Aleisha started studying Digital Technologies at school and fell in love with the challenge of it. She became technology prefect in Year 13, ran the school technology club, and did the Catalyst Open Source Academy at 15, which led to an internship with the software company and her current job as a junior developer.
She’s also studying the conjoint program of computer science and commerce degrees at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), and is the president of the VUW Women in Tech (VUWWIT) society.
“I want to meet diverse and interesting people with the same passions as me,” says Aleisha. “I want to develop myself professionally, and attend training, conferences and meetups.
“One day I would also like to improve the representation, support and opportunities for Māori students who are interested in science and technology so that more of them choose to study it at university.
“With my work with VUWWIT I want to create a space for other female students like me so they have a group that they belong to when they arrive at university.
“I want to make it easy for women, nonbinary and diverse students to connect to employers and find jobs and internships,” she says.
Find your passion
Aleisha’s dad, a former engineer, first sparked her interest in tech, and she excelled at digital technologies at school. Anyone can work in tech, she says, and she’s passionate about opening those doors for others.
“When we took a school trip to Silicon Valley, I realised the vast range of opportunities out there for tech and knew that it was the industry I wanted to work in.
“You don’t have to code or be good at maths or know how to use the command-line (or be a white guy)!” Aleisha laughs.
In her role at Catalyst, she’s been able to mentor younger students at the Catalyst Open Source Academies.
“It’s a full-on week for mentors (I probably work close to 45 hours during project week) and can be very exhausting, but working with students and seeing them learn and contribute to open source projects is so rewarding,” she says.
Another ongoing project is the Victoria University of Wellington WIT conference, WITcon.
“It’s been a huge amount of planning and marketing, and a very new experience. I’ve already learned a lot and we’re still in the process of selling tickets, but it’s definitely been my most ambitious project yet,” says Aleisha.
The conference and the VUWWIT society have both allowed the university students to branch out their connections with industry.
Her advice to students interested in computer science is to reach out.
“Find a community, whether it’s a code class or digital technologies class at school, and look out for a mentor, it gives you someone to reach out to for support and guidance. People want to help, let them. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new!”
Aleisha’s pathway from VUW to junior developer
>> Intern, Catalyst
>> Junior developer, Catalyst
“I want to make it easy for women, nonbinary and diverse students to connect to employers and find jobs and internships.”
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs