May Meetup | Retreading the Path to Success: Entering (and restarting) Tech Careers

Our May meetup convened a panel of four local women who have either restarted a tech career or transitioned into a tech career from non-tech educational and professional backgrounds.

The high demand for tech skills has created an employment environment that emphasizes the ability to learn on the job rather than specific educational credentials or professional training. Many women have taken advantage of this trend, whether to retrain for a different career or re-enter the tech work force after a hiatus.

Let’s meet our panelists:

  • Jane Jackson took some time off to be with family and is now the Head of DevOps at rohvi.
  • Katherine Yoder transitioned from clothing design and is now a UX Designer at Jenzabar.
  • Jessica Otey transitioned from academia and is now a DevOps engineer at Welld Health.
  • Amanda Liscouski transitioned from dance instructor to Quality Assurance Associate at the Center for Open Science.

Here are some of the nuggets of advice we captured from the panelists:

  • If you have the chops, dedication, willingness to learn and network and persistence, you don’t need a formal degree for a career in tech.
  • Re-entering tech, you may find that the names have changed, but the fundamentals have not, embrace this learning curve.
  • There’s computational thinking with every part of tech, so pick one thing to focus on and the computational thinking you do with it will translate to other parts of tech.
  • Be thoughtful about where there are jobs, how it builds on your current skills and how it fits doing something you enjoy.
  • In tech, you have to re-evaluate what ignorance means. Anyone who creates tech is failing all the time because they are inventing the tech as they go. People outside tech often fear that process.
  • It can be humbling to start over – being older than many of your peers, getting your foot in the first door and facing a lack of diversity.
  • Take advantage of certification programs with your current employer because then you have flexibility if you change jobs or take a break and come back, it makes the transition easier
  • A career in tech offers you the chance for stability, being part of something bigger, building something and using another part of your brain.

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Charlottesville Women in Tech