It's the beginning of the month and this means that tupu.io it's happy to present a new story in the series My Tech Journey. This month the guest is Anna Ossowski, our dear friend, advisor and mentor who is with tupu.io since the beginning.
Anna will talk about her journey in tech despite no STEM background, how she got passionate about writing code and how she switched to a no coding role.
What do you currently do for work?
I'm a Senior Community Program Manager for new user onboarding and retention on the GitHub Community Engagement Team.
What is your educational background?
I got my bachelor's degree in English and Catholic theology and wanted to become a High School teacher originally. Before dabbling in teaching, I studied a semester of psychology and sociology but found that it wasn't for me.
When and how did you get started being interested about programming/tech industry, and how did you learn?
I started in late 2013. I was done with my B.A. and didn't quite know what I wanted to do with my life as I questioned teaching being the right career choice for me. That was when a friend of mine, who was a Python programmer, encouraged me to learn coding. I didn't think I could do it but he assured me it was just like learning a language, and so I gave it a try and took a free Python class on Codeacademy. I attended PyCon US 2014 in Montreal thanks to a financial aid grant by the Python Software Foundation, and later that year I was an attendee at the very first Django Girls workshop in Berlin. The rest is history :)
Which books/online courses/websites were helping you the most on your journey?
Codeacademy (codecademy.com) and Coursera (coursera.org) were great tools for me when I started learning as they were free and easy to access. I'm also a huge fan of the Django Girls tutorial (tutorial.djangogirls.org) as it's super fun and teaches you the fundamentals of web development in one day.
Mentorship to me is coaching, it's friendship, therapy. It's an essential part of my career and life as a whole.
How has mentorship played a role in your tech career?
I attribute a lot of my career success to the mentors who helped me along the way, dedicating a lot of time and energy. I learned to ask for help early on, even if it wasn't easy to do and I felt like a total noob. I remember my beginner programming days sitting on video calls with my friend Ian for hours, explaining APIs to me and helping me debug something I had messed up in git. My friends Trey and Jeff providing career advice and helping me get on the right path making sure I didn't undersell myself. My current mentor Tim, who helps me navigate difficult situations at work and taught me that I don't need to accept everyone's feedback and to approach things with kindness and a good sense of humour. Mentorship to me is coaching, it's friendship, therapy, and so much more. It's an essential part of my career and life as a whole.
There are a lot more career paths in tech than just programming
What do you wish you had known when you started your career in tech? What advice would you give your younger self?
There are a lot more career paths in tech than just programming. You may love programming but you don't have to do it as a job. I still have a soft spot for all things code but I also love working with people, hence me going into the Community and Developer Relations field. Take your time and explore different career paths and different opportunities in tech.
The hardest part is getting started and we often overthink that part
What would you recommend to someone who is interested in starting with coding/designing/managing, but doesn't know exactly where to start?
Just do it! That may sound silly but the hardest part is getting started and we often overthink that part. Pick a free online tutorial and finish it. After you learn some fundamentals, think of a project you want to work on and try to figure out how to implement your idea. Don't get stuck following endless online tutorials, get practice early on. Join a local meetup group such as PyLadies or a local Python user group and attend their events regularly: network, meet people, immerse yourself in learning, challenge yourself.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What are you curious about?
I moved to London 4 years ago and my biggest hobby is still being a tourist in London. Even after a few years in the city, I still have such a long list of things to see and do: I enjoy exploring parks, museums, attending the theatre and musicals, finding street art gems, meeting people from different walks of life. I equally love travelling, spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, and organising the PyLadies London meetup.
I learned a lot from my regular chats with my mentee
Why did you decide to sign up as a mentor/mentee for tupu.io? What has your experience been?
I believe in paying it forward: I have a lot of awesome mentors in my life, and so I wanted to provide the opportunity of mentorship to someone else. My experience of mentoring with tupu.io has been amazing and has brought me a lot of joy. I learned a lot from my regular chats with my mentee, I was able to share some knowledge and resources, and guide her through challenging situations at work, and I'm happy to share that she recently got promoted!