Three Inspiring Women On The Reality Of Breaking Into Tech

What’s it really like being new to the tech scene as a woman? 3 inspiring alumnae tell all…

by Jaye Hannah on 1 September 2021

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Between Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd becoming the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire, and Kristina Ashley Williams’ new company unpacking receiving a grant from Beyoncé herself, the tech world has been taken by storm by trailblazing women. But despite the industry’s evolution over the last decade, there’s still work to be done—both in terms of getting more women into tech jobs, and creating safer, more inclusive workplaces.

According to builtin, only 26% of tech-related jobs were occupied by women in 2020, and only 34.4% women make up the workforce of the five largest tech companies on the planet (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft). Change is on the horizon, but the solution is clear: we need more women in tech.

While the current statistics paint a pessimistic picture, they shouldn’t deter you—or anyone—from pursuing a career in tech. No matter your gender, age, or background, it all boils down to your passion, and the quality of your work. But don’t just take it from us.

To showcase just how fulfilling a career in tech can be, we rounded up three inspiring stories from CareerFoundry alumnae who overcame all roadblocks to forge fulfilling careers for themselves in tech.

Julie Marx, Munich, UX designer at reev

It’s commonly thought that previous tech-related experience is a prerequisite for a successful career in tech. We wholeheartedly disagree—just ask Julie Marx, an opera singer turned UX designer currently based in Munich.

Having relocated to Germany for her opera career, Julie began supplementing her job at the Munich Opera with odd-jobs, like bartending. It wasn’t long before she came to a realization: she didn’t want to be an opera singer anymore.

After a spot of soul searching, Julie decided her next step would be graphic design. She’d always been interested in art, so it made sense (or so she thought). She quickly realized that graphic design wasn’t the missing piece she’d been looking for, so she once again took to the drawing board. This time, she came across something completely new: UX design.

“I liked making digital designs, but when I researched graphic design, I realized it involved a lot of pixel pushing. When I learned more about UX design, I was especially intrigued by the analytical side. It merges the creative side that I’ve always had with the analytical skills I’d developed as a musician.”

Julie enrolled in our UX Design Program alongside maintaining some part-time jobs. When she found herself with additional time due to the Covid-19 lockdown, she poured her all into the material—and relished the experience, citing the bespoke, individualized feedback she got from her tutor as a driver for her progression throughout the program.

Upon completion, Julie landed a six-month UX design internship after applying via LinkedIn—and joined as the team’s second designer. Impressed with her CareerFoundry projects, her new team got her stuck in straight away with creating wireframes and user flows for the product’s app redesign. Three months into her internship, Julie’s team were so impressed with her work that they promoted her to UX designer!

The moral of the story? Never let your lack of experience deter you from switching careers. It’s all about what you bring to the table, not what you’ve done in the past.

“I was definitely nervous at first. It’s all-new, and I felt like I had to prove myself. But back when I was an opera singer, I never felt like it was my environment or my people. Here in UX, even though I’m new, I feel totally in the right place.”

You can read Julie’s full career change story here.

Elizabeth Decker, San Antonio, TX, data analyst at JLMI/data analytics tutor at CareerFoundry

With data analytics emerging as one of the hot new tech jobs in 2021, we’ve eagerly awaited the first cohort of CareerFoundry’s new Data Analytics Program—and were bowled over at the news that data student Elizabeth had already launched her data career a mere four months after starting the program. How did she go from Starbucks barista to full-time data analyst on a military base? Commitment, positivity, and (of course) hard work.

Having worked at Starbucks for six years, Elizabeth felt ready for a change—preferably something that would put her mathematics degree to better use. Faced with unemployment in the pandemic, she decided it was time to take her future into her own hands, and enrolled in CareerFoundry’s Data Analytics Program. For Elizabeth, a career in data analytics would allow her to work with numbers while getting creative with visualizations. It felt like the best of both worlds.

Four months into the program, Elizabeth applied for a role as a data analyst on a military base. Two phone interviews later, she was hired! She now works on one of the largest bases in the U.S., and uses data to identify issues and areas for improvement.

What stands out about Elizabeth’s story is her unshakeable determination to make the switch. When considering a career change, we can spend months ruminating over all the ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’, and imagining all the ways we can fail. Elizabeth envisioned a different path for herself, and made her vision come true. So can you!

“I know sometimes when you’re debating something, you can’t help thinking ‘Oh, will it work out?’ ‘Should I do it?’ But, if you’re not happy in your current job, I think you should just go ahead and take a leap of faith.”

To read Elizabeth’s full career change story, head here.

Ewa Mieżwińska, Warsaw, UX strategist at Panowie Programiści

Ewa is no stranger to the concept of wearing multiple hats. Having worked previously in PR and marketing, it was an e-commerce role that introduced her to UX design. Acting on a suggestion from her manager that she should start taking on more UX-related responsibilities, Ewa decided to solidify her skills and enroll in CareerFoundry’s Intro to UX Design Course. Upon completion, she landed a job as a UX designer in a startup—but enrolled in the full UX Design Program while learning the ropes of her new role. Studying while working isn’t an easy feat, and as she writes in her medium article, time management was vital for making it work.

While settling into her first UX design role, Ewa discovered she had a knack (and a passion) for understanding the real needs of the clients and users. Soon after, she left her company and landed a new role at a software house in her homeland of Poland. Here, she was able to act on her passion for communicating with multiple clients at one time. She began leading workshops with clients and stakeholders, and realized that talking to the client and validating the concept was her strong suit. The obvious next step became clear: UX strategy.

As a UX strategist, Ewa’s role involves a lot of decision-making. She plays a core role in the product’s evolution, and, as you could imagine, it’s not always smooth sailing.

“Leading workshops means being a skilled moderator. You have three people in a room who are responsible for a product, and even though they want to build the same product, they have vastly different opinions. I have to be the one that takes their views into account and produces the best possible solution. Sometimes I have to find a way to moderate with some of the toughest negotiators—people can be very emotional about their product. You have to know how to talk to people, mediate, and manage expectations in a way that makes everyone in the room feel heard.”

Ewa’s story is a testament to the importance of carving out your own space in tech. Sure, she could’ve stagnated as a UX designer—but she wanted more, and she went for it. There’s no cookie-cutter formula to forging a career in tech; the key is to never stop learning and honing your craft. Read her full career change story in this article.

Hopefully, these three stories inspire you to go after your goals. If you’re a woman considering a career in tech, go for it! There’s space in the industry for everyone—and the more diverse backgrounds we bring to the scene, the better the industry will become.

by Jaye Hannah on 1 September 2021

About the author

CareerFoundry Marketing Content Editor Jaye Hannah

Jaye Hannah

Jaye is a London-based freelance writer and content strategist with a background in EdTech. When she’s not working on her UX writing course, you’ll find her nerding out over inclusive content.