someone decided I was worth hiring. I was shocked.
I realised halfway through university that I'd chosen the wrong major, mixed with a lot of personal issues, I barely graduated and wasn't interested in any of the careers a degree in Sound Technology set my up for. But my courses did help me realise I was more interested in engineering than arts; so I spent the productive moments of my final year applying for all sorts of engineering/tech based graduate programs.
I didn't get accepted anywhere. I got one interview, with a major consultancy, where the interviewer ignored my presentation and laughed at how much I reminded him of his daughter. I gave up on trying break into tech, and focused on getting any job I could.
I was applying for PA jobs, call centre jobs, anything that didn't require a specific degree. I plastered my CV on job sites. Months went by and I could barely get an interview. Then - out of nowhere - I got a phone call from a graduate IT recruiter who offered to train me to be a developer and place me with their clients to get experience.
Suddenly I had a job, in an industry that excited me, that I hadn't even thought to apply for!
My first dev role surrounded me with people who took me from rudimentary SQL/UNIX/HTML knowledge and taught me the frameworks and languages I needed to know to succeed in our organization. They set me on a path of confidence, and encouraged me to voice my opinion.
They also introduced me to Go, which is when I really fell in love with programming. Suddenly things came more naturally to me, I could think about design decisions rather than semantics and my confidence started to grow even more.
standing up for myself and taking control of my own career.
1) Within my first two years I was mentoring other graduates, standing in as a senior dev when our team didn't have one and was requested to work on other teams when they needed support. I also had several run-ins with my manager - who told me I needed to adjust my attitude, that I was being too 'negative', that I was getting ahead of myself, that I wasn't ready for the promotions I was applying for.
So I raised complaints against him, and looked for new jobs. I knew my worth and got myself out.
2) My next job placed me in a team working on a legacy Java app, completely out of my comfort zone, but I made myself useful enough in a crisis that the client created a new Operations team and asked me to lead it.
I worked with each of the 3 teams across the platform to develop standards for logging across our micro-services, worked with architects to forward all the logs and metrics for the platform into an aggregator, implemented the first alerts for the platform and wrote standards to guide each team in creating more.
This is not so much me taking control, as a thank you to the women running the team for realising my potential and moving me to an environment I could thrive rather than giving up on me.
3) An opportunity came up for me to consult on a government project working with technology I love, with people who inspire and encourage me. My company decided it was too much of a stretch; we wouldn't have enough people to build a team so it wasn't worth the time applying for the project. I disagreed and took on the application myself. I wrote, presented and won the contract - and recruited a team of 10 people to work closely with the in house team to deliver the project together.
I went from no experience with this kind of government procurement, to building and winning a bid for a major contract. I also listed myself as a Tech Lead - and grew in to this role over the course of the contract.
4) Now people keep telling me that I've achieved so much in such a short time - I must be on a fast track for management. Every time someone tells me they know my next career step I have a very simple response:
"I have earned the right to decide for myself. If I want to stay where I am, that's up to me. I'm stubborn enough, and confident enough, not to be pushed in to anything."
my obsession with not appearing unprofessional.
Running a team for the first time I've had to hire and fire people - and every step of the way I have been consumed with fear that I'd somehow do something wrong. That I'd ask the wrong interview questions, that I'd open myself up for legal trouble by letting someone go.
I've also been pushed to my personal limits and had to speak up for what I can and can't cope with in my working environment - which involved a lot of tears, soul searching and dealing with previous trauma.
I realised that the people I've had all these difficult, frightening conversations with respected me just as much afterwards. I was still able to do my job just as effectively. So maybe I don't need to worry so much about the right and wrong way, and accept that everyone else is making it up just as much as me.
community organisers who manage to be active and positive without completely burning out! Anyone who finds the time to mentor, offer guidance or coordinate speakers for meetups on top of a day job really blows my mind.
when you see someone alone at a meetup, go and introduce yourself. Offer something about yourself to lessen the burden on the other individual. Try and avoid questions of 'what brings you here?' as that could be seen as 'you don't look like you belong here, prove me wrong'.
It can be very intimidating to walk in to a meetup where everyone seems to know each other, particularly when you're conscious that you're a minority. Allies quietly reaching out and bridging that gap can make the difference between someone feeling part of a community or not.