I’ve always dreamt of being an engineer. I’ve loved math and science my entire life. In high school, I didn’t play sports unless you count being captain of Mathletes. I was obsessed with puzzles. Numbers were my thing. One summer I attended an engineering camp at a university but quickly decided engineering was not for me. I was one of two girls at this program, which was scary. I went to an all-girls high school. I grew up with three sisters. I was used to being amongst women and being told I could accomplish anything. However, when it came down to it, being in a classroom full of men was beyond intimidating for my 15 year old self. I vividly remember going home after camp and googling “careers for women” because I was definitely not going to be an engineer.
Fast forward 8 years, and a dual bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business later, I was obsessed with the technology industry. After graduation, I joined this industry and pursued what I thought was my dream. I took roles as account manager, project manager, sales manager – things that “women could do” since they weren’t very technical. I never considered the possibility of becoming the man behind the screen building everything. I excelled in my career, but I never felt challenged, and I quickly became bored.
I was 25 when I fell in love with coding. I found this love by reading through 20+ books and watching YouTube tutorials. I became completely addicted and completely obsessed. Eventually I was spending all of my free time online, learning new languages and skills. This affected my social life. I’m a social person, so my friends were concerned when they never saw me on the weekends. I was pale from lack of sunlight. My eyes hurt from staring at screens. I couldn’t leave it alone though. There were so many unsolved puzzles. So many opportunities, but I didn’t tell anyone. Afterall, it was just a side project. There was no way I could actually work amongst those 30-40 year old white men in Silicon Valley.
One day I listened to a podcast on my way to work, went into my office and made a crazy decision: I quit my 9 to 5 job. It seemed like such a drastic and spontaneous decision, but in reality, it was something that had been brewing in my mind for some time. I needed to dedicate all of my time to refining my coding and engineering skills. I needed to pursue this passion.
In my mind, the whole world was against me. My boss was furious. My parents, Jonathan, colleagues, friends either scolded me, laughed at me or rolled their eyes when I told them what I had done. I remember talking to my dog with tears streaming down my face saying, “Well even if everyone hates me, I still have you, Wally” as he licked my face and gave me a much needed hug. Somehow I found a way to turn this pain into motivation. I had never been more confident in a decision, and I was determined to prove everyone wrong.
Thanks to some badass female mentors cheering me on, a lot of coffee and sleepless nights, an online bootcamp, and countless personal development podcasts, I became what I never thought was possible.
Today, I am a full stack software engineer.
Writing that sentence literally brings tears to my eyes and gives me goosebumps. It’s a dream that I never thought possible. Something my younger self completely wrote off. Something society told me I couldn’t do. For so long I listened to those voices. But now I’m here, pursuing my lifelong passion. I am an engineer. I am a woman in technology.