23 June 2020

I want to encourage other women interested in IT to fulfil their potential, says Maggie

Having spent 8 years total as an electrical engineering student and professional, there were countless times she has been the only woman in a room full of men. Her work, knowledge, and skills have always been much more scrutinized and questioned than those of her male peers. “It’s not fair but I use that as motivation to get even better,” says Maggie, future programmer, who fell in love with Prague.

Maggie received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the Montana State University. “I was interested in renewable energy technology and sustainable engineering practices”, the young American comments on her studies and adds: “At the university one semester of Java was required to graduate. I also spent a year programming in Python for my bachelor’s thesis and used MATLAB very frequently for other engineering coursework.”

Woman in a man’s world

Maggie belongs to a minority – neither in the Czech Republic, nor in the USA would you find many girls in technical fields. “There were countless times I have been the only woman in a room full of men. My work, my knowledge, and my skills have always been much more scrutinized and questioned than those of my male peers” describes Maggie and continues: “Is that fair? No. Will it stop happening next week, or next year? Probably not. So I use that as motivation to invest in myself by continuously seeking out educational and professional opportunities to deepen my skillsets.”

However, she has not kept her enthusiasm for herself. She tries to encourage other women interested in technical fields and support them through mentorship and donating to organizations that provide training for female engineers and programmers. “I am committed to being a leader for myself and a leader for other young women in the industry” shares her ambitions the young energetic brunette.

From overseas to the City of a Hundred Spires

In her early career, Maggie was volunteering as a youth academic tutor, which sparked her interest in potentially pursuing a career in teaching.

“After I made the decision to leave my previous job and obtain teaching certification, I researched training programs and placement opportunities all over the world. The best option for me was a TEFL school located here in Prague,” explains Maggie.

Before committing to the program she decided to visit the Czech Republic to get a sense of what living here was like. “During that week I fell head over heels in love with Prague! It has so much to offer in terms of arts and cultural events, there’s numerous parks and green spaces, the public transport system makes getting around so easy…I could go on and on!”

Maggie at the photoshooting session of the Green Fox students in Prague

After she had moved to Prague, she started to discover the differences of everyday life in her hometown and here. “During my first months here I’d tell people I hadn’t experienced any huge culture shocks, but each day was a series of small ones” says Maggie and gives examples: “So many of the details of everyday life are different – how stores are organized, which shops carry which types of things, how to retrieve a parcel from the post office. It was quite overwhelming in the beginning having to relearn the ins and outs of day-to-day activities that I’d taken for granted at home. Thankfully there’s a wonderfully supportive and knowledgeable community of TEFL teachers and expats here.”

Maggie handled all the initial challenges of moving to a new place well, after all she is 1/8 Czech – her great-great-grandparents immigrated to the US from Pilsen! “I’m from the Pacific Northwest region of the US, where people are similar to Czechs in some ways – we’re generally quiet and reserved in public, the socks and sandals combination is a quintessential fashion statement, and we’ll never turn down a pint of beer.”

Teaching as a way to improve soft skills

With the great zest of her own, Maggie completed her course and consequently started teaching English. “My students’ ages ranged from 4 to 64. I enjoyed working with both children and adults.” She goes on: “Children’s language learning is heavily based on play, so that means lots of games and fun! However, adult students make much better conversational partners. The keys to progressing your skills are always having an achievable goal in mind and practicing, even just for a few minutes, every day.”

In those moments, standing in front of the blackboard and explaining words and grammar, she arrived at a conclusion: “Working with children and being in a mentorship position showed me how critical communication skills are in every facet of life” opines and continues: “All of my university education and professional training had been solely technical, so before jumping into the IT industry I wanted to dedicate some time to enhancing my interpersonal professional skills. Teaching was the perfect opportunity to achieve that goal.”

How and where to study programming

Despite the field of her studies and her teaching experience, Maggie was convinced even before she moved to Prague that her future lies with programming. “When I was working as an engineer I realized I enjoyed troubleshooting the software I was using daily, more so than my actual engineering work,” discloses and adds: “There were several software development bootcamps where I lived previously, but all were extremely cost-prohibitive and none were focused on areas of computer science I was interested in.”

Maggie during the workshop in Green Fox Academy

After teaching full-time for about 18 months Maggie began researching software development bootcamps in Europe. “I was delightfully surprised to find the perfect fit right in my backyard,” recalls she the moment when she found the Junior programmer course by Green Fox Academy. Without hesitations she applied and dived right into the coding. “I love how it incorporates both creativity and logical thinking. I’ve been an avid crocheter since I was a child, and I’ve always secretly enjoyed untangling the knots that inevitably appear in your yarn. In many ways programming is just that – untangling the intricacies of problems that invariably arise in any project. “

At home in Czechia

With the upcoming final exams, the junior programmer begins to think about the next steps. „After the course, I plan on obtaining a junior developer position with a local company that provides a supportive environment for its employees through mentorship, and opportunities to grow into leadership positions,“ says Maggie and promises to stay in Czechia: “I love living in Prague and the Czech Republic, so I don’t currently have any plans to return home. I want to stay in Europe and deepen my work relationships here in the Czech Republic.”


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