Updated: Aug 27, 2020
Greater NYC Area
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Von Arzu and I am a Bronx native, Navy Veteran, explorer of technology, LGBT+, and a life learner. In Summer 2020, I enrolled In General Assembly's Software Engineering Immersive Coding Bootcamp to better my skills in Software engineering. I am also pursuing a Master’s degree in Information with two concentrations of Interaction Design and Data Science. I want to change the world through software engineering, technology, and create better resources for underrepresented groups.
How did you decide to get into technology?
I served in the US Navy and deployed during Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. My ship had installed a navigation system called Voyage Management System (VMS), a computer-based navigation, planning, and monitoring system that I had to tell what to do. It is similar to coding. Being deployed led me to build my first computer and begin exploring what technology is. I completed my term in the military and left to pursue tech. I did not know what position to pursue but I knew tech was the industry I wanted to be in.
How would you describe your experience in the industry so far?
The tech industry is a cultural shock when you have not been exposed to it.
I had to adjust to the environment of its being and the environment of being the only woman who was a minority. I also had to adjust my way of thinking, adapt to the continuous learning format, and observe more than I spoke.
Misogyny exists highly in tech and it can be challenging at times. My support system, taking care of my health mentally, physically, and emotionally, not being afraid to ask for help, and speaking up are what has helped me to keep going despite the challenges.
What does a typical day in your job look like?
Has your expectation of what the tech world is like matched the reality? How?
Yes, because I did my research on it upon joining. I have read articles and met with people who have been within the tech industry for years.
I imagined it to be a place of continuous learning and networking opportunities and it is.
How do you navigate working with men daily (if you do) and how do you make sure to get your voice heard?
When around men or people in general, I speak confidently when I need help with coding concepts and when I have ideas. If I sense any type of negativity, I try to ignore it and vent to my support system if it bothers me.
Ignoring the ignorant will get you far in tech.
Everything does not need your energy. Speaking up for yourself is a must and there is a balance in need of finding when to react.
If you could change one thing about your journey in tech so far, what would it be?
Not dropping out of the first bootcamp I was enrolled in 2018. Fear took over my confidence and I would be a lot farther if I had stayed and pushed through. I do not beat myself up about it because I am enrolled in one now and doing well.
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
The best professional advice I've received is to find problems or glitches within any company's system and solve them.
What advice do you have for younger ladies aiming to pursue a career in technology?
Do not let fear or misogynistic men influence you to abandon your goals and aspirations. You can do it, you need you.
Any other comments?
Thank you, take care and have a great day!
I would like to send a massive thanks to Von for taking the time out to answer the questions above. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about your story. I think it is amazing that you spent some time in the Navy.
This interview was filled with so many gems and I for one am very blessed to learn from you.
When I got to "Ignoring the ignorant will get you far in tech", I had to stop typing and give that sentence a round of applause. That is the best sentence I didn't know that I needed to read. I hope many readers feel the same way.
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