Going into tech as a non-technical female graduate09/03/2020
Shona Murphy, Spartan
I am a non-technical female graduate working in tech. People often ask: how did you get into technology and what was the process like? When I graduated from university with a degree in Television and Video, I certainly didn't think that I would end up working in tech – the fastest growing sector in modern society – and that I would have so much fun along the way! My journey has certainly been one of self-discovery.
It was towards the end of university that I first came across some literature around the lack of gender diversity in tech. As I continued to read about gender representation in the digital community, I became more and more curious about IT. Technology is historically a male dominated sector and the industry is still sometimes stereotyped in this respect. Most recently, efforts shown by some companies, charities and public bodies to recruit, nurture and support women in tech have started to have an impact and the focus on D&I in industry speaks volumes. I had never considered tech as an avenue before, so this was the first time I was exploring the digital sector. Although I was intrigued, landing a role in industry seemed nearly impossible at the time.
As a university graduate with a Television and Video degree, going into tech certainly wasn’t the easiest choice. At university, young people are often told that securing the perfect role after graduation is easy. In most cases, students are also encouraged to look at careers within their chosen academic subjects, which can prevent some people from exploring alternative professions. However, finding a good role out of university is not something you can expect in the immediate. It can be a daunting, complex and disconcerting task on both a psychological and emotional level. In my case, I was a non-technical female graduate exploring a career in a male-dominated field for the first time. I felt particularly unsure about whether my skillset would fit this new world. Despite being an optimistic person, I found myself questioning my potential, asking myself whether I was “smart enough” to work in tech. The perceived lack of gender representation in industry – along with a fear of not possessing appropriate technical skills – contributed to my hesitation. How could I bridge the technical skillset gap and would I really fit in?
Finding my feet in tech
Sparta Global was my trampoline to launch a career in tech.
Joining Sparta Global meant receiving intense, commercially-relevant technical training within a diverse office environment, which offered me a chance to learn the tools I needed to succeed in the digital industry. At Sparta, I had the opportunity to train and work with so many amazing female colleagues and I received continued support, both technical and personal. After completing a few weeks of training at the Sparta headquarters, I landed an assignment on a full-time client project at the Home Office to work on a very interesting testing portfolio.
Working with clients offered me the opportunity to apply my technical training to real industry problems. At the same time, I also started to realise how much of an impact my academic background had on me. Surprisingly, working on digital projects gave me an opportunity to leverage my creative background. Completing a creative degree had taught me how to explore new concepts, be inventive and think of innovative solutions. I discovered that I could apply the same skills to testing, using creativity and original thinking as a means to explore and enhance user experience.
Creating a career in tech
There are more similarities between video-making and testing than one may imagine. The process of video-making requires you to start with an idea and to work collaboratively within a team to improve and develop it further. It is important to maintain a flexible mentality and to adapt quickly to an unplanned change. Similarly, testing is all about working with your colleagues on a given idea. The process is very dynamic, because you need to be able to think about problems and to navigate unpredictable outcomes. My background in Television and Video helps me immensely in my current role because it has prepared me to think about inventive solutions, to seek open conversations with my peers and managers and to be valued for my creative inputs within the team in an agile working environment.
Diversity also plays an important role in making me feel included at work. For example, I look up to one of my female colleagues in my test team as she is a great role model! She is very knowledgeable in her job and has been a great mentor to me. I also enjoy celebrating other womens’ successes. For example, our new female Scrum Master has just been promoted and I am glad to be part of her career progression journey. Simply put, diversity in teams makes people feel welcome and encourages good work ethics.
Diversity = success
I am a non-technical female graduate in tech and I couldn’t be happier with the choices I have made nor more proud of how far I have come. My creative background has contributed immensely to my success and has opened a lot of opportunities for me in the digital world. At the same time, being a woman in tech has given me a platform to be an ambassador for equality in industry. We spend so much of our lives at work and it is important to feel valued and recognised for who we are in the office. I believe it is essential for companies to increase their focus on diversity and inclusion and to value individuals within their teams regardless of their gender, thinking style or life experiences. Sparta Global is a great example of a company that truly takes inclusion to heart and I am proud to be part of their team.
To all young girls exploring a career in tech, I would say: “go for it, it is worth it”. And even if you find it challenging at first, keep going. Don’t doubt yourself. If you have the motivation to succeed in tech, you will. As a non-technical female graduate, I didn’t think I could do it - and look at me now!