My name is Nicole Young and I am a developer and freelancer based in Pennsylvania, USA. I got into tech after I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology. I was planning on accepting an offer for a PhD but instead was given the opportunity to go to Malaysia for a year for an academic grant to teach English. When I returned, I wanted to continue to pursue opportunities where I could be more hands on and found a job at a tech startup. I learned so much in the two year that I was there and was introduced to coding and resources that inevitably helped me to teach myself development and start freelancing.
1.What is your specific area of STEM?
I am a technologist. Not only am I a developer but I also pay attention to the trends, patterns and practices of the industry. I think that it is important to do that no matter the field.
2.How would you explain your STEM field?
I use my skills to help people build an online presence so that they can reach the people that they want to help. I build websites and provide other services to help people make a good impression online.
3.What made you choose this STEM discipline? Were you inspired by someone?
I was inspired by the work that I was doing in my first job and inspired by all of the new things that I was learning. I chose Tech because it felt right to me. It was where I felt like I could make the largest impact.
4.What’s the best way to enter your field?
No matter what age you are right now there are ways that you can start getting in to tech and coding right now! There are lots of games and websites geared toward helping young people understand how to code and build the problem solving skills that they need to be successful at it. Take some time to explore the websites and social media platforms that you are on everyday and learn a bit about how they are made. It will definitely amaze you!
5.What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
Anything that you can access on the web right now was built by someone with a development or engineering skill set, Developers like me work each day to create the cool websites, software, games and social media platforms that we all know and love!
6.What keeps you going in your profession?
Keep a steady habit of learning is important and keeps me going. Also staying curious and wanting to push myself to create new and awesome things keeps me interested in what I do.
7.What are your future career goals?
I would like to start my own organization where I help other women and people of color learn new tech skills for free where they can be placed in jobs that will give them new opportunities to learn a high paying skill.
8.What is the biggest challenge you face as a woman in stem?
It can feel lonely at times. I am often the only woman of color in the spaces that I am in and it can feel isolating and discouraging. There is also things like imposter syndrome (not feeling like I belong or am qualified enough to do what I do) and the feeling that I have to prove myself to those around me more than everyone else does. Those all can take a toll on you mentally and emotionally, which can make it tough to move forward sometimes.
9.What message would you like to give to our young readers?
Stay curious and focused on your goals. Experiment and never be afraid to try new things. I think there is a lot of pressure on young people to have their lives figured out before they entered the real world and I want whoever is reading to know – that’s not true! It will take time but keep chasing the things that fill you with joy and fire because those things will lead you to what is best for you!
Thank you for reading our eighth STEM Up interview! To know more about what Nicole is up to, follow her journey at @nicole.young
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We are nearing the end of STEM Up season 1 but want to get your story featured for season 2? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time!