Gender doesn’t define your capabilities | Interview with Valentina
Although women are still lagging in numbers in the tech space, it’s important for girls and young women to know they have the opportunity to change the tech scene and become positive influences. Last time, Olja and Kristina shared with us their experience in the tech sector.
Today, we spoke with Valentina, WAF Support Tech Tier3 Engineer at OrangeCloud to find out what does it actually means to be a ‘woman in tech’?
Tell us about your experience in the Tech sector, how did you get where you are today?
Valentina: As far back as I can remember, we had a PC at home. My dad was doing graphic design in Adobe at that time, so I followed his lead and started playing around with designs and graphics as well. However, my favourite part was definitely playing video games in my spare time, which basically made me and my PC, BFFs.
In high school, I decided to sign up for a couple of IT courses, which definitely made me sure that this is the department I wanted, to be a big part of my life. So when the time came to choose a college major, I was 100% sure what I wanted.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about working in the Tech sector as a woman today?
Valentina: From an early age, the gender stereotype of “boys being better at science, maths, and tech” can really discourage young women from studying STEM subjects. We live in an environment where nobody is encouraging women to move out of the stigma that is given to us, which is that they can only work as a secretary for a man, be a nurse, or cashiers.
When I was growing up, nobody was showing how women can be really good at STEM subjects, be successful, and well paid. At that time, it was something that was only possible in the west. Now we can see that those things have finally changed and more and more women are in this industry.
Do you think it is getting easier for women to get into Tech?
Valentina: Yes, especially since more and more women are online and can see that there are other women in IT (especially in Serbia), that are living the independent "work-life", that they might also want to live. In the last couple of years, a lot of young women reached out to me, to ask about STEM colleges and my job. After all the conversations, I believe that I was able to encourage them to follow their dream in this career path, that everything is possible if you really want it and work hard for it; that gender is not something that matters in a work environment.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
Valentina: For me, it is fighting the stereotype that men are better than women. Showing everybody that gender doesn't define your capabilities.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Valentina: To never fear the stereotypes, always believe in yourself, and do your best. Try to imagine your goals and be persistent in reaching them. The tech industry is huge, there's no doubt, you will find a job and one that is made for you, a job that can help you, to grow and learn.
What was the factor that attracted you to work with Orange Cloud?
Valentina: When I was applying for a job in Orange Cloud, I was looking for an opportunity to learn something new. Orange Could was really offering new skills that were both social and tech related, which was most important to me while looking for a new job.
How was your experience with OC so far?
Valentina: A place where you, the employee, are in the first place. Mental health is such an important factor here, so asking for a day-off when we really need it was never an issue. Sometimes my anxiety and stress are having a huge impact on me, and I never got anything else than understanding and compassion from the management. They are the first people to come and tell you that it is okay to take some time off and focus on yourself. That's why I call Orange Cloud my second family, not to sound cheesy but it really is like that.
Where should a beginner start when aiming for a tech workplace?
Valentina: First jobs are always more like a test, to test yourself, to see what suits you the most, and what is that you are looking for. Some people are looking for good projects, some for good teams, and some for specific benefits.
For me the beginning is the best to start from yourself; learn everything there is to know about the industry and the job. Another way to get some experience in a specific area is to work for little or no money, you can freelance to get hands-on training. It doesn't sound now particularly motivating, but it can help you get your foot into all kinds of doors.
My first job was not a place where I saw myself to stay for long, but it had a good start to improve my knowledge. Getting that I had better chances of getting my next job, which happens to be Orange Cloud. So grab any chance where you can improve yourself; that will help you with your next job which can happen to be just the right place for you like it did for me :)
The more visibility real women in technology get in the world, the higher the chance is that a young girl will come across it and find life-altering inspiration.
So, read these stories and share these stories.