Hi Lorna! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about you?

Hey and thanks for having me! I’m Lorna from Leeds and work as a Software Engineer at IRIS. My role is payroll focused. I’ve been in the development industry for 6+ years and I’m super passionate, ambitious and love data analysis (including spreadsheets!). I enjoy writing documentation, horror films and trying my best to keep my succulents alive.

How and why did you first get into software development? Particularly as you found it at a young age and knew it was something you wanted to pursue at university?

I’ve always loved computers and did IT part of my GCSEs. There wasn’t a spark as such where I thought ‘wow I must do that’, but I feel at the time I had an interest in knowing how things worked on a computer. From high school I went to college for 2 years and got a Software Development National Diploma, that was my first taste of programming. There was 1 other woman in the class. From there, I went to Huddersfield university for 4 years (including placement year) and got a BSc (Hons) Computing. I was the only woman. In my 3rd year I was lucky enough to have a placement for a year as a Software Developer. Again, the only woman. Since graduating (2015) I’ve been in a few developer roles and in that time have worked with 2 women QA at separate roles, and yet to work with another woman dev.Based on my experiences, I’ve never felt disadvantaged purely because I’m a woman in tech.

What are your favourite learning resources? I see from your LinkedIn you want to learn mongodb, docker next, where is the best place for resources to learn them?

I learn best by seeing them doing. Recently, I’ve been learning docker via Pluralsight and really enjoying it. There isn’t a specific resource I use generally, my pattern tends to be to look for a basic example on how something is used, understand it, then replicate it for myself, see it work and look through documentation.

How did you decide what tech stack to work with?

Predominantly I’ve worked with C# and SQL since university, it just stuck. For a while now, I’ve been exploring other tech stacks such as: Angular 11, Node.js and docker. I’m a keen learner so enjoy having a play with different bits.

What advice would you give people just starting in software development to find what works for them?

Firstly, welcome to a wonderful and fulfilling industry. I would recommend to build your own portfolio site and use it to showcase the best version of yourself. Be active with side projects and in that giving yourself opportunities to learn new skills and improve existing ones. Coming up with a project can be difficult, for me I’ve always thought about 1) something useful 2) passionate about.

I started a blog with main reason being to have my thoughts written down, if I’ve learned something new/exciting I write it down, solutions to weird problems - also write it down. The blog is useful for me to look back on, particularly if I forgot how to do something and then at least I know I can look back. I’m hopeful it can help my readers too. Bonus. Starting a blog can be tricky too, a good start could be to talk about your journey.

Going back to your portfolio site, focus on your strong points, display your side projects, blog posts and info so your readers know more about you.

Be adaptable, curious and challenge yourself.

You do a lot of mentoring outside of work, what motivates you to be such an active member of the tech community?

I want to be the best person I can be (both professionally and personally) and in doing so continuously challenging myself. As well as mentoring, I have a career coach/mentor I meet with weekly, currently an instructor on a course teaching girls to code SQL, side project galore and have done 2 speaking events. I thrive off challenging myself.

Where do you see yourself and your career taking you in the next 5 years? What's your dream?

I’m currently a mid and would love to work my way up to top level of developer - I think it’s principle where I’m working. Management is also an option, only recently mind! Career progression is important to me. Absolutely to continue developing, forever and always, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

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