Hi, Could you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Airess. I’m a project manager, blogger and tech enthusiast. Over the past two years, I’ve finally realized how much of an impact technology has over our everyday lives and I’ve made the determination that I wanted to figure out a way to utilize technology to benefit my community.
What are you working on?
I’m working on a few things; I’m building a PMO (program management office) for a large multinational marketing company. I work as an Analyst and System Administrator bringing all business functions together to follow a centralized process. I’m also a business owner building a system for a media platform I built in 2019, The Nerd Bae. Lastly, as the Head of social media for a national nonprofit organization, I’m creating strategies for our social accounts that will enhance our impact on our target audience.
What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced in your current role?
A few challenges include the fact I have never built a PMO from scratch for a global company, I’m also the least experienced person on our team of 4 and I often experience imposter syndrome. However, I am proud that I have been able to add value to the company just based on my diverse project management background. I’ve been able to add a unique perspective that essentially helps to move the company forward. My role as a business owner is also very challenging. Creating systems and finding reliable resources isn’t as easy as I’d hoped it would be but each time I receive positive feedback on how much my content has helped someone, it reassures me that this challenge is well worth figuring it out.
What are your goals?
My goal is to help other millennial women who want to change careers, or to pursue a career in tech, do so just as I did and not feel that being a woman or being Black is a setback. I got my start in design/construction project management and most of my experience has been in that industry. But I made a decision in 2019 that I wanted to pursue a career in tech and I was able to take all the necessary steps to make that happen. My goal now is to be a resource to other millennial women who want to transition into tech. I think it’s important for women to know how they can contribute to the tech industry without learning how to code or be super techie.
Do you have a mentor?
Yes, I met my mentor in 2018 at a day party! I totally didn’t expect a mentorship when we met. After our second conversation, I realized they had already reached the same career milestones that I wanted to reach. At that point, I asked to be their mentee and they accepted. My mentor was very supportive and helpful throughout my entire process. It’s always helpful to have someone around who has already done what you’re trying to do. Having a mentor was crucial!
My advice would be to just go for it
Do you mentor anyone?
Yes, I have my blog and Facebook page where I share tips and tricks on personal and professional development. Just recently, I’ve connected with a young lady on LinkedIn who is looking to transition to a career in tech. She wants to start by obtaining her PMP certification; I shared my notes, study guide, gave her the links to all of the books I read, and I’ve actually just gifted her a book that helped me while I was studying for my PMP certification. I’ve also recently created a resume for a young lady looking to move up in her career. I was delighted when she expressed that it was the best resume she’s ever had! We are hopeful that she will find a new opportunity fairly quickly. I’m always looking to support others who may be feeling lost or just unsure of what steps to take to pivot.
What could society do to better foster female talent?
I think society has done a great job so far. There are so many scholarships and programs geared toward women advancing in the workforce. What encouraged my decision to pursue a career in tech was hearing the Director of IT speaking to our group during Women’s Month last March at my previous place of employment. She spoke about what IT was and what it took for her to make her transition into IT successful. These are the types of conversations that have to continue in order to foster female talent. I had no idea that it was possible to work in the tech industry without knowing how to code or have a computer science degree. Her sharing this information helped make my decision to transition more attainable. I think other women need to be more open to sharing resources and mentoring other women to show them what is possible.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
My advice would be to just go for it. Make sure it’s really what you want, have a good understanding of who you are and be very intentional in every move you make to reach your goal. Realize the mutual benefit for you and the organization or client you choose to work with and let that guide your steps to making it happen.
What’s the best and worst advice you have received?
The best advice I’ve received is to not settle, continue to strive for the life you want to live no matter how long it takes. Actually, all the advice I’ve received during this journey has been pretty solid.
Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?
I follow @blackorlandotech on Instagram, their website is https://blackorlandotech.org/. They have an amazing platform where they strive to help minority communities advance economically through careers in technology.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
The best way to keep up to date with what I’m doing is to follow my Facebook page, The Nerd Bae!