If someone had said to me a few years back that I would be working in an IT company I would have laughed out loud!
I loved using my computer but if something went wrong I had no clue what to do. I applied to work at Sirius as I was looking for an office job so I could have my weekends back after working in retail management for 11 years. I had never heard of Open Source before let alone used any of the technologies based on Open Source so I was in for a huge learning experience.
During my first few months at Rivermead I felt like everyone around me was speaking a foreign language. I kept hearing conversations about OpenLDAP, Samba, PostgreSQL and other strange sounding technologies that meant nothing to me. I knew that if I was going to stick at this job then I was going to have to start to figure out what all of these technologies were and how they worked. I am very grateful that we have some great guys at Sirius who remained patient with me as I nagged them with all sorts of questions abut what they were doing and asking them to explain what a proxy was used for and what components made up an e mail system.
One of the great things about working for Sirius is there is a real buzz in the atmosphere as everyone here really wants to make a difference to how people use IT and educate the world about why Open Source is the clear winner. The passion that exists within the staff was infectious and I found myself wanting to get more involved in getting the message across. With my background in sales I started to learn the process at Sirius so I could have the opportunity to convince companies why they should consider using Open Source. It took me a while to find my feet as I often found myself interacting with various IT managers who understood technology a lot better than I did and I felt out of my depth on several occasions. Closing my first sale provided the encouragement to continue to learn more so I too could make a difference. I haven't looked back since.
I have been with the company now for 4 years and I still love my job. There are of course some challenges that come along with being female and choosing to work in an IT company. It is an area that is dominated by males and so if you are considering a career in IT then be aware that you may have to convince some of your colleagues some very basic rules. When I first started at Sirius there were sweaty clothes hanging in the toilets, empty hardware boxes everywhere, desks buried under piles of paper and no air freshener in the toilets. I had to battle with the guys to get them to put cups in the dishwasher, to help keep the office tidy and try to persuade some people not to answer the phone with a grunt rather than a hello. I was known as the office nag but I soon found that if I wanted something done then there are a few things that most engineers find hard to resist- biscuits and chocolates! I had my own personal stash of bribes so if I needed help with a sales proposal or I had managed to break my laptop for the umpteenth time then all I had to do was place a chocolate bar on their desks. I now have a list of each engineers favourite snack so I know they cannot say no to me.
I still have a lot to learn but I have to say that being at work is never boring. There is always something new to learn as technology is constantly changing. There is always a new battle to be fought and a new debate to be had. If you are considering working in an IT company then I highly recommend it, just make sure you have a great team who are willing to take the time to explain things to you in a way that makes sense.