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Jennifer opal

Junior Software Engineer, BT Group

 

And - First Women in Software PowerList April 2019 Shortlist

I love working in STEM because it allows me to be creative. I am dyslexic and dyspraxic and it is said that we tend to be more creative.

What do you do?

I work with the Test Automation Team. Test Automation involves creating scripts with programming languages, Python and JavaScript, to test out our products making sure it works perfectly before our customers use them. My job also involves data analytics so when our automated tests run, we analyse the ones that have failed and try to understand why it has failed. 

Why did you choose this field?

"As strange as it might sound for some, I felt that I had finally found my purpose."

In October 2017, I was in my second year of university when I had an opportunity to learn how to code (as well as learn what code is) through Code First: Girls. The course introduced us to Front End Web Development and at the end of the 8 week course, we had to present a group project based on what we had learnt. After all the presentations, myself and my partner won Best Project! It made me love the idea of coding even more. 

 

I've struggled to find where I fit in my past pursuing so many different types of work in many industries. I've had doors closed in my face when I have set my mind on something that I thought would suit me but once I discovered coding, the doors never closed in my face, doors just kept opening. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I was shortlisted for the UK's First Women In Software PowerList in April 2019. I'd only been officially working in tech for a month but have been blogging through social media throughout my journey. I didn't make the official list but I am so proud, honoured and humbled by this achievement. 

 

I've been through a lot in life and a significant moment was being bullied in high school. It left a huge impact on my confidence and I struggled in understanding who I was as a person as well as trying to find where I fit in the world so I would say to the younger me, "It all works out in the end."

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love working in STEM because it allows me to be creative. I am dyslexic and dyspraxic and it is said that we tend to be more creative, not sure if it is scientifically proven but I have always loved drawing, creating music and visualising the end of a task. I look forward to seeing the end result of writing lines of code. You make mistakes, sometimes it doesn't work so you try something new, sometimes you don't know where to start so you ask for help and all of these things are okay because it is how you learn and I am still learning. 

Best advice for the next generation

At your young ages, you would be surprised how inspirational you already are just by having the idea of considering learning a STEM subject. If you do decide to move into STEM, work hard, rest well and put your heart into learning STEM. Your passion will drive you to your end goal. You've got this, sis! 

Role model 

I have two! One of which is my mother. She came from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the age of 20, leaving her family behind in order for me to have an opportunity like this; to work in tech and hopefully inspire others along the way. My second role model is a man called Iddris Sandu. He's an incredible technologist who is of Ghanaian heritage. I find him an inspiration because his parents also moved from Ghana to the USA for him to have access to opportunities to grow, learn and inspire others. The connection of our starts in life reminds me that in tech, and even in STEM, there is no limit to what you can do when you use your gift of creativity which we all have!