Tag Archives: technology

the-graduate

On Becoming a Bachelor

September 2012.

I’d been made redundant several months previously and was at a bit of a crossroads as to what I wanted to do with myself.  Him Indoors had recently graduated with a BEng with a view to starting a second career as a web developer and Mini Binnie was doing well as an infant at primary school.  My husband suggested I get myself back to university after dropping out of my journalism course several years previously, but this time I should choose a subject for myself, something I knew I would enjoy as opposed to being ‘encouraged’ into journalism previously.  So I took at look at a prospectus, chose a course and applied.

October 2016 and I’m standing outside the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, having graduated with a BEng (Distinction) in Computer Systems and Networks from Edinburgh Napier University.  Hurray!

graduation

Silly hood wouldn’t stay down, but I don’t care; lookit the shiny!

I’m still on a high from the graduation ceremony.  What a wonderful feeling it was to be the centre of attention (well, myself and several hundred other graduates) and I couldn’t help but beam as I walked across the stage to shake the Chancellor’s hand and collect my certificate.  Regular readers will know that I faced a huge dilemma upon returning to university after my year at Microsoft and eventually decided to leave university after obtaining my Bachelors instead of progressing to Honours.  Sometimes I still wonder if I did the right thing, but know that ultimately it was a good decision – my heart just wasn’t in it and I wasn’t enjoying my fourth year after having such a great time during my internship.  I now have a good job with prospects and work with great people, but know that I can always return to my studies on a part time basis (an MEng does sound rather tempting).

My journey has been a little more difficult compared to the average student.  Having a young family meant I had to manage my time better than my younger, more carefree peers and didn’t socialise as often as I would have liked to, however I felt that as a mature student I had a better attitude towards my studies and was able to organise myself a lot better than I did first time round.  I did sometimes feel like a bit of a mother figure, especially in first year, however I soon found that I wasn’t the only mature student and meeting people in a similar situation made things far less daunting.

Being one of a handful of women in the School of Computing could have been a daunting prospect, but again I think being that little bit older helped.  It did get a little lonely at times, however I immersed myself in all things Connect and it was so wonderful to have a network just for women STEM students.  The various events that were held really opened my eyes to the opportunities available and how being a woman in tech doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.  I met some wonderful, inspiring women through my involvement with Connect (and Interconnect) and have made some fantastic friends.  I’m still very much in the minority at work, however the guys in my team are great and although I’m kinda loath to say this I do feel like ‘one of the lads’ (if there’s a better phrase, do let me know).

So here I am, the first person in my family to obtain a degree.  I’m at the end of a major academic journey and am very proud of what I’ve achieved.  However, I’m still mulling over the idea of doing a Masters as I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning and hope that I’ve managed to inspire some women along the way.

What does the future hold for this humble lass from a typical working class family? Watch this space.  Onwards and upwards…

Phoenix

Rise Like a Phoenix

Okay, so I’m not as gorgeous or fabulous as Conchita Wurst, but the past few months have been pretty uplifting so sorry not sorry.  A lot has happened since I last blogged back, dear reader – so much so that I regret not finding the time to blog about everything. However, there’s plenty more to come!

Hello world…

After my last post swithering whether to stick my Honours year out or not, the decision was made when my tentative investigation of the job market resulted in me landing a very nice role as a trainee cloud engineer for an Edinburgh based bank.  Sometimes I still can’t believe how lucky I’ve been – I have a great job with plenty of opportunities to progress and develop my skillset through training and certification, my boss and the team I work with are fantastic people and there’s a Costa Coffee on site.  Not many people can say they are looking forward to getting to work when the alarm goes off in the morning, so I consider myself very lucky.

I honestly thought I’d never end up in fintech, thinking it would be a bit stale and boring, but from the start I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the huge amount of thought and creativity that goes into building solid, responsive and secure banking systems with the customer very much in mind using AWS and associated automation tools.  There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

Ah yes, AWS.  After a year of Azure and the Microsoft stack, flipping over to Amazon’s offering has been two months of retraining the old noggin and revising my Linux knowhow.  Most of what we do is Linux based, but strangely enough I’ve already gotten a reputation as being the Microsoft person and am currently working on a Windows project.  It was inevitable, I suppose!

