I have heard from many women that it has been interesting to hear how someone has started their career in tech. Especially if it was not the first choice, like in my case, so it can be inspirational to hear how someone has found their path towards tech.
So this is the story of how I became a software developer (with the interest towards emerging tech)!
I have loved computers and video games for as long as I remember. But at least as long I have also been hearing how girls are not supposed to be interested in that so it never actually occurred to me that I could be a software developer in the future.
I was around 11 or 12 years old when I first realised I can actually see the code that is used to make websites. We had had internet connection for maybe a couple years at that time and I remember my friend from school was showing me how and it was super cool.
Quite soon after that I created my first website on some random free domain where I copy pasted code from different websites and tried to figure out what everything did. I loved that but I still didn't really see it as a possible career, I was still a child and didn't think about stuff like that.
Later in high school I took every IT course I was able to and still when it was time to choose what I wanted my career to be, I decided I wanted to be an artist and moved to Helsinki to study photography.
Can you see a pattern here? I can. All my life I had been hearing how weird I am for liking technology and even at school no one was encouraging me to pursue a career in tech even though I took all the programming courses I could find and I was good at it.
To be fair, I got my first digital camera when I was 14 so photographing had also been a dear hobby of mine for many years and I even attended an art school once a week where I was developing film pictures. So deciding to become a photographer was a logical choice for me but I have thought many times how easily I could have chosen otherwise and went straight to tech.
However, I'm pretty sure I didn't do that because it honestly never came to my mind that I could actually be a software developer. And I'm pretty sure that didn't happen because girls were (at least I was back then) suggested that maybe I could study more languages or literature (neither were in any way interesting to me) or art rather than doing anything mathematical or technical.
Anyway, I started to study photography and eventually did my internship as an image editor and I also got a job doing that right after graduation. I was good at what I did, but I still felt something was missing. That this is not what I really want to do. That this would be a better hobby than a "real" career and I did not really see myself progressing in my career doing what I did.
Luckily I found out there was a new Bachelor of Engineering degree starting with Game Applications as a major! I decided to apply and I got in! I was so excited to learn about how to make video games, which had been such an important part of my life!
The courses were quite difficult and there was a lot to learn but I managed to catch up! I was really motivated and loved learning all that, even if it was tiring!
Couple years earlier there were first Virtual Reality software development kits starting to become available. I was able to try a rollercoaster demo in one event and it was such an impressive experience! I remember I was so immersed that I was afraid to move even though I knew that wasn't real. It really blew my mind. So during my second year of studies I heard that there was an internship opportunity about Virtual Reality and decided to apply even though I knew nothing about the subject.
For my surprise I got the internship! I was able to work part time along my studies and it was a dream come true learning how VR worked! They even offered me a summer job to continue doing research, but this time about Augmented Reality. After that I didn't really have any issues finding a new job. At that time AR and VR were a hot topic and many companies were researching it, so they were thrilled to find anyone with any experience about that.
Just before I graduated I was contacted in Linkedin and asked if I would be interested to hear about Futurice. They were creating a XR team to work on AR/VR relating projects for their clients. And two weeks after my graduation I started as a consultant at Futurice and after 3 years I'm still there!
During my time at Futurice I have been able to broaden my knowledge of different tech stacks and started working on native Android and Emerging Technologies, such as Voice and Face Recognition, Machine Learning and IoT.
I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do when "I grow up" but at least I have learned that I enjoy researching new things and I'm also interested in doing a dive in the "deep end" of programming.
I also want to be visible as a software developer and attend events and give talks because I want to make it even a bit easier for other women to start working in tech! If I can inspire even one person, then I think my work has been successful.