When I first started working as a Sales Associate at T-Mobile, I was a young college student looking for extra cash. The younger me thought that i was making “so much money”, that the computer science degree I had goals of obtaining was no longer necessary. WHEW, talk about naive!! Before i knew it, 7 years flew by, my degree was still unobtained and the older me realized just how LOUD and WRONG I was. As grateful as I was for the opportunities the job had awarded me, I knew being in Sales was not where i wanted to be forever. So, I went back to school and, after countless sleepless nights and extreme time management, your girl finally graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science in May 2018. && the icing on the cake? I was able to get a job at the company I worked so long for.
As i look back on this past year, i can say i’ve learned the following and i hope that those looking to venture into the tech world can take from this set of advice as well:
1. Take advantage of the resources you currently have.
If you’re currently working for a great company but not in your desired field, check your internal job portal and see if they’re hiring in other fields you may be interested in, especially if you’ve been working in that particular company for a long time. Not only will your tenure set you apart from other candidates but you also won’t be forced to leave a company you may love.
2. Even if you don’t have the experience, APPLY ANYWAY!
You’ve probably heard this piece of advice in some shape or form in the past, but I cannot stress how true it is. For myself, the TechX Associate position literally fell in my lap at a point where I had just accepted a summer internship at another company. When I was invited to a technology hiring event at T-Mobile, I went, with no expectations, because I wanted to get an idea of how a tech interview would go. Unfortunately, Even when i realized the departments hiring for post-graduates were exclusively for engineers., I still sat with interviewers, and discussed the responsibilities required of the candidate they were looking for. I was very transparent about my lack of experience, but i was also adamant in showing them how dedicated i would be in completing the tasks that would be required of me if hired. To my surprise, I was offered the job about a couple weeks later and was able to transition from the stores as a Retail Sales Associate into the corporate office as a TechX Associate. Yes, it was a challenge at first since i didn’t know much about anything, but what a difference a year makes!
The TechX program was probaly the best start I could’ve had as a web developer, simply because it exposed me to so many different sides of Technology in such a short period of time. When i started this 18 month program a year ago, I joined an Engineering Team where my job was to create tools to make the engineers’ jobs much easier. My tasks included creating complex SQL queries for large datasets, creating Excel and Access Data Reports, and creating ASP.NET web apps that included Forms Authentication, user tracking, and SQL connection. 6 months later, during my 2nd rotation, I transitioned to a new department, where my new tasks included learning Python, and applying it to Data Science concepts. I was able to create an automated tool that identified correlations between variables in a large dataset and outputted the results to an Excel file. Finally, in my current (and last) rotation, I am living in Atlanta and a part of a development team, learning how to collaborate on a team of both backend and frontend developers, using open source, and coding in languages like Angular 6 and Java.
To make a long story short, to anyone looking to break into the tech industry, especially women, the worst thing you can do is sell yourself and your capabilities short. A year ago when this opportunity presented itself to me, i was adamant that I would fail miserably at it and was even hesitant to celebrate my accomplishments because i truly felt it wouldn’t last. Transitioning into my field has opened so many doors for me and taught me so much and i truly can’t wait to see what’s next!