenure at Vonage Business, I have had excellent managers/supervisors and that alone has been most rewarding. My current manager, Mr. Adekunle Sanni, is both respectful and supportive. He makes a concentrated effort to suggest and offer training that will prepare me for the next level. Also, I work with a predominantly all-male team, they epitomize respect and team work. Working with them has made this a rewarding experience.

My Message for Others...

My sincere message to other women is to tap into the richness of their inner beings. My dream job is to help other women, especially younger ladies, to tap into their inner strength. I would encourage them to first and foremost, be respectful of their opportunities, apply themselves diligently to honing their skills and above all, be respectful of themselves.

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Renita Santos

@rsantos

I have a high interest in the technical arena!

Discussion

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Thank you for sharing your story. It's so honest and inspiring. As a woman in tech, I love hearing and sharing stories like this because we can find relatable experiences and know that we will overcome them.