How to Get Into Tech! - Girl Develop It Indy Panel

Incredible panel included:

Check them out on Twitter! And search #gdiIndy for more event pics.

Credit M.T. Ray - Featured in order is Angie, Kristen, Caitlyn and Casey

We need more women in tech roles

I don’t know about you, but sitting in front of 4 women speak about their experiences and advice on how they got into tech is my cup of tea. Being able to relate to a panelist is super motivating and makes me think “I can do that too!”.

Also, as we know women are being massively underrepresented in the tech industry and we have got to change that. Girl Develop It is a key player working to make an impact by teaching women how to code. In addition, there are lots of strong and motivated women all around the world working contributing - I’m hopeful.

Girl Develop It Indy hosted an amazing panel on February 23rd, 2018 with 4 women that are rockin’ it in the Indianapolis tech space. Their roles ranged from engineers to VP’s and even a Co-founder of a local eCommerce company.

Each of their journeys into tech was unique and some may say unconventional. They each carved their own personal path to enter tech - showing us that having a traditional Computer Science background isn’t the only way in. With that said, don’t be afraid to clear your own path as you kickstart your journey into tech.

These are some key take aways with quotes from the panelists:

Kristen Hamerstadt: VP of Marketing at SmarterHQ

  • Take risks. For most of her career Kristen has just closed her eyes and jumped. She started as a receptionist at Exact Target and now is a VP at SmarterHQ.

  • Try and move laterally within your company, experiment with different roles and teams. If you do this at least once a year, you’ll eventually be able to have enough experience to move up within the company.

  • “Apply to jobs even if you don’t exactly meet the role description.”* Recruiters know it’s hard to find a perfect match on paper. Once you land that interview, sell your willingness to learn.

Angie Stocklin COO of OneClick Ventures

  • Angie has a psychology background, started as school psychologist and then co-founded OneClick Ventures with her husband. I freaked when she said she had a psych background, as a psych major I don’t come across many other women in tech with that background.

  • Having a psychology background has helped her tons in practicing user empathy when building features at OneClick. This applies for any position, think about that end user. Create a product that is multi-faceted and accessible.

  • “Place trust in your team.” It’s okay to let go and let your team take the reign.

Casey Cumbow: Software Engineer at Lessonly

  • Casey was a middle school teacher then she went on to complete DevBootcamp in Chicago and continued learning and teaching thereafter. She now develops features at Lessonly, a company that offers a software training solutions for teams.

  • It’s okay to ask questions! Alot of time engineers don’t know what they’re doing most of the time, lots of Googling takes place.

  • “If you are building software for all types of people from all backgrounds, empathy for humans is really important in addition to coding skills.”

Caitlyn Tetmeyer: Angular / React Web Developer

  • Caitlyn has taken a number of GDI courses and attended ElevenFifty, a coding school, she recently landed her first developer position!

  • “Networking is like making new friends.” Caitlyn agreed that networking is scary, it takes practice and putting yourself out there. I totally agree, being an introvert networking is extremely out of my comfort zone but I have to push myself. You never know what connection you’ll make.

  • Once you do get into a tech role, remember to give back. Go to meetups, setup your own hack nights and volunteer.

Feeling inspired

After leaving the event I felt super inspired! I was nodding my head in agreement for most of the event because I had gone through a similar path. I did get my foot in the door by starting in a Customer Support role and then laterally moving. I did have to do alot of self-learning to show my skills to employers. It took time, long nights and a lot of hair pulling lol from frustration. But it’s incredible seeing events like this one, encouraging women that THEY can also enter the tech industry. No matter your age, background or experience there is still time.

The tech industry is only growing. In the next few years we’ll see AI and Machine Learning begin to develop and take its place in our world. By that time I want to see more diversity in the tech space. The time is NOW whether you’re just learning how to code or if you’re planning on learning,you can do it. There are communities of women just like you that will provide that support and that backup when you need it.

Getting involved with Girl Develop It

If you’re interested in finding a GDI chapter in your city, visit this link https://www.girldevelopit.com/chapters

Also - Happy 3 year anniversary to the GDI Indy chapter!!

Keep learning, networking and moving forward. If you’re looking to talk, find resources or seek advice on getting into tech, reach out to me on twitter @irmatable

Pictures and quotes grabbed with permission from Lindsay Siovaila - GDI Indys Founder and Chapter Leader.