Danielle Allan (Carroll) is a core Systems Engineer for EMC Federal Division. She began her career in IT with an internship at 17 years old, went on to major in Information Science at Christopher Newport University, then worked at Northrop Grumman and CSC before beginning her EMC career in 2010 through the Global Services Associate Program (GSAP). You can find her on twitter @DanielleAllan12 (sometimes she’s funny).
Advice for Young Women Interested in IT (Guest Blog by Danielle Allan)
As a (relatively) young woman in the IT industry I am often asked “do you have any advice for my daughter/niece/friend’s daughter/etc. who is interested in going to school for/a career in technology?” This particular industry can be daunting to a young woman as it is typically male-dominated. Once you’re in it, though, it really isn’t all that scary and is actually pretty accepting.
My best piece of advice would be: just go for it! If you have an interest in, and passion for, technology you will fit right in no matter who you are.
The biggest issues I hear are that: 1) young women don’t feel that they fit in to the IT nerd spectrum, nor do they want to; and 2) it’s hard to break into the “old boys club.”
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the IT industry grew up (or even spent any time at all) chugging Mountain Dew and eating Doritos in his or her parents’ basement while hosting LAN parties and hacking into things.
The “nerd” or “geek” stereotype is not something that you have to conform to in order to be successful. Sure, a lot of us are nerds. My twitter bio proudly proclaims that there’s “no shame in my nerd game,” but that’s because I choose to identify with that part of my personality. I’m also a sorority alumna who plays sports in my free time and has never attempted to hack into anything.
Every industry has its own version of geekdom: when all is said and done, a “geek” is just someone who is really passionate about what they do. The “nerd spectrum” can be expanded, bent, and changed. Challenge it. Defy it. Make it your own.