The Best Advice I Could Give To A Female Colleague About The Tech Industry
So what is it really like working in the Tech Industry? Claire shares her own experiences.
4 min read
I have worked with technology my whole working career from the age of 16 to the present day (35), in a variety of different contexts and environments.
I started off in a local council as a basic administrator and IT assistant. My first job out of school, I appreciated the welcoming environment which included more experienced women in the office. Looking back I didn't make the most of the mentoring they tried to provide me. Oh, the naivety of youth! However, they did support me massively finding my next role, helping prepare my application forms and for interviews. I was 16 years, 9 months and 20 days old when I joined the British Army as a Communications Systems Engineer.
This was a completely different experience to working in an office, but something that defined me. I learnt about communications and IT and gaining the base technical knowledge that I still use now. I also grew up living away from home (quite quickly!) and learnt just how hard I could push myself, travelling all over the world when doing so. As well as gaining a Modern Apprenticeship, NVQ’s and numerous technical qualifications, I also learnt how to drive, including getting a Heavy Goods Vehicle Licence!
This all changed when I had my son. As much as I loved the active lifestyle I could see how hard it was going to be doing that whilst being a parent and needed a more stable role. At this point I joined Hewlett Packard as a Service Delivery Consultant, where I worked on projects involving Data Centre builds, Data and Mail Migration and Desktop Rollouts.
This gave me a taste for Technical Management and I decided to branch out on my own as a freelance contractor. For the next 7 years, I worked for a variety of different clients, primarily in the public sector, working as a Project and Programme Manager. During this period I have led and managed small teams on infrastructure projects, to large teams up to 100 people including suppliers
I currently work as a Civil Servant as a Product Centre Lead, where I oversee a multi-skilled team of nearly 200 people that build and maintain the end to lifecycle for all the product in our group.
I have truly enjoyed every single one of these roles. Each one has brought a different set of people and challenges - always keeping me on my toes! The key thing that I enjoy is the people. The great thing about tech is that it requires a variety of different skill sets and experiences to make it hang together - it not all about coders! People often work in small multi-skilled teams towards a common goal.
This means that the teams are always made of a real mix of people and backgrounds, from software engineers to User Experience Design and Business Analysts. There is something for everyone in the tech industry. Plus, nowadays and most companies actively promote gender diversity and inclusivity to get more women into technology roles.
So, what is the best advice that I could give to a female colleague about the tech industry? Easy - jump in and try it out!
Check out Tech Companies at University Fairs or Events and see what they have to offer. Perhaps look into a doing an Internship or Summer Camp to see what it's like. Or attend a Hackathon to pick up the vibe. All great steps to starting your career in Tech.
Claire Donald is a Project & Program Manager with over 15 years’ experience delivering IT infrastructure and application projects using traditional, agile and continuous delivery methods. She has a high tolerance for ambiguity and has worked within fast paced and high pressure environments, taking an entrepreneurial approach. Claire is currently completing an Executive MBA with Surrey Business School.