I am like you!

First off thanks for the shout out Lily Chen! I too came to tech from a non-traditional background.

I went to university to become a Math Teacher, more on that here. I didn’t take my first computing course until my third year in university, at which point I fell in love with it.

Out of the 40 courses I took for my BSc, 25 were in mathematics, 8 were mix of humanities and social sciences, only 7 were in computing. Fortunately, I was able to get three paid internships as a software developer after my third year of university. This is really where I got most of my computing experience and it is also where I discovered and fell in love with cybersecurity.

This lead me to get a master’s degree in Cryptography, where I took 4 courses, none of which involved coding, and wrote a thesis that mathematically analyzed electronic voting systems.

So when I got my first job as a Security Software Developer at BlackBerry in 2004 I was extremely intimidated by my fellow developers, most of whom had graduated from the University of Waterloo where all but two of their 40 course load was in math and computing. Though intimidated i didn’t let it stop me. I learned concepts like Multithreading and Java factories at work and just asked a tonne of questions when I didn’t understand something.

I did have one thing you didn’t. During my undergraduate degree I had a female professor that encouraged and pushed me into grad school. Without her I might not have taken that master’s degree and gotten a job at one of the best software companies in Canada at the time.

I am now 14 years into my career in tech. I spent the first 6 of those years coding and making BlackBerries the most secure smartphone in the industry. I have spent the last 8 leading development teams that have built mobile phones, online learning systems, and systems to monitor computers to keep the users safe.

I have a non-traditional background and I have been successful. So can you.

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