I work in a university, taking the ideas in people’s heads and putting them on computers. I do this so everyone can learn from one another and make the world a better place. For example, I developed a streaming service (think Netflix) for educational videos and an award-winning online questionnaire for people with speech and language difficulties.
It took me 10 years to start this STEM journey. Why it took me so long to take that first step, I can only attribute to not knowing it was an option. I studied psychology applied to IT and I’ve always been interested in STEM. But my 60 year old guidance counsellor (who happened to be a nun) wasn’t much help in steering me in STEM’s direction.
A few years ago I was working as an Educational Designer at the University of Sydney, helping to enhance student learning. Over time I became increasingly frustrated with the educational technology we were using. So a couple of years ago I decided to learn to code so I could build the webapps we really need.
We definitely need more women working in STEM. But I think a lot of people are waiting for someone to come along and recognise their hidden talent. You really need to be your own advocate. You need to try different things, find out what you’re good at, and then let everyone know. I couldn’t skate to save my life but I gave it a go and three years later I was captaining the Australian Roller Derby team at the World Cup. We took home the bronze medal – fun times! It turns out I have a mean buttpunch on me. It’s a thing. You punch people with your butt!
If you’re trying to figure out what to do, my advice would be to try before you buy. STEM is so vast and there are lots of ways to try on a career for size. Have an open mind. Realise you can change it up whenever you want. The world has a huge need of people with a combination of skills, so go learn all the things, twice!
Sonya is speaking at the upcoming Women in Technology Australia summit, where over 40 tech stars are coming together to talk about everything from tech trends and leadership lessons to dream jobs and the power of saying ‘Yes’. Meet another Women in Tech speaker, Flavia D’Alo.
Sonya’s path to becoming a digital innovation manager
>> Undergraduate degree in Psychology
>> Web Development Bootcamp
>> Digital Innovation Manager, The University of Sydney