Come Sit With Us: 3 Career Stories from Women in Tech
October 5, 2017 | Express Scripts
The inspiration to choose a career in technology could come from anywhere. It could start by taking a challenging college course, playing with an old computer or being inspired by parents who work in the field. No matter what sparks the interest, technology benefits when women and men contribute and implement ideas together. That’s why Express Scripts is partnering with the Sit With Me campaign to encourage women in tech to tell their career stories.
We sat down with three rock star women on our technology team to hear about their career progressions. Here’s what they had to say:
How did you choose a career in technology?
Karri Bach, senior director, Digital Engineering: I always had an interest in electronics and technology. My parents encouraged me with techie toys like electronic wiring kits. When I was in second grade I used it to wire a burglar alarm on my bedroom door to keep my sister out of my room. During my first year at Mizzou, I took an Excel-based accounting course where I learned to write macros and was hooked. I changed my degree to Computer Science the next semester.
Renee Durr, senior software development engineer, Digital Engineering: When I was around 10 years old, my mother bought an old IBM computer. I was so fascinated that playing with it became a part of my daily routine. After high school I joined the military. My ASVAB scores were high, but the computer field was closed. I was determined and decided to take night courses. After my military term ended, I pursued a degree in Computer Technology at night while working as a secretary. One day all of the secretaries received new computers, but they stayed in the boxes for weeks. I decided to set up my computer. Word spread, and I was asked to set up the others. The Data Processing manager was impressed and offered me a job. From that day forward, I have been blessed to continually progress in this field. Even with 24 years of technology experience, there continue to be challenges. But I’ve decided that failure is not an option!
Jeanette Rushford, associate programmer analyst, Digital Engineering: My mom worked as a computer programmer and my father was a network administrator, so I grew up around computers and role models working in the field. My parents encouraged me to go into computer science. I studied International Human Rights and then started a career in Study Abroad, which is where I implemented new study-abroad software. I realized then that I wanted to pursue a technical career. I went back to school to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. One month before I finished my degree, I was recruited for a programmer position. The rest is history!
What advice would you give to women interested in a career in technology?
Karri: There are websites like freecodecamp.org and egghead.io where women can get started with self-study. LaunchCode is a St. Louis program that trains people of all genders and places them into paid apprenticeships with local companies. We’ve hired close to 60 incredibly talented engineers from the LaunchCode program in our St. Louis and Franklin Lakes offices. If you are not in the St. Louis area, search online for local boot camps and technical training programs.
Renee: If you have a desire to be in the technology field, let nothing stop you. Challenges will come. Be persistent in what you believe and you will succeed.
Jeanette: Don’t doubt yourself! You will not understand everything right out of the gate or even further along in your career because there is always a ton to learn. That continuous exploration is the nature of the field. If you find yourself as a curious problem solver who likes to think analytically, this would be a great career for you.
How do women bring additional thinking or perspective to technology?
Karri: Diverse teams are more likely to avoid the group-think trap. Teams that include women have been shown to solve problems more effectively and innovate better than single-gender teams. And it goes beyond gender ― we’re building technology products for people of all walks of life. Having diverse teams allows us to build solutions that are more creative, have broader appeal and reach more people.
Renee: There is a study that suggests that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. I believe this to be true. If you’re in a room with a group of men, more than likely they are thinking the same way. A woman in that same group can offer feedback from a different perspective. My day-to-day interactions cause me to believe that we think differently, but we complement one another. Diversity in the workplace is extremely important. We can be a great team together.
Jeanette: We offer the female perspective when designing new products that women will consume, especially in the healthcare industry and women’s health field. Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, we bring diversity and a woman’s perspective to projects.
Interested in bringing your perspective to our technology team? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.
Oh, and if you’re attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, stop by and see us! We’ll be at booth #3051!« From Supermarket Cashier to Coder| Bringing Hope and Help to Haiti »