About a 3 minute read.
Kim Taylor – Associate AND Piano Player
As an Associate at AND Digital I perform a variety of roles, from analysis and design to development. I aim to specialise in software development but my background has given me an interest in UX and Interaction design so I also contribute to these areas of a project. What attracted me most about working at AND Digital was this opportunity to practice a variety of roles on multiple client projects, which is invaluable experience at this stage of my career.
What led you to a career at AND Digital?
I joined AND Digital after graduating in Cognitive Science, an interdisciplinary degree which fortunately allowed me to take computer science courses despite having never studied the subject at school.
What sparked your interest in IT?
I had always got on well with logic problems and maths and I had a feeling some computing skills might come in useful… this definitely turned out to be true! However I never imagined it could lead to such a fulfilling career.
The first time I realised that not only was I able to code, but that I also enjoyed it, was when a professor decided to change things up and let us build what we want in our intro to Java class. We made a chatbot that could talk! I learned that having an atypical background in psychology and linguistics could actually be an advantage rather than a drawback. I also found software development to be creative, powerful and exciting, and knew I wanted to pursue it further.
What challenges have you encountered along the way?
My school attracted some of the best computer science students from Europe and it was sometimes a challenge to be a newcomer to the field, as well as one of only a handful of women in a class of 100. It’s easy to doubt one’s own ability when the same people ask advanced questions in lectures and volunteer their work in tutorials, or when you’re struggling to keep up in labs against the speed of practiced programmers. Unlike in those subjects which encourage discussion and debate, computer science classes can be pretty quiet, which can create a feeling of competitiveness or unwillingness to help each other out (despite the fact most students just feel the same fear to speak up!). This kind of closed culture definitely needs to improve for some CS courses.
Who has inspired you?
What helped were of course other people: role models in the form of other students, staff and mentors, both genders but especially women. Equally important were forums to connect with each other, such as a computer science society just for us female students, as well as opportunities provided by larger initiatives such as the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium.
The contrast between studying at university and working at AND Digital, where the culture is amazingly open and supportive, is immense. Fortunately I was able to participate in projects, hackathons and placements during my degree which were much more inline with how software development is ‘in real life’ – building exciting projects, in supportive teams, rather than agonising, alone, over a bug in an obscure coding assignment as the deadline looms. It was these positive experiences that contributed most to my route into tech.
Finally, since joining AND Digital I have only been more inspired by the forward thinking attitude of our leaders and the support from like-minded colleagues.
How would you like to inspire others?
Despite mention of various hurdles, my overall experience of studying computer science at university was an overwhelmingly positive one that has opened countless doors for my career. I would like to encourage more people, especially young women, to choose to study these fascinating subjects, especially at school or college level when all too often we aren’t made aware of these options. It has never been a better time to learn the skills that underlie the so-called ‘digital revolution’, as whether your passion is for music, maths or marketing – technical skills can help make it a reality.