Hello world, I’m back on the digital map after two weeks of travel! In what’s passed of January so far, I’ve spent just three days at home and the rest on the road (I’m writing this on January 18), setting up 2015 to be another exciting year of travel. I kicked off the year with a flight to Halifax on the 1st and spent ten days in Halifax with my boyfriend and friends I haven’t seen since I left at the end of the summer. One of the wonderful things about working in technology is having the freedom to work remotely. It unlocks the world! Or at least the parts of the world with high-speed internet.
After Halifax I spent three short days getting things in order back home in Toronto, then headed right back out on the road to Montreal for CUSEC, the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference. At CUSEC I had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of fellow technical students from across the country as I manned the Microsoft recruitment booth. Speaking to students from other schools is always inspiring and humbling, and I always leave these events feeling positive and refreshed.
One of the most memorable moments from CUSEC was when some girls asked me for advice on being a woman in tech. If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you’ve seen me grow through a number of different stages, from when I became a Microsoft Student Partner to when I got my internships and began traveling for work. Just last year I was on the other side of the table, asking women at a Halifax tech event what it was like to work in a male-dominated industry, and listening intently for some sparkling nuggets of advice that could make the journey a little easier. What’s it like? Do you feel out of place? How do you deal with gender discrimination? Being asked these questions reminded me of when I was asking those same questions, and I am so pleased to be able to honestly say I have found a workplace where I don’t feel discriminated or undermined at all.
One student told me her parents were concerned about her career in software, that they told her her career is not suited to a future as a mother. But I’ll bet that those parents wouldn’t have said anything if their daughter wanted to be a doctor or a teacher. Another student mentioned that her boyfriend doesn’t think software development is an enjoyable activity for a girl, and that she’s beginning to doubt it herself – but if that student enjoyed painting instead of programming, would her boyfriend discourage her the same way? My advice is this: It is so important to realize that no one else has the right to decide for you what your interests are. This goes for people of all ages, whether you’re entering the workforce, deciding what you’ll study at university, or switching careers at any time in your life. You are the only one who can decide what you like and dislike, and you should take it upon yourself to do what you like as much as possible. In this day and age, the line between “boy things” and “girl things” is fuzzier than ever, and will hopefully be erased in generations to come.
I’m so pleased to have had these conversations at CUSEC, and I hope they’re conversations we can continue to have going forward. Girls, students, anyone, if you’re reading this, please feel free to reach out at any time. It can be difficult to find a listening ear or someone accessible who understands the situation, I know. But here’s a beautiful thing about the age we live in – no matter where we are in the world, there’s always someone on the other end of the computer. So whether I’m in Halifax, Toronto, Montreal or somewhere else, drop me a line and I’m happy to chat. :)