Get stuck in and give the tech industry a try! An interview with Ruth Waterfield
This is an interview that I was really excited to do, and explores the personal story of another talented woman in technology. I met with some of the team at Mayden earlier this year and I was really impressed by the set up of the organisation and also the achievements of their Mayden Academy.
Mayden Academy teaches aspiring developers the fundamentals of coding, software design and agile project management in 16 weeks. It was created by a leading tech firm in the South West. No experience necessary, you’ll learn all you need to land your first job as a junior software developer. They know exactly what employers are looking for, and their intensive training will get you there!
I was interested to speak to Ruth about why she chose Mayden Academy and her journey through university. In my experience, and through conversations I have had with others, the consensus is that women who graduate with a maths related degree are earmarked for careers in accountancy, scientific research and economics although rarely programming and as Andrew Carr would echo, software development is all about problem solving to create beautiful code. Some of the most talented software engineers I have met, and had feedback on in my time have been very mathematical. Maths and programming are closely interlinked and it would be great to see more women studying maths related degrees consider programming a career option, this is something we all know needs to be worked on and promoted which we will be soon.
Ruth’s career should encourage any young lady who is thinking about a career in tech that anything is possible, yes it’s a lot to take in, a lot to learn, but remember—it’s worth it.
RUTH, YOU ARE NOW A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER FOR MAYDEN BUT YOU DID A MATHS DEGREE, HOW DID YOU BECOME A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER?
I really enjoyed studying mathematics, especially the abstract concepts and logic puzzles and I wanted to find a real world application that would have the fun and satisfaction of problem solving with a positive impact in the world. I investigated a few options, and software development stood out to me, so I gave it a try, and then I enjoyed it so much I knew it was what I wanted to do!
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT MAYDEN AND THE MAYDEN ACADEMY?
I first found out about Mayden at a fair at university for companies that had taken on computer science placement students. I met a couple of people who had done placements and one of the directors and loved what I heard about the company. The culture and values of the company along with the areas they work in really drew me to them and I was so glad to have the opportunity of doing the Mayden Academy to give me all the skills I needed to get stuck in to working in my team.
YOU WERE THE ONLY WOMAN WITHIN THE ACADEMY WHEN YOU DID YOUR COURSE, HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
Although it might sound a little daunting to be doing an intensive course for 16 weeks in a room with 9 men (2 trainers and 7 other students), it really made no difference to how I was taught, valued as a team member working together on projects or my ability to learn and progress. Both trainers and other students were friendly and it was a great environment to learn in.
HOW HAS THE ACADEMY HELPED YOU WITH YOUR CAREER?
Learning rapidly and intensely for 16 weeks was brilliant to set me up to go straight into a development team afterwards. I was able to learn relevant skills and tools in an environment with trainers ready to answer questions as quickly as I could think of them and alongside peers who were grappling with the same puzzles I was. Working on projects with the other students in the course gave me the chance to learn incredibly valuable non-technical skills too which prepared me really well to go and work in a very similar environment.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO GIRLS IN HIGH SCHOOL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY?
If you enjoy solving problems and working with others to find ways to do things smarter and better, the world needs people like you! Keep learning, keep asking questions, keep challenging yourself. There is no reason you can’t do as well as your male peers at Maths, Computer Science or whatever you choose to apply yourself to, go for it!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN GRADUATES INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY?
Get stuck in and give the tech industry a try, you might love it! Don’t let potentially unjustified preconceptions put you off pursuing something you enjoy and find satisfaction in doing!
YOU MENTIONED TO ME THAT YOU DON’T HAVE LINKEDIN, ANY REASON BEHIND THIS?
I have so far not seen a need to sign up, but neither have I really investigated its merits! I was fortunate in that through researching the local area through university and keeping my ears and eyes open I found a software job that was perfect for me.
WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO?
I loved the film ‘Hidden Figures’ and I wish I could be as courageous and assertive as the three heroines Mary, Dorothy and Katherine. In challenging, male-dominated environments each of them were confident in their technical competency and potential to do work of great value. The manner in which they conducted themselves to remove any potential barriers they encountered lead to them having crucial roles in the work of NASA and enabled other females to join them.
WHAT ARE YOU FUTURE AMBITIONS?
I want to use my technical skill set, love of problem solving and logic to make a positive difference to people’s lives. I believe that we such an amazing opportunity to use tech intelligently to find solutions to problems we face as a society and I want to be part of the transformations. My current job at Mayden is transforming the way people access mental healthcare for example.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS LACKING FOR GIRLS/WOMEN WITHIN TECHNOLOGY?
Perhaps a little confidence from within the community that we as women are valued for our contributions and opinions. The idea that we are the minority potentially feeds a rumour that we cannot speak up and will not be listened to by male peers. I have not found this to be the case, sometimes we just need to speak up a little I think!
Thank you Ruth & the team at Mayden Academy, looking forward to working with you in the future.