Embarking on a career can be an overwhelming experience, whether you're a recent graduate, fresh out of school, or just completing an apprenticeship. The professional world often appears daunting, particularly for those contemplating a career in the tech industry, where imposter syndrome and uncertainty can creep in.
In this series of articles, we continue our exploration of the journeys taken by the remarkable women within our company. We'll uncover their unique stories, the challenges they've encountered, and the invaluable insights they can provide to those starting on their career path. This time, Grace Gückel. Senior Agile Coach at GfK shared her story, showing the importance of passion, teamwork, and unique perspectives.
How did you get your start in tech?
When I arrived as a freshman at the University of Michigan, I planned on majoring in Business. Then, I took an Intro to Programming course with some friends out of curiosity, and I discovered the joy of using logic and a programming language (in my case C++) to build a piece of working software. This experience sparked my interest in technology and led me to choose Computer Science as my major. As I delved deeper into the subject, learning about operating systems, search algorithms, databases, and web programming, I became increasingly passionate about creating interactive software with user-friendly graphical interfaces and decided I wanted to be a software developer.
What was the first step you took to begin your career path in technology?
I started my career as a front-end programmer at Siemens Corporate Research. Here, our primary focus was on developing software for other Siemens units. This role provided me with my first real exposure to the life of a software developer. I worked closely with more experienced architects, software developers, graphic designers, and requirements engineers, collaborating to build software for real users and evaluate our results with user testing. This experience laid the foundation for my career in technology and taught me how essential teamwork is in this highly complex field.
Did you experience any biases as you were starting your career? If so, how did you overcome them?
Fortunately, I did not personally encounter (or at least was not aware of) any biases when I began my career in technology. It was evident that there was a significant gender disparity in the field, but this did not really bother me. In fact, I believed that being different from the majority had its advantages. Being a woman in tech allowed me to bring a unique perspective to the table. I enjoyed working with UX designers, obsessing about the user experience, and working on the graphical user interfaces (GUIs), which set me apart from some of my peers who were more interested in the backend logic. I embraced these differences and saw them as opportunities to contribute something different to the field.
What is your favorite part of your career and why?
What I love the most about my career in technology is the ability to work in or with cross-functional software teams to create solutions for real-world problems. As a team, we have the power to craft something entirely new that can address challenges and improve people's lives. The collaborative and creative aspect of building software is an immensely rewarding environment that keeps me passionate about my work.
What advice do you have for others looking to pursue tech?
My advice to those considering a tech career is to embrace the journey. While technology may initially seem intimidating, it has become an integral part of modern organizations and society. Pursuing a tech career offers the opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation, where you can contribute to developing core services and products for forward-thinking organizations. Don't worry if you don’t look or feel like others in this field; your unique perspective can become a very valuable asset in this constantly evolving field. Embrace the challenges, use every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow, and be ready to make a real impact through technology.
A big thank you to Grace for taking the time to discuss how you started your career in tech. Your insights on your passion for technology, embracing one's career journey, and collaboration have broadened our horizons. If you're eager to delve deeper into the experiences of our incredible team members, be sure to check out our careers blog for more enriching stories.