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Uni, TAFE or teach yourself — the many paths to a rewarding tech career

Google software engineer and musician Meredith Lane started her study with a Certificate IV and says there’s a tech career path for everyone

At school, Meredith loved the guitar and was keen on a Bachelor’s degree in music, until she missed the auditions to compete for a spot!

Today, not only is she a musician, she has a rewarding STEM career as a software engineer at Google where she also gets to look after the music room — proof you can always find a way to do what you love even if it initially seems out of reach.

Meredith tells her story on Future You’s Pathfinders, a site full of inspirational stories of people working with STEM skills to make the world a better place.

“There’s always a pathway, just don’t panic,” Meredith says.

“Even when you do something as seemingly catastrophic as not getting your application in time and not turning up to your audition, there’s still a pathway.”

Having discovered samplers and synthesizers in her guitar playing, Meredith was interested in the technical side of music, so she enrolled in a Certificate IV in Music Technology.

“It was actually really great because it meant I only had to do one year before deciding whether to commit to a full degree,” Meredith says.

When she went onto a degree in music technology, Meredith was exposed to coding for the first time and decided to enrol in a software engineering degree. Once again she found herself without the requirements the uni wanted.

“They still expected me to have done high-level maths and high-level physics, both of which I did not do in high school.

“But they had options for me. I did a six-month bridging course in summer school, which was actually awesome.”

Meredith did six weeks of intensive maths. “It sounds terrible, but it’s actually the best way to learn maths when you don’t have to think about anything else,” she says.

WATCH: Meredith tell her story

In her gig at Google, Meredith has worked on a variety of different projects, including enhancing the web platform for people with disabilities, merging her passions for technology and inclusivity.

And she says working in tech means continuously learning.

“If you’re working in STEM you will kind of end up doing lifelong learning…everything changes so quickly and there’s a new standard all the time. And it’s kinda what you need to do to keep up.”

“The great thing with computer science is you can go to university or TAFE, or teach yourself how to use a programming language.”

Meredith also says she works with lots of people at Google who came to tech from different sectors like health or another STEM area like chemistry or electrical engineering.

“I think as long as you have a little bit of drive, there will be a pathway for you.”

You can see more stories like this one on the Future You website.

This post is brought to you in partnership with the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador. 

For more inspiring stories like Meredith’s, along with useful resources for parents and teachers, sign up to the Future You newsletter.

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