You may know you want to enter into a career in IT, but are stuck envisioning the right career for you.
That’s why we decided to start sharing people’s success stories – people who already work in an IT field and have some great advice to offer.
This week we spoke to Amy Grainger, a 24 year old executive support technician at Whitgift School – a top private school in South East England.
Have you always held an interest in computers?
“I’ve always had an interest in how things work since I was little - I always wanted to break my toys apart to see how they worked and put them back together again.
“My parents weren’t too happy about this so started to buy me little electronic kits with little light bulbs, wires, switches and anything to do with circuits.
“My dad brought a computer home one day from work as he was working in IT for an insurance company at the time and it became our family computer for a couple of years - I was fascinated with it.
“I was surprised about how tiny the motherboard was inside and what it could do really excited me.
“It had Windows 95 on it and I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen – I was five at the time!”
What made you decide on a career in IT?
“This was a tricky decision for me because initially I wanted to be a graphic designer, and ended up graduating from Art School.
“Through this I had learnt how to use a Mac, and how to use different applications such as Photoshop; I’d really enjoyed learning how to use other new technology.
“Although I got good grades, I knew I wasn’t skilled enough to actually make money as a graphic designer.
“Already having previous retail experience, I ended up working for a supermarket full time.
“One day just before opening time our till systems crashed and no one could get hold of IT as it was 7:00 in the morning.
“I’d seen my dad work on computers so I took a look at the tills and treated them as mini computers – to my surprise I fixed them!
“During the same week one of the trays in the till had jammed so I was asked if I could fix it, I also managed to do that.
“After that colleagues at work and friends and family would ask me if I could fix things for them more frequently, including computers, iPhones, Blackberries, iPods and TVs.
“It was at this point I knew that I wanted a career in IT but that I needed certification of some kind to get on the career ladder.”
Do you feel your experience as a young woman in the technology industry is different from male colleagues?
“I think it is dependent on your place of work and how supportive employers are about their employees.
“In my current job I am respected, treated as an equal and appreciated for all the work I do.
“My employer practises equal opportunities and understands their employee’s needs.
“They communicate effectively about my role and I have supportive management.
“However, this wasn’t the case in a previous job and I found it harder to progress because sometimes my skills and technical knowledge were underestimated, I feel this was because I am a young woman.
“When I started male colleagues assumed I did only basic administration and PA work.
“Once I was told by a male student that I couldn’t work in IT as it was a man’s job and I should be doing a job that is more female orientated.
“From that point on I knew I had to prove to myself that I was worthy of doing the same work as male colleagues, and that I wanted to become a role model for young girls.
“Through getting certified I am confident enough in my abilities, and want to encourage other young women to break into IT – an often male orientated discipline.”
Why did you decide not to go to university?
“My decision not to go to university was a very easy decision.
“All my other classmates started to think about university, we had different lecturers discussing about the courses you could do, but none of them appealed to me.
“I didn’t like any of the campuses I visited either, and I didn’t enjoy the way university was advertised.
“I didn’t want to waste three years coasting through a degree for the sake of it because I knew I would get bored quickly.
“My two years at art school made me realise that I wanted to make money, and to be financially independent without any debt with student loans.”
How do you fit the studying into your lifestyle?
“I’m currently studying for my MCTS online certification, and so I am able to allocate myself study time at work each week, and I can also study in the evenings and weekends.”
How do you keep yourself motivated?
“I kept thinking of the end result of gaining the certification - I knew if I pushed on I would feel proud at myself for achieving my goal.
“My family were extremely supportive when I started to think I didn’t want to continue and their support helped me get back on track.”
How has studying for and passing your CompTIA exams helped your career?
“Studying and passing my CompTIA exams helped my career because it allowed me to get into the IT industry.
“It helped me to get my first job in the educational IT sector because of the courses being recognised by employers.
“I enjoyed studying the topics in those exams and learning even more about computers that I didn’t know already.
“The certifications showed employers that I was enthusiastic to work in IT.”
What made you decide to continue studying and sign up for your MCTS certification?
“I was asked at my previous job whether I would like to do any training so I looked into Microsoft courses.
“I saw the MCTS topics and thought it would be the next step from the CompTIA courses.
“The Microsoft courses are recognised globally and thought it was a good certification to have.”
Do you think you’ll undertake any other certifications in the future?
“Yes, I will keep continuing to study because I enjoy learning new things.
“I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge for my career because IT is a fast moving industry and I like to keep up to date with newer technologies.
“I think if I continue with more certifications it will push me up the career ladder because employers want to see that you can progress and expand your knowledge.”