The life of a Software Engineer can be a rollercoaster. There are so many positives that come with working in tech, but as with any job, there are always challenges.
We recently spoke to Lidia De La Cruz, (@poderosacoding) an Afro-Latina woman based in New York, about her career as a Software Engineer and the journey she has taken from a young age to get to where she is now. From working in education to being inspired by a CNBC episode, here’s what she had to say.
What has your career journey been like so far?
I never knew what I wanted to do as a career. I had various ideas and one of them was to become a nurse; I’ve always wanted to help people through my job, and naturally I leaned towards a career in healthcare. Once I’d started college, I realized nursing wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I pivoted to psychology as it was one of the classes I enjoyed the most.
Shortly after I still couldn’t find my place, and psychology didn’t feel the right fit for me either. I decided to explore working with children in a school setting. I moved into education and spent 6 years working within school operations taking up several roles along the way.
I found myself inspired by a CNBC Millennial Money episode which featured a woman called Bukola. I was in awe of her story as a black woman, who navigated her way into tech without a degree or any previous experience. This really resonated with me, and software engineering came naturally to me when I started looking into tech careers.
During the episode, Bukola spoke on the need for more women of color in tech and I felt that this was my calling to start a new career in a space where there is a high need for Engineers.
I was instantly curious once I started to look into Engineering careers and felt like I needed to undergo the challenge of learning how to code. The possibility of being able to create a tool that can change the lives of others really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and pursue software engineering.
How did you learn/train as a Software Engineer?
My learning journey was through a coding bootcamp. I needed structure and a community of people who could help me during my journey and after looking at a few different options, a coding bootcamp was the best fit for me.
Are there any similarities or transferable skills from your previous careers?
There are many transferable skills that we all carry, regardless of whether this is through different careers or from our professional to personal lives. For me, working in education allowed me to grow my confidence in becoming a better public speaker and presenter, this is a skill most of my colleagues say they struggle with. It’s a skill they also say they admire about me, and I utilize this and recognize, as a team player when I need to facilitate a meeting and step in to help.
Do you have other areas of interest within software engineering?
I have a genuine interest in working with DEI initiatives and programs to help more women of color navigate their way into tech, I also have a curiosity with AI and Machine Learning as these are current trends in tech that most companies are integrating into their products.
There’s always a new skill to learn in tech, which is why I love it so much.
What’s next for Lidia, your career and what do you want to pursue next?
This is something I am currently exploring and figuring out. I'm currently deciding where I see myself next, and whether it's still in the software engineering space or do I branch out to do advocate work within tech. I am still undecided but one thing I’m sure of is that I want to make a difference. I want to make changes in tech and I know I am needed to help support other women of color as they navigate this space.