London, United Kingdom
Blog: Faith with Petra
Website – PAT Productions
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I'm Petra. I am software developer currently working at the BBC in digital publishing. I love technology and the advancements it has provided, and I believe the Internet is the greatest invention ever!
I am also a freelance developer and a blogger. I enjoy talking about my faith on my blog - Faith with Petra. Outside of technology you can find me dancing to an 80s Motown track, exercising or trying out clean-eating recipes.
How did you decide to get into technology?
It all started back in secondary school. I always enjoyed IT, but in Year 10, when we got to choose our GCSEs, my school were piloting Computing for the first time in our year and I was one of the girls chosen to study this subject. I distinctly remember our teacher introducing us to a program called: Little Man Computer (LMC) -A CPU simulator program. He set a challenge for the class and a prize: the girl that solved all the tasks would win a chocolate crème egg! I was determined to win those chocolates but, in the process, by solving those challenges on LMC, it taught me how to think programmatically and break down a problem into a series of steps to reach a solution. I loved the feeling of accomplishment I had when I solved each of the tasks (and nonetheless the taste of chocolate because I did win the prize)! However, I never forgot that feeling of accomplishment when what I had programmed worked. It led me to pursue Computer Science at university and naturally, I became a software engineer after graduating.
How would you describe your experience in the industry so far?
New and challenging! New as I’ve recently started a new job and so learning the processes and tech stack within my department is all new.
Similarly, within the tech field there are a lot of tools, frameworks, languages and concepts to be understood. It not only requires having the technical skills to meet the needs of your users but also domain knowledge within your specific field to deliver on expectations - all of which adds complexity and makes it challenging.
I choose to embrace the complexity and challenge!
What does a typical day in your job look like?
My day starts with a daily stand-up where we discuss what we have achieved, and what we plan to do for the day. Pair programming with a colleague where we will pick a ticket and collaborate to solve the ticket request. And I can’t forget googling, a lot of googling to debug any issues that arises.
Has your expectation of what the tech world is like matched the reality? How?
Yes and no! Yes, because you would always hear that working within tech is a fast-paced industry and that things are always changing and yes that is indeed true, but no, because developing applications in the real world requires a lot of planning and refactoring and deliberation which I don’t think you realise until you’re actually working within the field!
How do you navigate working with men daily (if you do) and how do you make sure to get your voice heard?
The men that I have worked with have been supportive on my tech journey. I understand that yes, within tech, women are in the minority, therefore certain views and approaches may be different, but to get your voice heard, I feel you need to let your opinions be heard and speak up. You’re as much a part of the team as the men are, and your voice deserves to be heard too. You’re entitled to it!
If you could change one thing about your journey in tech so far, what would it be?
My mindset! As the saying goes, "the battle is won in the mind".
There were times within my journey where imposter syndrome was real with a capital R. I wanted to quit and not pursue a career within tech because I felt I would never be smart enough or competent at my job. I felt overwhelmed at times because I felt I had to know everything to do my job successfully.
However, I would say keep a positive mindset and take things step by step, prioritise what you need to learn and believe that if you continue to be determined you will grow and be the person you envision yourself being at your job.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help when needed!
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
Be a go-getter. If you want to achieve anything take proactive steps to achieve it. Nothing will change if you don’t! I 100% agree with the statement - "nothing great or truly rewarding comes easy."
So, be a go-getter and take the proactive steps required to achieve what you want.
What advice do you have for younger ladies aiming to pursue a career in technology?
The technology field is a field that is very rewarding especially in the times we are in now, where the importance and reliance on technology is at its peak. You have the opportunity to work on very interesting projects in a range of industries. Explore your interests within the field and identify what you enjoy.
Any other comments?
To gain success in technology or any other field, I believe that focusing on progress and trusting in the process is important. I know it is easier said than done, but it is true, regardless of your gender. Working within tech is such a rewarding field for both men and women.
I would like to send a massive thanks to Petra for taking the time out to answer the questions above. Thank you for sharing your story and journey into tech with us. Congratulations on your new job and I wish you all the success in the world! Continue to be the go-getter that you are.
You can visit Petra's website and blog and connect with her via the links listed above.
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