Software Developer, Chantell Osejo never dreamed that she would be a woman in technology. It came as a complete surprise.
“If you had told me five years ago that I was going to be in IT, and a programmer, I would have laughed” – Chantell
Coming from a small town in Tennessee, the opportunities in technology were limited. In her high school, the only computer classes offered were a basic keyboarding class and the occasional Dreamweaver course. None of her teachers suggested technology as a possible career path.
“Nobody ever suggested tech to me. Lots of [other] female dominated fields were the typical thing,” she says. “It wasn’t frowned upon necessarily; it’s just no one ever said, ‘have you considered this?’ “
At home, her mother wasn’t too fond of computers and limited Osejo and her siblings’ access to them. Her father was a different story.
“My dad always had been pretty much tech-oriented. He built computers with us when we went to visit him and we’d play on the internet.”
Osejo soon discovered Neopets and made her first foray into programming, although minor, by dabbling in HTML so she could make her Neopet town pages. Still, a career in computers never dawned on her.
FROM VET TO TECH
After high school, she enrolled in the Rochester Institute of Technology anticipating a career in veterinary medicine.
But, a funny thing happened.
Osejo found that she hated all of the classes in her major, but did have an intense interest in math, science, and logic. She took a career assessment to determine if the career she’d chosen was the best path for her. Her fiancé (who was a friend at the time) suggested that, with her interests, she may enjoy computer science.
Then, the results of her career assessment came back. The assessment ranked science at the bottom and computer science and technology at the top. Osejo promptly switched majors. She remembers calling her mother with the news of her new found career goals.
“Her response was, ‘are you kidding me,’ “she laughs. ‘You must have lost your mind. You are going to be so miserable!’ It was probably a shock for her. It was a shock for me, too. “
FROM SHOCK TO BLISS
Osejo began exploring computing; originally starting with networking and systems administration. She took on internships in the field. During her second internship she was doing mobile development and fell in love with the mobile operating system and building apps.
Today, Osejo has found her bliss as an Android Developer for Glympse, a start-up based in Seattle. Glympse is an app that allows the user to share her location in real time with people of her choosing for a specific amount of time. The user can send a Glympse to let someone know she is going to be late or to follow her to her destination. A Glympse can be accessed from any platform.
Osejo explains her role at Glympse this way: “I own our Android customer facing platform app in its entirety. I build. Right now we are going through a re-design, for example. And, I’m tasked on occasion with implementing features as part of our partnerships. So, hypothetically, I might build a car mode UI that may be set up in your vehicle.”
Osejo truly enjoys her job!
“I kind of feel guilty talking to people who are not in the tech industry about how much fun I have at my job.”
START-UP OR CORPORATE
Before her time at Glympse, Osejo was a Software Integrator at financial services company, USAA. She found the culture there much different from that of a start-up. She says that at a big corporation you get a small slice of whatever application or product you’re working on; making you an expert on that particular thing.
A start-up culture is the polar opposite of that.
“I have so much freedom sometimes,” she says. “If I want to implement a feature and I have time; I can do it.”
When asked what she likes most about her job she says, “Oh, the creative aspect. Hands down!”
She says a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that programming is all about logic and math. It is an important piece of the job, but about eighty to ninety percent of programming is creative.
“You’re creating something. You’re building something. You’re fitting together the pieces of the puzzle,” she says. “Especially, if you’re designing. You’re building an experience.”
WOMEN AND TECH
Osejo would really like to see more women choose technology as a career. (When she graduated from college in 2012 there was only one other woman in her IT major.)
She gives back by volunteering with younger women and girls. Tutoring middle school kids in technology and leading an exhibit at a science fair designed to encourage girls to pursue technology and science, sponsored by Girls Inc., are just two examples of how she is giving back.
She feels that opportunities are wide-open for girls and women just starting out in technology as well as career changers who want to pursue technology. She has met people with backgrounds in art and history who now work happily in technology.
“The opportunities are great,” she says. “No matter where your personality is on the spectrum, you can find the right fit for you. Whether that’s a start-up mentality where you are able to drive the direction of the company or whether that’s corporate where you can be a piece of the bigger picture and really see how your bit interlocks with everything else that’s out there. There’s something for everyone.”
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