Would you believe me if I told you that my love of fashion led me to coding?
Fashion is an applied art, meaning it's designed for a purpose. There are clothes for all kinds of occasions and outcomes: The office, the alter, the stage and the streets. Designers continually plan, shape, cut, sew and layer to suit these needs. They study what others have done, try new things, take them apart and start again.
The same goes for tech development. Construction is key. There’s constant collaboration, experimentation and integration with other platforms and pieces. And each solution is tailored to our clients’ goals, evolving with them as things change. To work in either field, you need:
- Creativity and a vision of the end product
- An eye for detail and a hands-on, iterative approach
- Resilience: You will fail fast and often
- A great deal of technical skill and understanding of how pieces interact with each other and their environment
- Continual learning as trends and technologies evolve and come to market
It’s no wonder, then, that my passion for tech was ignited by Diane von Furstenberg’s book, The Woman I Wanted to Be. Inspired by reading about pioneering women, I went about designing my career.
Cultivate a vision
In her book, the inventor of the iconic wrap dress writes, “I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.”
After college, I joined Accenture's Liquid Studio in Atlanta. Not knowing what I wanted to do, I did a bit of everything: software engineering, hardware tasks, demo presentations, prototyping, etc. In college, I was often one just a few women in my technology classes but here, I was part of a team full of renaissance women in a thrilling startup-like environment. These were the kinds of women I wanted to be.
As I progressed, I came to realize I wanted a more specialized consultant role. I envisioned myself in a heavy client-facing architect position, designing comprehensive enterprise solutions.
Hone your design
When I was a kid, the walls of my bedroom were smattered with fashion drawings, each more intricate than the last. Today, I'm still continually taking steps to refine and accelerate my vision.
My first move? Attaining my Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Practitioner certification ahead of my first day at Liquid Studios. There are more than 30,000 AWS-trained and certified professionals at Accenture. Being fresh out of college, I wanted to hit the ground running and prove to them that I could get my hands dirty.
At Liquid, I built a clearer picture of my vision, adding detail based on the strengths and interests I acquired on the job. This led me to my AWS Developer - Associate certification, which goes deeper on cloud architecture as a whole. That’s when I truly started to cultivate a passion for and specialization in AWS.
As the world's leading cloud environment, AWS draws the best talent from around the world. So, when it was time to move on from my role in 2019, I knew I wanted to continue with AWS, and I knew I wanted to do it at Accenture. Why?
- The people – Our cloud experts are unmatched. My Accenture and AWS colleagues are the smartest I've ever worked with.
- The relationship – Accenture and AWS have been working together for over 13 years. We have a dedicated team, the Accenture AWS Business Group—which is like having an “in” at AWS.
- The work – With over 40 accelerators and solutions, we help clients rapidly transform with cloud. If last year was any indication, it'll be increasingly important to embrace change at speed in the future. That’s where I want to be.
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“I imagine the feeling I get presenting demos to clients is much like that of a designer watching their creations breeze down a runway.”
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Seize your moment
With a solid vision, two certifications and a year at Liquid behind me, I was ready for a new runway.
When I learned that Associate Director Amanda Jensen was looking for a developer on the LaunchPad team, I jumped at the opportunity. Launchpad is a network of Accenture and AWS developers to turn innovation into results quickly by building proofs of value and other solutions. This type of work brings me that much closer to the consultancy role I see in my mind.
I can't say it enough to young women in particular: If you see something you want, take it!
Be the face of change
Now that I'm more rooted in my career path, I'm passionate about bringing other young women into the fold, as von Furstenberg did for me. I've still got a long way to go, but you don’t have to wait for your dream job to make a difference. Whenever you reach a milestone, turn around and help others who are struggling along the path behind you.
I continue to find inspiration in the fashion world, where stars are increasingly using their platforms to promote change. Karlie Kloss and her Kode with Klossy program comes to mind. Similarly, I volunteer with Girls Who Code and Black Girls Who Code, two organizations aimed at rearing the next generation of female developers.
Wrapping it all together
Our Global CEO Julie Sweet is passionate about continuous learning. Following her lead, I completed my third certification as an AWS Solution Architect in August. Now, instead of spending lots of time on configuration details, I’m devising and selling end-to-end solutions to clients.
Much like fashion, programming requires vision, creativity and preparation to bring a blueprint to life. Representing Accenture and LaunchPad as a female developer gives me immense pride—but my greatest reward is seeing the final product. I imagine the feeling I get presenting demos to clients is much like that of a designer watching their creations breeze down a runway.
Learn, create something new, innovate on what’s been done, and leave a great reputation in your wake—that’s how you design a great career.