When I sat down with Dr. Rebecca Parsons, chief technologist at ThoughtWorks, at the 2017 Collision Conference in New Orleans last week, she dropped some insights about the various paths to job satisfaction in the tech sector.

Her own path was not conventional. After getting a book on programming from her algebra teacher in 8th grade, Rebecca proceeded to teach herself computer programming, drop out of high school because she was “bored to tears,” and start college early. She graduated college and then one week later completed her high school requirements.  

The company you choose matters.

You might not know how to get started, Rebecca told me, but working for a company that encourages your technology growth is a great first step. Women who are either just starting their tech career or re-entering the workforce should make it a priority, she says, to seek out tech companies that have already set a precedent for global inclusion and advancement of women in STEM Careers.

ThoughtWorks India’s initiative, she says, is helping female IT professionals to get back in the industry. The company also has a networking and education collaboration with i.c.stars in Chicago. And they helped Hands Up United launch the Roy Clay Sr. Web Development and Entrepreneurship program. In the ThoughtWorks UK office, their community space supports Mum’s in Tech. And finally, the company’s made a commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces. 

It’s available? Take it. 

The important thing is to know that when opportunities present themselves, seize them, says Rebecca. Know what you want and find those that support your endeavors. She’s actually never had to seek out employment, she told me, because the jobs have always come to her. Networking pays off, and attending conferences like Collision Conference, the Grace Hopper Conference, and so on really does give you a network. 

Change and flex and pivot!

And finally, be adaptable to change. The most innovative companies are going to pivot based on future trends. Know that the software language you learn now may be completely different in five years. Be willing to understanding what technology can do and embrace the idea that you can solve problems that no one even knows exist.  

If you’re interested in more from Rebecca Parsons, she’s written a few great pieces for us in the past, all still relevant!

CTO to Women in IT: You Are Not Weird
How To Get More Women Executives in IT
Expanding the Leadership Presence of Women at Tech Conferences: 3 Ideas

Grace Belangia, Media Correspondent for Women2.0 covers women in tech, women entrepreneurs, angel investing and will travel most anywhere as long as the wifi is good and the coffee is strong.

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