How I Learned To Code In Fourth Grade, And My Journey In STEM

Liberty Estrella, tech lead at amaysim, describes her experience as a woman in STEM.

How I Learned To Code In Fourth Grade, And My Journey In STEM

Liberty Estrella first learned to code in her fourth year at primary school, and has since then honed her knowledge and expertise to develop programs for Online Learning at TAFE and the University for New South Wales, before moving into the telecoms sector, in 2008. She joined amaysim five years ago, and is now an expert on Mobile and Broadband services, working with Optus mobile network, integrating key systems.

The following is Liberty’s first person account of her unique career journey into the tech space and her experience thus far:

What do Ada Lovelace, Susan Kare, and Grace Hopper all have in common? These are just a handful of the many inspiring women whose innovations and creativity fundamentally shaped the way we use and interact with technology today.

Yet while most of the world would identify Steve Jobs as the founder of Apple Computers, I wonder how many would know that Susan Kare was the UI (user interface) designer who worked alongside Jobs to create “iconic” interface elements that made the Macintosh more consumer-friendly?

While most of the world would identify Steve Jobs as the founder of Apple Computers, I wonder how many would know that Susan Kare was the UI (user interface) designer who worked alongside Jobs to create “iconic” interface elements that made the Macintosh more consumer-friendly?

Last month, over a thousand prolific tech leaders and professionals congregated in Sydney to hear from inspirational and like-minded women about how to supercharge their careers in tech land.

It got me reflecting on my own journey to becoming a leader in technology at amaysim – Australia’s provider of amazingly simple home utility services, and share my own advice for women considering a similar career path.

So, how did I first get into this industry? I knew I wanted to work with computers after being exposed to coding in the fourth grade. My first computer program was in ‘Logo’, an educational programming language that had a cursor in the shape of a green turtle. You could command it to create pictures or morph it into other shapes – it was very fun! I loved graphic arts and drawing comics, so being able to create something just by commanding a little turtle was the start of a long love affair with tech, which led me to a successful and fulfilling career.

In 2002, I completed a science degree in Business Information Systems at University of New South Wales, starting to develop programs and resources for online learning at TAFE and University of New South Wales. I enjoyed working in the education sector because the projects were very interesting – with innovation at the heart.

After six years in education, I moved into telecommunications in 2008 to work on systems that integrate with the Optus Mobile Network. I didn’t choose the telecommunications industry, it chose me! Some of the products I implemented included a game application that Optus used in promotional campaigns as well as a payment and customer care platform designed to process payments on behalf of Optus customers.

Five years later, I joined amaysim as a tech lead. My work here involves:

  • Ensuring my team members understand the domain fundamentals – the applications we work on can be really complex.
  • Mentoring other developers, which I think is where my experience in the education sector aligns nicely.
  • Complex problem solving to overcome the daily obstacles we face as a team.

amaysim offers incredible job satisfaction because I’m surrounded by inspirational, like-minded people and am part of a fantastic company culture. The workplace benefits, including innovation-led training programs and flexible working hours allow me to put my family first, which is super important.

My top tips for women making a career in tech would be:

  • Look after your health: Exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy work-life balance, counteract stress and ill-effects of performing sedentary work for a living…not to mention the consumption of pizza and beers at tech meetups!
  • The best way to learn is to do: Roll up your sleeves and have a go! Lots of hands-on experience is the best way to become a software engineer these days. The rise of containerisation (Operating System virtualisation) and cloud computing makes it easier to acquire practical technical experience in current technologies used in the workplace.
  • Share your knowledge and ask for feedback: The best solutions come from people working together and tackling the problem from different angles.

amaysim

The author of this post is Liberty Estrella (pictured above), amaysim Tech Lead.

Women Love Tech
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