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Jastina, Solutions Engineer, STEMettes

What was your STEM education like?

I got questioned a lot! I would be asked “maths is challenging, are you sure? We don’t recommend this for you, what about the I.T and Business route”. Not having the support from the beginning was tough but it made me work even harder.

How did being a part of STEMettes help you?

My professor had said I needed to reach out and meet other women in STEM so that I would stop feeling like I didn’t belong there. I searched for women in tech events and found STEMettes. Honestly, if it weren’t for meeting Anne-Marie (CEO and co-founder), I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.

I always think back to meeting Anne-Marie because seeing what she’s achieved is incredible and if she can do that, then we can. There clearly are barriers but I am just going to continue doing what I can do to the best of my ability.

My sherpa, kind of like a mentor, shared with me some of the obstacles that she has faced in the industry and that’s when I realised that some of these are not going to just go away. It is all in how you manage and deal with these. Learning from her experiences, helped me not to go in blind. So instead of feeling “this is not fair, this is not right” I talk it through with my sherpa and then feel supported in how I deal with these situations.

How did you find your first job after University?

I used to be the type of person that wouldn’t put myself forward for anything, even creating a LinkedIn account was a challenge for me. But, then I got approached to be a solutions engineer. When I checked out the job spec, my initial thought was “Why me?”, but they saw I had the skills to do the job and wanted to invest in me. Without people seeing that, I don’t know where I’d be right now.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in tech?

The impact that Technology has had on the human race in such a small space of time is just incredible! For instance, if you are working in medicine you will most likely be working on something that may not affect people in your lifetime. Whereas, in technology, the work you do will have an impact on people now.

What are your top pieces of advice for a young woman interested in STEM?

• Just put the effort in and give yourself the time to prepare. It’s very easy to get anxious and stressed. So, try doing exercise and look after yourself!
• Accept that this is hard: If you are finding it hard then that is normal!
• Reach out to people – you don’t have to do it alone.
• Have a goal – focus on small milestones.
• Don’t just concentrate on your degree, spend time being aware of your basic needs and values. You have to be aware of what makes you tick as that is what keeps you going.

I think that if I don’t combat this feeling of struggling and try and do whatever I can to make a difference for the younger generation, then this feeling will be the same in 10 years’ time. The next generations that are coming up are going to be even bigger and better and I just want to break down as many barriers as I can for when it’s their turn. I guess it’s just realising that you are actually a part of something bigger.