Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Keep at it kids

So my first post is going to be about something that's fairly personal to me. Hopefully it may help some people, for the pure fact that when you're a kid you make silly choices, you don't know what you want and you get to a point where you think all you've made is mistakes.  What I would like to put across is despite the nightmare of enduring the end of education, and being released into a frightening and lonely professional world - there is hope, and if you put your mind to it you can achieve your dreams! 

Incidentally, as this is a long post, I'm going to break it up with images that really don't bear any meaning to the context of the article, who doesn't like aesthetics right?

Classic geek chic?

The technology industry is hugely competitive, whether you're 50 with a masters and countless years of experience under your belt, a school or university graduate with a thirst for something big and exciting - it is hard, it's always hard to get your foot into any doorway. For example, when I moved to London in the UK I'd already had 6 years experience in my chosen profession, and had that inaugural "step on the ladder to success". I applied for a total of 375 jobs in less than a month. In total I heard back from only one of those, for which I did a series of interviews only to be told that I was considered overqualified for the role. The job I did eventually land was a response to a classified I'd posted on Gumtree about myself (a last chance clutch at straws I didn't think existed!), and it's been one of the most rewarding and educating experiences I've had to date (I am still working there).

If you have the chance, and the head on your shoulders to choose the right course, to continue to a higher education while you're still young - consider it at least, it can be a struggle without but please for the love of God don't do a degree in something you're not really interested in. I chose to leave school at 15, after obtaining a clean run of GCSE's - none of which were in IT, went to college to do media for three months and dropped out - I hated it! So then I began working in offshore finance doing account exec. & relationship management jobs. This left me generally deflated with no hope of doing anything which truly stimulated me. I persevered, and eventually at 17 was given a chance to work for a very small computer reseller firm, this didn't last long - which was fortunate as the people I was working for were part of a cult (my life does take random turns when it likes to!). Thus I went back into finance.

Yes, it is a Geek Barbie.
As you can imagine I was probably feeling like I'd gone back to square one. When you're young you expect everything on your plate and if that doesn't happen it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Again I persevered, this is key if you want to give yourself a chance in the technology industry. Eventually, after doing quite well in finance, I made a break for it and began re-applying for technology starter roles, support jobs, consultancies etc. By chance I was offered an interview for a consultancy and was finally taken on, this was my first true step to building my career. One key stroke of luck for me in this scenario was the fact that I was female, it was made clear to me that this worked in my favour as I was client-facing - remember this, girlgeeks, there is nothing wrong with using your gender to benefit your success - as long as you remain moral and ethical.

From there the only way for me has been up, a fruitful seven years after I was given that consultancy role I'm on an upward slope working as an Infrastructure Manager for a popular trading technology firm.

Now, the nitty-gritty. I'm only 24. This means I have 9 years experience in employment, 7 of which are in technology. Some people will tell you experience is best, some will tell you that you need a degree, I cannot tell you which is best.

Some companies won't even look at your CV if you don't have a degree, so having a higher education under your belt will certainly work in your favour but when you do finally graduate - you can't be impatient, you will have to start work either interning or doing menial 2nd or 1st line support - your career path will start of slowly and you will get frustrated.

Some companies won't look at your CV unless you've had at least 5 years experience in your field. This has worked for me, and comes across very well when networking - which you must always strive to do, especially if you don't have a fancy certificate to show for yourself - get a LinkedIn profile, beef it up.

Personally, I would love a degree. Do I wish I'd done it after leaving school? No, because with my varied experience, perseverance and confidence in what I do I can afford to do distance learning, and I know now with my self and work educated knowledge a degree won't be so tough.

What I will say is that if you haven't got a degree, and you're feeling like giving up on your dreams - don't. All you need is willpower (and this internet, this is your everything!) and a healthy dose of confidence. You don't need a degree to know about something, there are countless free resources out there to get you on your way. This is a huge planet, there are always technology jobs, for which 100's of people will always apply for - the laws of probability dictate that if you apply for enough of those jobs, eventually you will get the one you need to let your inner geek blossom.

Good luck, strut your stuff but most of all - don't give up :)

Plusone sheblog!

Well, as I already have a DJ/Personal blog, I thought it a good idea to perhaps start posting about something a little more relative to my life.

She++ is my obviously cliché name for my new geek-blog, I'll cover everything from everyday technology rants, stuff about working in the industry, a LOT of stuff about being a young woman in the industry, tutorials and soforth.

I've worked in IT for a total of almost 7 years now, it's had it's ups and downs but I love it, hopefully I can share some of that love and for those of you feeling a little deflated with how things are in the world of working in IT - maybe I can rekindle some hope.

Anyway, over and out for now.