Tech Isn’t Just for Dudes: An Interview with a #GirlWhoCodes

February 9, 2016 Janna S.

I recently sat down for a chat with Maria A., a developer who works on Daxko’s flagship product, Daxko Operations. Maria discussed women who have careers in tech, what she loves about being a developer, and more. Read on for the interview!

Maria

Janna: Let’s get right to it. What do you love most about being a developer?

Maria: I love the challenges. Technology is constantly changing, and what’s new and hip one day might be outdated tomorrow. So I am constantly learning and trying new things. Tech is never boring!

Janna: You’ve been at Daxko for almost a year. Now that the honeymoon phase is over, what are some cool projects you’ve loved working on during that time?

Maria: I’ve been working on Daxko Operations from day one. I used to work on maintenance, and the cool thing about that was that I never knew what tasks I’d get to tackle from day to day. Daxko Operations is a huge system, so I’d come to work every day wondering what I would get to work on. I’ve been working on the feature side of Daxko Operations recently, which has also been really fun.

Janna: You also got step away from your day-to-day work and do some innovating during our most recent Daxko Lab Days.

Maria: Yes! An idea was pitched for a volunteer matching service, so I got to help build the system. We created an open platform using Ruby on Rails, which I had never programmed in before. It was really cool! Ruby is very dynamic, more so than C#. And Lab Days also gave me the chance to work with Adam L., another developer who I don’t get to work with normally. It was really awesome to collaborate with him.

Janna: How do you stay up-to-date in your field?

Maria: Working with my team really helps. Every day when I come to the office my teammates are talking about new technology. We watch a lot of videos about new tech. And Steven W. is a human Wikipedia – he knows so much stuff about technology and just has general knowledge about basically everything.

Janna: You started off as a contracted team member, so you got to court Daxko for a while. What made you say “I do” to a permanent role?

Maria: I truly felt like Daxko was a great company. I just felt good about the work I was doing, and I wanted to continue. I loved the code I was writing, and more than anything, I loved the people.

Janna: I love the people here too. Why are you so fond of your teammates?

Maria: Everyone on my team is really nice and always willing to collaborate. If I don’t know how to do something, I know I can ask the senior developers on the team. And if I make a mistake, they’ll tell me – but they never make me feel inadequate for making an error.

Janna: Do you have a mentor?

Maria: Honestly, I view my team lead, Matt D., as a mentor. I always feel comfortable asking him for help or advice, and he never makes it seem like it’s just his “job” to offer guidance.

Janna: Recently, SAP North America became the first tech company in the U.S. to receive a gender equality certification. What do you think other companies could do to follow suit and hire more women for technical roles?

Maria: I don’t think companies are intentionally trying not to hire women. But there are significantly fewer females in tech. I think we need more young women to decide they want to enter tech careers. And then once they have their degree, apply to any role they think they might be a fit for. Women need to ensure they’re getting out there and making their voices heard. This field is not just for men!

Janna: What advice would you give to young women who desire a tech career?

Maria: Don’t ever believe you are being undermined. If you think it, it becomes a reality. Even if you feel like people might judge you or think you’re inferior if you make a mistake or ask for help, don’t be afraid to do it. And ask someone to mentor you. You’d be surprised at how nice people are and how much they want to help you.

Janna: How would you encourage school-aged young girls to develop a passion for tech?

Maria: Math and logic skills can help you immensely when you start to learn about coding. Play games like chess to develop your logical thinking skills. I actually never went to school for computer science, so I am living proof that math and logic skills can take you a long way and help you understand coding languages.

Janna: There are so many cool tech companies and jobs in Birmingham, but it feels like our city can sometimes fly under the radar. As a recent transplant to Birmingham from the Dominican Republic, what do you like about living here? What would you tell someone who is considering taking the leap and moving here?

Maria: When Daxko offered me a full-time position, I was honestly really scared to take it – not because I didn’t like the job or the people, but because of what I thought Alabama would be like. I’d heard there was crime, and if you Google ‘Alabama,’ it can seem kind of rural. I debated for a week on whether or not I should take the risk and move here. I’m glad I did, because I really like Birmingham. There’s a lot of cool stuff to do here. On the weekends, I like going to the lake and hiking. I love the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I even like the weather! In Birmingham, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be able to do cool things. And Atlanta is an easy drive from Birmingham, so you can easily take a day trip over there.

Janna: I’m glad it turned out to be a good experience for you. Birmingham has really come a long way!

Maria: In general, I was a little taken aback by how nice people have been here in Birmingham. Even when I’m in the supermarket, I run into people I don’t even know and strike up a conversation with them! I also really appreciate the diversity in the city.

Janna: Okay, last thing, because I always have food on the brain – what’s been your favorite place to eat in Birmingham?

Maria: I really like Mr. Wang’s. The food is authentic and just really good. I’m looking forward to trying more restaurants around town, too.

Janna: Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! You’re awesome.

Maria: You’re welcome!

WIT


Are you a woman in tech? Tweet us @Daxko using the hashtag #WomeninTech to let us know why you love your job, what you look for in a job, or what advice you’d give to young women entering tech careers.

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