VinSolutions recently welcomed Kansas City Women in Technology, a grassroots organization helping to grow the number of women in technology careers in Kansas City, into our office for their first ever ngGirls event. More than 100 participants took over the VinSolutions office for a weekend web development workshop for women using Angular, an open-source web technology framework developed by Google. In addition to teaching women introductory skills in this popular framework, ngGirls also aims to introduce women to the world of technology and increase diversity in the field around the world.
Two VinSolutions team members, Software Engineer II Margaret Brown and Senior Software Test Engineer Julie Lindsey, volunteered at the event, and we caught up to them to hear all about it and learn more about what it’s like to be part of Kansas City’s community of women in tech.
Tell us a little bit about what you do at VinSolutions every day.
Margaret Brown: We’re gearing up to take on a new project right now, so it’s rare that any two days are alike. I can say that it’s been a lot of learning and planning! It’s been challenging, but I have a great opportunity in front of me to learn a new part of the business and in the long run, contribute meaningful work. In short, I do the same thing all devs do every day: solve problems.
Julie Lindsey: I work with the team responsible for the Cox Common Customer platform. On a typical day, I run automated tests and review results and create new tests for the work in development. Since Cox Automotive uses a Café software lifecycle, I also spend a good amount of time working with developers and product staff planning for the next “cool thing” we want to deliver.
Why did you participate in this ngGirls event?
MB: The Kansas City Women in Technology community an incredible resource for people who identify as women to be brought in and brought up in the KC tech community. Whatever your level of interest or experience is, there’s a safe place to plug in and find support. As a lot of us know, it can be incredibly difficult to be the lone woman in a meeting or on a team – and knowing that there’s a community of people who understand that experience is invaluable.
I wanted to participate in this event because, so far in my career, I’ve always been in the role of the mentee. But part of moving up in your field is learning how to reach a hand back and pull others along with you. This event is basically me starting to learn how to do that in small ways, while doing what I can to contribute to my community.
JL: I just wanted to support my fellow ladies in all they do to guide others in the technology field. The field is ever-shifting, and there are always things you have not been exposed to yet. So it is almost necessary to have a support group to remain on solid footing.
What do you personally find most valuable about these types of events?
MB: The solidarity of knowing how many other people feel just like you. Isolation has a way of tricking people into thinking that they have no power. When we get a chance to share stories of common experiences and see that we’re part of a bigger picture – it empowers people to more effectively advocate for themselves.
JL: I value the opportunity to meet new people and build a network.
What do you like about working at VinSolutions?
MB: I love the culture. There is a solid culture here of trust, learning, growing and investing in people. I feel like in contrast with other places I’ve worked, VinSolutions recognizes that people are their most valuable resource, and it shows. I get to work with some of the smartest and most fun people in the industry – and they’re people who want to teach and mentor and push me to be my best. It’s just a completely different mindset here than I’ve seen before. Instead of “let’s see how much productivity we can wring out of this person,” there’s very much an atmosphere of “let’s see how much this person is capable of when we give them the tools to succeed.” And the results are incredible.
JL: I enjoy the new opportunities to learn. While being here, I have expanded my skills in automated testing, and I am currently studying for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam.
There is also a good mix of men and women working here, so you don’t feel like “the woman” on the team. Diversity is something Cox Automotive and VinSolutions strive for, and you see it in the engineering staff.
What is your advice to other women interested in a career in technology?
MB: Advocate for yourself. It’s so important. You have to know your rights, your resources and your context to be able to navigate the challenges that will inevitably arise. Know your worth, know your value and find somewhere to work that agrees. If at all possible, a female mentor is an invaluable resource. We all deal with these situations, and talking to someone who’s been there is so helpful.
JL: Never let anyone tell you a personality trait is who you are or that being “assertive,” “strong,” or “opinionated” is always a bad thing. Learn your stuff, support your views, compromise where needed and keep moving forward.
Interested in joining Margaret and Julie as a VinSolutions team member? Check out our current career opportunities here.