Women in Tech: Erika Myles

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo
Bolaji Ayodeji
ยทSep 28, 2020ยท

9 min read

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss any upcoming articles

Today, we have Erika Myles ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป, a Frontend Software Developer currently working at State Farm with an interest in React, aesthetically pleasing and accessible applications.

So, to compare yourself to someone who likely had a completely different path, experiences and knowledge is essentially useless. Show up for yourself daily, and give yourself some grace.

โ€” Erika Myles

In this interview, you'll learn how Erika started her career in tech, her 9 months journey so far, advice on tech, and experience at State Farm. ๐Ÿ’œ

Erika Myles's Photo

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?

Erika: My name is Erika and I am a late-career changer into tech. Minus my obligatory coding on MySpace story I first learned about careers in tech when my sister in law shared an article about careers that don't require a college degree. Most of them weren't for me but programming caught my eye. I did some research and found CodeCademy and I really loved it and I've been hooked ever since.

Can you briefly tell us about your job title?

Erika: My official job title is Software Developer. As far as what I actually do every day I work on a team of developers for a Fortune 50 company and I am responsible for maintaining and updating high traffic portions of our company website. My role is mostly UI development.

I usually start my day by checking emails and catching up with my team. After that I see what meetings I have and if I need to prep for them. I don't always have meetings but usually when I do it is to answer any technical questions our business partners may have or update them with progress on any current projects. If I am actively developing something I will find time to fit that in between morning standups and anything else I have planned for the day. If I am on call that week I will spend my day working on any tickets that need to be addressed or testing work for other developers.

What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?

Erika: The hardest part of getting into tech is narrowing down what I want to learn and stay focused. There are so much information and every source claiming to be the best it can be very hard to pick one source and stick with it before something new and shiny comes along and distracts you. It was also hard trying to find time to learn new things when working full time, having a family and kids, and at some points going to school. It can be a real balancing act at times.

I haven't overtly felt like I was not being treated as equal, but sometimes I have gotten a feeling of doubt from people. Luckily, I know that strangers' opinions are mostly irrelevant and I have a strong support group to reassure me.

If there is a bias women face, why do you think it is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?

Erika: I do think that women face a bias, the simplest explanation I can come up with is that people have insecurities and when someone touches a nerve they decide to chalk it up to some bias they have instead of just considering that someone is actually better at something than them.

I think people and companies can change this by making an effort to know and listen to people different than them. You won't learn anything if you only hire or interact with the same type of people that you always have.

You currently work as a Frontend Software Developer at State Farm. How long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?

Erika: From day 1 of coding to my hire date I'd say it took about 4 years. Now that isn't to say I was consistent and focused the whole time. In fact, my inconsistency was one of my biggest setbacks. I'd start on something, put it down for a few weeks or months, and try to pick it back up and then I would have to start all over again. At one point I was going to school for Computer Science so I put everything web development related down for around a year to focus on what I was learning at school.

At times it was extremely hard to stay motivated because I would simply be exhausted after working and then coming home and taking care of my family.

We see that you work predominately in Front-end Development. How did you decide to focus on this path?

Erika: I'm a very visual person. In school, our curriculum was Java-based, but it was so hard to wrap my mind around concepts without that visual feedback and instant gratification. I also like to fancy myself a creative and Front-end development gave me an outlet for that.

What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work as a Frontend Software Developer?

Erika: Be consistent. Even if you can only learn and practice for 30 minutes a day, those 30 minutes all begin to add up. Also, don't feel that just because others learn at a faster pace than you are doing something wrong. We all learn in our own different way and that is nothing to be discouraged about. Above all, believe in yourself. You can do this.

How long have you been in tech and what word will describe your experience so far?

Erika: I have been employed in tech for 9 months. The best word I can use to describe my experience is limitless. Every day there is something new to learn even within my own little corner of tech, and if I wanted to change my path there's an abundance of information and support available to do it. The possibilities are truly endless.

What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn a technical skill and continue learning?

Erika: Breaking down the stigma that developers are inherently smart or good at programming. Some people may have more technical aptitude than others but at the end of the day, nobody knows everything and everyone has to practice. It's okay to get confused, frustrated, and stuck and the best way to overcome those feelings is to continue learning. It's uncomfortable, but that is when you have the most growth.

Imposter syndrome is one problem developers face especially newbies, what is your experience with imposter syndrome, how did you manage yours, and what advice do you have for anyone facing this currently?

Erika: I definitely have and at times continue to have impostor syndrome. The way I managed it is to just put myself out there and learn in public. People will reassure you on the things you are doing right and help you with any areas you need help with. If you're facing imposter syndrome just try not to compare yourself to others because no two individuals are at the same point in their journey at any given time. So, to compare yourself to someone who likely had a completely different path, experiences and knowledge is essentially useless. Show up for yourself daily, and give yourself some grace.

Rejection emails are another thing that motivates imposter syndrome and depression amongst developers, especially intermediates. How did you manage this effectively during your "job-hunting" days?

Erika: I reminded myself that I have literally never done this professionally before so rejections are just going to be something I have to deal with. I also reminded myself that companies are interviewing with me just as much as I am with them, so a fit has to be two ways and if they rejected me there's a good chance that they may not have been a good fit for me as well. I think everything happens for a reason and I just looked at rejections as a way of telling me I haven't found my perfect fit yet.

What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Microsoft or Facebook.

Erika: Well, I'd say they are definitely two different ends of the spectrum. But no matter where you want to work, research the tech stack that the company uses, really think about your own experiences and knowledge both tech and non-tech related and analyze how you could benefit the company. Lastly, don't be afraid to network, who you know can be just as important as what you know as far a getting you in front of the right people.

Which of your projects are you most proud of? Can you briefly introduce us to it and why you built it?

Erika: I haven't built any personal projects in forever. The one I already most proud of is one that is still under construction but I am proud because I think it is an idea that was conceived from something I truly love (makeup). Maybe soon I'll be able to update everyone that it is finished and that I am in fact quite proud of it.

What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?

Erika: Just go for it. Whether it is a job, learning something new, or just putting yourself out there and sharing your experience, you have nothing to lose it you just go for it. The worst thing that will happen is you don't get the job or you decide something just isn't a good fit your you.

What are your favorite programming tools?

Erika: Of course, I love VS Code. I am currently working with and learning about JavaScript, and learning Ruby on the side has been quite fun!

Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?

Erika: We need more women in tech. We need women's voices, opinions, and experiences especially yours. It can seem daunting, but there are so many women and others willing to help.

Thanks for taking out time to read this interview. ๐Ÿ‘‹

This series is all about talking to the awesome women in tech, understanding the current health of the tech industry, and inspiring other women to become better. If you want to share your story, please reach out to me on Hashnode.

Did you find Erika's story useful and inspiring? Write down your thoughts in the comments section below and don't forget to share this interview. You can also follow Hashnode on Twitter to stay up-to-date with our future She Inspires interviews.

See you next time and keep trailblazing ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’™

Share this