…cheerio academia

Someone asked me recently if I regret leaving university at all.

My answer?  No.

I’m still confident I made the right choice and am very happy with my BEng with distinction.  I was genuinely looking forward to my Honours project, however, which was going to be a wireless mesh network built with Raspberry Pi Zeros, but enthusiasm for my other fourth year modules was pretty much non-existent.  Most of my fellow students who also went out on placement told me they were struggling with their enthusiasm too and many of them have also found jobs and left uni.

I suspect that having to do four and a half years for an Honours degree instead of the usual four is too much for many – I also admit that I struggled with the thought of having to wait until December to finish.  We all knew that going on placement would extend our degrees, but I guess the reality and implications didn’t really hit us until we’d returned to uni.  Still, when I announced that I was withdrawing my lecturers were very supportive.

The future is bright

So, there you have it.  I’ve emerged blinking into the world of work after three and a bit years of study, clutching a degree in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other.  Mission accomplished, I reckon.  Whatever the future holds, I’m ready – my job is great, I enjoy what I do and like that phoenix I’m ready to keep rising.

Interconnect Student Champion

 

Interconnect

 

Recently I applied for the position of 2013-14 Interconnect Student Champion for Edinburgh Napier University.  I got the job; huzzah!

The job involves promoting and developing Interconnect activities and events working with staff and liaising with my fellow students.  On a more local level I’ll also be working on promoting Connect within the university with the lovely Maria, who will be representing the engineers.  As there are a few champions dotted around the country, we will be meeting several times throughout the year to discuss our collective experiences and our thoughts on how the network is developing both local and nationally.

I’m slightly nervous as the role is brand new and I want to set a good precedent for the future, however I’m also very excited as if my ideas work they might be used for years to come!  I really am looking forward to getting stuck in though and coercing encouraging more female students to get involved with the network.  My involvement with Interconnect last year was a huge confidence booster (being a female student in the School of Computing can get lonely at times) and it’s great to have such a wonderful support network to turn to, so if I can get the word out there to new and existing students Interconnect will hopefully be as beneficial to them as it is to those of us who are currently involved.  We might even be able to convince more women in study computing or engineering, which would really be fantastic.

Here’s to a successful 2013-14!

 

New year, new beginnings

Happy 2013!  Now then, that’s the formalities over and done with so I’ll get cracking with introducing myself 😉

I’m a female computing student (yes, we do exist lads) at Edinburgh Napier University, currently in my first year of a BEng (Hons) Computer Systems and Networks degree.  I’m what is known as a mature student and have a wonderful husband and daughter, so although I don’t spend as much of my student loan on booze as my younger counterparts, I have still fully embraced university life and am thoroughly enjoying myself as an undergrad.

The idea of keeping a blog to accompany my studies was first suggested by a tutor, so in addition to creating a LinkedIn profile I decided that my blog will focus on my personal take of being one of the few female students in the School of Computing, especially those of us not studying design or business related subjects.  However, we are fortunate in that there is actually quite a strong female presence in our school, which is headed by the lovely Sally Smith, and we have the Connect group which invites the female students to regular meetings for coffee, guest speakers and general discussions.

It is strange to be a member of two minority groups.  By being both female and a mature student, I was very curious as to how I would be received by the more ‘traditional’ computing student; I’m sure I don’t need to paint a picture and so I don’t offend anyone, I won’t!  However, I’ve met some lovely folks and although the younger students generally have no idea what the oldies are talking about when we start to wax lyrical about BBC Micros and Spectrums, I like to think I get on well with most in my year.

Although I’m currently on holiday and the new semester doesn’t start for another week or so, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in again.  The first semester saw most of the year taking the same modules, whereas this semester sees us starting on the more specialised modules relating to our degrees.  Sadly this means I won’t see as much of some of my friends as before, however it does mean that I will be spending more time with those on the same degree as myself.  It means I’ll be in an even smaller minority as I’m the only female on my degree course and that will be strange, but that’s the world of computing for you!