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 also studied the conjoint program of computer science and commerce degrees at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), and was the president of the VUW Women in Tech (VUWWIT) society.
“I have always been interested in technology, encouraged by my dad who kept up with the latest tech. When I learned to code at school, I loved creating something new every day, and finding solutions to problems meant I was always learning something new.
“My career involves a range of things, such as contributing to the development of Koha, a library software (this includes fixing bugs, developing new features or enhancements, or doing release maintenance), consulting with clients and writing custom code for them, and giving back to my company and community in various ways. One of my favourite ways to do this is mentoring a group of high school students at the Annual Catalyst Open Source Academy.
“I find that my work in open source software fits nicely alongside Māori values, which revolve around openness, collaboration, teamwork at every stage, and the sharing of ideas and resources. I also have the honour of working with other Māori in tech who inspire and teach me every day, and help me feel connected to my Māori heritage.
“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 says anyone can work in tech and she’s passionate about opening those doors for others.
“There will be times that being Indigenous in this industry is difficult and exhausting. My advice would be to find your people, your community, and lean on them. I love the work I do, but I stick around for the amazing people I get to do that work alongside.”
“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!”
Follow Aleisha: @aleishaamohia
Aleisha’s pathway from VUW to junior developer
>> Intern, Catalyst
>> Software developer, Catalyst
This profile is brought to you in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington.
“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