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Spotlight Series: Nikita Clarke, Graduate Software Engineer, Strategic Delivery Group, Experian

Nikita Clarke from Experian

ARTICLE SUMMARY

SheCanCode caught up with Nikita Clarke from Experian to find out about how she landed her role, important skills needed for a career in tech, and her advice for those just starting out in their careers.

BASED IN LICHFIELD, NIKITA CLARKE IS A GRADUATE SOFTWARE ENGINEER FOR THE STRATEGIC DELIVERY GROUP AT EXPERIAN.

Nikita has worked at Experian for seven months after going through the Code First Girls x Experian initiative. She has a sociology degree and a background in administration.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED?

I knew I really wanted to be a Software Engineer, but this specific role wasn’t planned. For the two years after I graduated university, I was searching for a way to get into tech. But honestly, I didn’t feel like there was a path for me and didn’t know what route to take.

I was job searching and I ended up stumbling across the Code First Girls x Experian initiative. Once I saw the initiative, I instantly knew it was what I wanted to do and applied. It was the path I’d been searching for over the past two years; I’d finally found a way in.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE? 

I’m learning so many news skills in my current role, such as understanding data processes and their usages. Not to mention coding, testing, de-bugging and solving issues, and agile skills – the lot! I’ve more recently had to conduct tech demonstrations for over 50 people, which is exciting.

As you can see, my role is super varied, which I love, and lets me work in a very agile way.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

No, I don’t have a role model in tech if I’m being completely honest, but I did find the story of Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe empowering as a woman.

In a broader sense, I have extremely powerful women in my life, and I’m surrounded by women in my life who inspire me every day.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

I’m really proud of how I got into the tech industry, taking the biggest risk of my life, going into a new industry with no experience. I’m proud of not letting imposter syndrome beat me and that I’m constantly learning, challenging myself and trying to push myself to be better.

I’m grateful of the position I’m in now, after taking those risks, and how much progress I’ve made.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

I think willingness to learn is a big one and being open to the challenges that come your way. I found that my company cared more about me as a person and my passion for the role, than about my experience.

I’d advise others not to hold themselves back because their degree isn’t relevant or they don’t have the experience, as their employer can help them develop to become better once in a job role.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

I’ve honestly found it to be very supportive! Everyone has given me the chance to develop and supported me the whole way through my journey. My team at Experian couldn’t be more supportive of my development, and the people I’ve met in the six months have honestly been amazing.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Yes, I have definitely dealt with imposter syndrome. Just the thought of starting a new job in a new sector made me so anxious, I honestly thought I wouldn’t know what I was doing.

But I’m getting there now, you really do have to challenge your own brain when it’s telling you you’re not good enough – because you are! It’s important to listen to the positive feedback and fight the voice in your head that’s doubting you; if you listen to the positive feedback around you, you’ll start to realise how good of a job you’re really doing.

I also get a real sense of accomplishment when I do something independently.

It allows me to look back and say, ‘wow I’ve done that all by myself, I am capable of everything I put my mind to’.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re in a new job and it’s going to be different and uncomfortable at first, but don’t forget that you’re there for a reason. You’re going to develop and in six months’ time from now you’ll be in a completely different space.

Be inquisitive and ask questions – they’re the sort of things that help you develop. And most importantly, have fun!

Work should be an enjoyable place for you.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY? 

Don’t be scared to apply for roles, and remember your degree doesn’t define you or your career. If I didn’t take that risk and apply for the Code First Girls x Experian initiative, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

It’s also important to get out there and get your foot in the door and to take up all of the opportunities you can. For example, before I started this job, I taught myself skills on YouTube. Demonstrating these self-learnt skill shows initiative, and can help you get into the industry.

Please don’t be afraid to take up space as a woman, believe in yourself and take that leap of faith – although it may be uncomfortable at first, I promise you it’s so worth it.

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