You might not expect someone who has studied Media, Italian and Psychology to be looking at a career in tech. But Lexi Luo, and many others who haven’t studied computer science, are showing that it’s not only possible - tech is perfect for people from varied walks of life.
After completing her Bachelor of Arts, Lexi went travelling and then started working on various contract roles unrelated to what she studied. “I picked something that I was interested in (to study) and I really did enjoy the subject matter, but to do anything with those subjects you have to do postgrad or further and I felt like I was done with uni.”
The Wellingtonian worked in different corporate service roles that dealt with data and software management systems. As a result, she started to become more and more intrigued by tech. “Everybody uses technology but not everybody understands it,” she says. “A lot of the corporate entities I worked with had similar challenges that needed to be addressed. I wanted to improve these processes, not just within a localised unit, but on an organisational level.”
Building up her tech knowledge, Lexi started working on little projects and developing websites, but she found it quite frustrating, “The material online was very useful, but when you’re not applying it to something that fits in with what you really want to do, it doesn’t sink in as much.” Unsure of her next move, she talked with some friends who had studied computer science at uni, “There was a lot of mixed reviews, quite a few of them came out with qualifications… but some of the technical skills weren’t transferable.”
Lexi then came across Enspiral Dev Academy and decided to attend their ‘A Day in the Life’ event to find out more. It’s a full-day experience for people to see what a day at New Zealand’s only full immersion bootcamp looks like. With a focus on the human aspect of tech, Dev Academy works on developing the person, not just their technical skills. Students learn how to continue to learn after the bootcamp, enabling them to grow and change with the IT industry.
Lexi was hooked after spending the day with Dev Academy, so when she found out Skills were sponsoring Women in Tech scholarships, she jumped at the chance. Skills, New Zealand’s largest Industry Training Organisation, wanted to support Dev Academy to bridge the diversity gap in tech, and sponsored eight Women in Tech scholarships. It turns out, Lexi got her wish, “I got the call on my birthday to say I got the scholarship. Skills gave me the best birthday present, you have no idea how awesome that was!”
A month into the bootcamp, Lexi is pleasantly surprised at the focus on human skills and explains why they are so vital, “If you can’t interact well with clients, you’re less likely to understand what they need, and that is just as important as being able to deliver the technical side.”
Dev Academy CEO Rohan Wakefield notes, “We really focus on the interpersonal and creative sides of tech in our curriculum. This shows people with all sorts of different brains that web development is for them, even if they’ve never considered themselves to be “techy” before. Coding is looking at a problem and using creativity to solve it, and it’s enormously fun.”
Her highlight of the week is getting together in groups and working on projects, “There’s a big focus on group projects, which is great because it replicates real-industry situations, and this is where the creativity comes in.” Lexi explains this is the reason why more women are needed in tech, “I feel that having a female-male balance is more holistic, there are gaps in the experiences that you haven’t had, so if someone else has had those experiences, together you make a more complete picture ... and shape more creative solutions.”
The Women in Tech scholarships at Dev Academy have dramatically changed some women’s lives and given them the chance to do something they’re passionate about. Lexi believes the scholarships, “will have a flow-on effect,” and increase the visibility of women in the industry, encouraging more women to enter tech.