Take a good look around you, and figure out whose job looks the most interesting. Then find a way to do that.
Hero Digital is excited to feature Fiona Hart for our Women in Tech series. Fiona encourages women to bounce when they find something worth trying, ask when they see someone doing something they find interesting, and raise their hand when they need help. Read her story below.
I scanned the room. 14 young chaps, all looking as nervous as me, in their own ways. I piped up: “So, how many girls are starting in the technology department today?” “Oh, you’re the only one!” came the cheerful reply from our new manager.
That was the first day of my professional career. Luckily, while my peers and the vast majority of my senior colleagues were all male, I encountered a few female leaders whom I quickly admired and learned from. An amazing QA Lead taught me the importance of developing thorough test scripts; a strong Head of Applications Development helped me segue into the world of business analysis when she saw I had a knack for helping elicit user requirements; and a Bid Management team leader assigned me to her most wayward Account Directors—and thus I found my calling.
Believe it or not, I started out as an English & Theatre major. Not long after I’d graduated I stumbled across an advert for a Masters in IT (hello, email marketing), and, since the pre-enrollment course was free and there I was, 22 and distinctly unemployed, I figured I had nothing to lose… and shortly afterward, to my parents’ delight, I discovered I had an aptitude for logic and programming.
Fast-forward to today, and I would say I got to where I am through a series of bounces. First of course from arts to IT; then within IT I was lucky enough to be able to trial a number of different roles; and finally of course, geographically—I’ve worked in London, Sydney and now LA. IT is amazing in that way—there is so much opportunity that I’d encourage anyone entering the field to take a good look around you, and figure out whose job looks the most interesting. Then find a way to do that. I once approached an extremely senior executive and told him I wanted to learn how to do what he does—and he invited me to shadow him for a month. You never know unless you ask!
Also, try different workplaces (or teams within an organization) on for size. My roles have ranged from big client companies, through to small agencies, and while I now know my sweet spot, along the way I’m not afraid to say I’ve been out of my depth more than once. And the people who helped me when I got scared? Women. I had a wonderful female boss once to whom I confessed I was underwater. She promptly sat down beside me, asked me to write out my most important things for the day, and steadily worked through the highest priority ones with me. And then a few years later she called to ask ME for advice about a topic she knew nothing about. So don’t be afraid to ask for help: people won’t hold it against you, and it won’t belittle you in their eyes—they’ll see a fellow human being who could do with a hand up. And who doesn’t need a hand up from time to time?
So my advice for anyone considering a career in IT would be: bounce when you find something worth trying; ask when you see someone doing something you find interesting; and raise your hand when you need help—then reach the other one out to help someone else.
Thanks for your interest in Hero Digital’s Women in Tech. At Hero, we strive to showcase outstanding female talent at our company, and in doing so, empower others—both within and outside of Hero—to join the growing number of women in technical roles across industries. Connect with us on our careers page to learn more about open positions at Hero Digital.