Smart enough for STEM?

rachel-2

Back when I was doing my A-levels, I always knew I wanted a career in STEM, but I never expected to be working in financial services.

For my A-levels, I studied Maths, Business Studies and French before going on to do a Degree in IT for Business. At university, there were 40 people in my degree course intake and only 5 of us were female, so I got used to being in a male dominated environment early on.

After I graduated, I decided to give myself a break and I went travelling for 7 months. When I came back from travelling I was doing various temporary admin jobs whilst looking for permanent employment.

When I was applying for Nationwide, I initially started looking for junior project manager roles, but quickly got stuck in the trap of needing experience to get a job, but not being able to get experience without a job. I was talking to a recruitment consultant one day about the type of activities I enjoyed (Logical/methodical, technology related), and she suggested a Trainee software testing role that she was trying to fill.

The more I learnt about the role, the more I wanted it, and by the time I got to interview, I was determined the job was going to be mine!

I finally joined Nationwide Trust (the old Personal Loans Subsidiary of Nationwide); in an all-male team and they didn't really know how to act around me initially.

“ I've found that because of my chosen field of work, I do feel that I get treated differently. For example, lots of people automatically assume that I'm super intelligent (which is lovely!); they also assume I'm a bit of a geek. ”

Lots of people have told me I'm nothing like they expected me to be once we've met in person.

What I've most enjoyed about working here is the sense of satisfaction that I get when something that I've managed or completed goes well. I love having a plan and delivering to it. I also met my husband at Nationwide!

I've been able to maintain a good work-life balance, which is really important to me. I have a young son and work 4 days a week, this enables me to have more time to spend at home with my friends and family. Most of my time outside of work is spent with my family or doing DIY at home. I also enjoy watching rugby when I have a chance.

“ I think I've managed to be successful so far because of my determination and my passion for ICT. From a young age, I loved technology and computers and even taught myself how to use my Dad's computer when I was about 10. ”

I wasn't too sure what specific job I wanted to do, but I always knew I wanted to work with technology. I also like proving people's perceptions of me and my capabilities wrong.

I believe I've definitely made my parents proud. I was very fortunate to grow up with parents that were really encouraging of me and supported me to do whatever I wanted. My dad was an engineer and loves the fact that he can talk to me about technology and that I often know more about something than he does now.

My advice to any woman considering pursuing STEM education further is go for it, follow your dreams, you can reach your goals.

Be yourself, be confident and don't let the lack of females put you off.

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