This week we’re introducing you to Natasha Munasinghe, Coder Academy’s current ‘Women In Tech’ recipient in Sydney.
Hi Natasha! First thing’s first, what were you doing before Coder Academy?
I qualified as a solicitor and after that was running my own HR and training business for the last few years.
Why did you want to get into technology, and more specifically, coding?
I love that with coding you are empowered and equipped to build something from nothing and then share that creation with the world. Tech is playing an important role in most aspects of our lives these days, and I wanted to be able to participate actively in these changes, instead of watching from the sidelines. The challenge of getting beyond my comfort zone has been incredibly fulfilling.
Why did you choose to join the Fast Track?
I enjoy the intensive 7 month, in-person approach to learn coding. The community of people I have studied with have been truly collaborative, supportive and we have built some great friendships. I value the Diploma we get at the end of the course as well as the internship we are provided with.
Tech is playing an important role in most aspects of our lives these days, and I wanted to be able to participate actively in these changes, instead of watching from the sidelines.
How did the Women In Tech Scholarship help you get to where you want to be?
The Women In Tech Scholarship was a great reassurance that women are valued by the tech industry. It demonstrates that women have a valuable role to play and that there are so many opportunities for women to participate in this industry. Going forward, I hope to use this platform to get more and more women involved in and confident with tech. The future is wide open and that is exciting!
What do you enjoy most about your experience at Coder Academy? How did it compare to previous study you’ve done?
This has definitely been the most challenging course I have undertaken so far — but also the most enjoyable and fulfilling. I enjoy the fact that we apply our learning through building actual websites in the various tech stacks we learn (HTML/CSS, Rails and MERN). We get to learn from industry mentors and build some great professional relationships.
We can all speak the language of tech if we’d like to — and more women and diversity of thought, opinion and experience is something I’d love to see more of in tech.
Where do you imagine yourself in 1 year from now?
I would hope to be much more confident and technically more competent in my coding skill set and working towards future senior tech roles. I hope that I get to work with a world class team that is building things that makes the world a little better. I would also aim to have taken on more personal projects to keep things interesting and to keep growing.
One of the biggest challenges, speaking personally, both as a woman in tech but also as a woman of colour in tech is that we sometimes self-select out of this industry or don’t back ourselves as much as we should.
Where do you think the biggest challenges and opportunities are for women wanting to make their mark in technology right now?
The biggest opportunity for women in tech is that there are so many ways to get involved and to teach ourselves; the barriers to entry are low in that sense. We can all speak the language of tech if we’d like to — and more women and diversity of thought, opinion and experience is something I’d love to see more of in tech.
One of the biggest challenges, speaking personally, both as a woman in tech but also as a woman of colour in tech is that we sometimes self-select out of this industry or don’t back ourselves as much as we should. We may not value the contribution we bring. This was certainly something I found myself doing for awhile. I have since learnt that if we build and create a future that is truly representative of us as women — then we as women must take a seat at the table and one of the key skills to enable us to do this is the power of code.
Are you optimistic about the future for women in tech? Why?
I am absolutely optimistic about the future of women in tech because it’s an industry (from my experience so far) that is incredibly welcoming and collaborative. It’s one where, people see the value of teams and collaboration and I think women can have a massive role to play here.
…if we build and create a future that is truly representative of us as women — then we as women must take a seat at the table…one of the key skills to enable us to do this is the power of code.
What skills from your previous career have been valuable during this experience?
Being in tech is not purely about being technically competent; your ability to get along with people, communicate and bring a creative approach to problem solving is just as important. Equally important is your attitude to learn. These skills I believe I bring from my past experiences and has been a compliment to the technical skill set required throughout this experience.
What advice would you give to women considering becoming developers?
Like Nike’s old slogan — “Just Do It!”. I am actively trying to encourage my own friend circle of women to start getting curious and play with code — even if it’s just looking at free online courses, or YouTube as a starting point. This is hands-down one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
Any last pearls of wisdom you want to share?
The first few months when I was learning code, were the hardest. I had no previous experience with coding or computer science; so I had to learn the foundations, as well as the language itself at the same time which for me was very taxing.
There were moments where I did question if my brain would ever “get it”. It’s important that if you hit these walls you just keep going. You have to trust that after a while it will actually start to make sense, especially when you recognise the patterns and once the foundations of knowledge are established.
This is hands-down one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
Once you get your head around the first coding language, the second etc all starts to make more sense I feel and you do pick it up a little quicker. It’s important to not let the doubts get the better of you when you start and just to keep persisting with it.
Thank you, Natasha!
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