I had the opportunity to sit down with my colleague, Software Engineer Dorcas Ujiji, to talk about her experience co-hosting the WomenHack conference in Hartford, Connecticut on February 5th. Dorcas shared her journey into tech and offered valuable perspectives about diversity in this industry.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been with VidMob and what is your current position?
I was born and raised in Nigeria, and moved to the US for college. As a college junior, I interned at VidMob and I enjoyed my time here so much! So, I was happy to come back to a full-time role as a Full-Stack Software Engineer after graduating in May 2019.
What sparked your interest in tech?
I took the Introduction to Programming class as a college freshman because it was a requirement for my engineering major. Though at the time I did not enjoy the class, I enjoyed doing the homework and the challenge of fixing a bug. So I took another programming class to figure out if I was actually interested in programming. After the class, I decided to also major in Computer Science. I now know that it was one of the best decisions I have made so far.
What is it like being a female in tech?
By the time I was ready to step into the tech world, I had heard of other women’s experiences as software engineers so I knew what to expect. Imposter syndrome is something everyone deals with but when you don’t see yourself represented in your field, it becomes more of an issue. Remembering those times I was surrounded by other female software engineers, like in college and women’s tech conferences, reminds me that I am not alone. Gratefully, working at a startup like VidMob, I get to hear of the impact of my work.
Can you tell us a bit about the WomenHack event you attended with VidMob?
WomenHack is a community that promotes gender equality in tech by helping women land jobs at tech companies that are committed to diversity in the workplace. VidMob was one of the sponsors of the WomenHack Hartford event, which was a speed dating style career fair. The sponsors all pitched their company to applicants at the beginning of the event. Each applicant then got 5 minutes time slots to introduce themselves to each company and talk about their experience and expectations in future positions.
What were your top 3 takeaways from the event?
- A good number of companies are realizing the benefits of diversity and are making a conscious effort to improve in that aspect.
- Even in fields where there are not as many women, like software engineering, there is no shortage of qualified, capable and hard-working women out there. By creating events like this, we give them the opportunity to show up and offer their skills.
- As long as you are willing and able to learn, it is not too late to change fields. At the WomenHack event, I met a good number of women at the cusp of a career change. These women realized that they wanted something different in their professional lives and were bold enough to go acquire the necessary skills. Today, they are employable and also bring to the table the skills acquired in their past professions.
Would you attend a similar event in the future? Are there events you have on your radar?
Participating in events like WomenHack is vital to VidMob and I would jump at the opportunity to attend any. I recently (Feb. 13th) represented VidMob at Smith College’s science, technology and mathematics fair. Events like these help us meet our diversity hiring goals and our engineers are always happy to represent the company.
What advice would you give to other women interested in getting into tech?
Go for it, speak up and yes, you belong! If you are an introvert like me, you should intentionally practice speaking up and contributing to professional discussions. Also, do not be embarrassed to ask questions when confused or in doubt. Remaining clueless is worse than sounding clueless.
Attend women tech events and spend time with female professionals in casual settings too. I had such a great time at the Society of Women’s Engineers National Conference, it felt empowering to meet so many female engineers. There were even spaces to discuss topics like make-up and work attire!
What is the tech scene like in Pittsfield?
The tech scene in Pittsfield is growing fast, thanks to VidMob. Periodic events like the Facebook Developers Circle events and even casual gatherings held in restaurants and bars help connect software developers in the area.
OK, now a 6-question speed round of THIS OR THAT!
- Netflix or Hulu?
2. Cookies or ice cream?
Answer: Ice cream (yummy!)
3. Early bird or night owl?
Answer: Night owl
4. Instagram or Snapchat?
5. Beach or lake?
Answer: Lake (kayaking is more peaceful)
6. Spotify or Apple music?