November 4, 2020
“moinworld’s commitment to women in IT is something I want to support. Earlier in my engineering career, I didn’t feel the need for mutual support among women. Maybe I wasn’t aware of a need at the time. But ever since I started working in IT, it has been an issue for me.”
Laura, can you introduce yourself?
I’ve been a software developer for about a year now and before that I actually worked in a completely different industry. I was in the aviation industry for about 11 years. I first trained as an aircraft mechanic and then decided to study mechanical engineering. However, I have never been really happy in this field and so I decided to apply for IT related jobs. But at first this didn’t work out and I had to make the experience that programming experience is actually a prerequisite for most jobs, also in IT project management. Most companies probably don’t want to put the work into their own apprenticeship - even if you already have a “hard” technical degree.
In January 2019 I stumbled across a coding bootcamp of neue fische here in Hamburg and registered. From March to June I was able to gain so much knowledge about programming basics. But since I still have no computer science studies or any professional training, I was curious how far I could get with my bootcamp skills. And look - it worked. With my exam task, which I created in the camp, an app, I could apply and was accepted. Now I’ve been with Jimdo for over a year. We support small to medium sized companies and self-employed people with technical solutions. Store solutions, website construction kits, but also legal issues. I’m part of the development team responsible for the website. I enjoy my current job very much, I like my company very much because it gives me many opportunities beyond my actual job. I am also often used as moderator for meetings.
Did you ever really have the idea to start studying computer science?
Not seriously. I have a degree in mechanical engineering. That’s good for me. Then I actually started to study Business Psychology in the Master’s program, but didn’t finish it. I’m quite honest, studying doesn’t pick me up in such a way that I would have wanted to start studying again now.
How did you come across moinworld back then?
During my job search, I did some research on what is going on in the industry. And then I came across meetups of yours where I participated with other women from the boot camp. We liked it a lot. I think my first meetup with you was at Share now. Your commitment to women in IT is something I want to support. Earlier in my engineering career, I didn’t feel the need for mutual support among women. Maybe I wasn’t aware of a need at the time. But ever since I started working in IT, it has been an issue for me. Even with Neue Fische, we always aim to train as many women as men. In fact, we were considerably more women than men. But I also had other experiences in job interviews: there were only men and a secretary. I think as a woman you are still rather alone in most cases. But in my team it is different. We are currently two men and three women and beat any statistics ;) But it’s just not the regular way. What moinworld does is necessary and something I like to support. I have just changed industries myself and the mentoring program is a great way to share experiences and to support and encourage other women in similar projects and finally take away their fear of such a career step.
How did you spend the last months with your mentee? What kind of experiences did you have together?
Despite the difficult conditions caused by Corona, we met very, very regularly every two weeks. That suited us well. Especially because my mentee was in a very acute job search phase, doesn’t speak German and hasn’t lived here for very long. I wanted to help her find a job because she wanted to stay in Germany and her right to stay depended on it. My mentee comes from the USA. We talked about many things. It was about how to apply for a job in Germany. By spending a year and a half of my own time before joining Jimdo, I was able to really help her with company testimonials and interviews. We revised her application documents and her LinkedIn site and made it suitable for the German job market. Now she actually has a job that she really likes and is staying in Germany.
What did you learn during your time together?
For me, our mentorship was a cultural learning process. My mentee told me a lot about herself, where she comes from, what she has done so far and how she perceives differences on the job market. This has been very interesting and valuable for me. Also the benefit from the fact that we were successful together in our cooperation and that she achieved the goal she wanted was very nice and enriching for me.
That all sounds quite close and, as you say successful, did you have any struggles?
Understanding the German job market is a challenge in itself - and even more so in the days of Corona. Many companies are not hiring the way they should. In addition, budgets are frozen. At the beginning of our mentorship in March/April this was simply very difficult. The time my mentee had to find a job was also limited. In the back of our minds, we thought that her return to the USA was simply not an option at the moment for health and economic reasons. We had to motivate each other to keep at it. In the end it worked out and that’s great and I was relieved.
After everything you told me, does it sound like you plan to stay in touch?
Yes! for us the topic came up with the final event of the first mentorship batch. However, I have clearly offered my mentee to continue to meet with us. Then it will certainly be about other topics. At the moment we are exchanging a lot about technical topics. The contact will remain in any case. We would like to continue to help each other. I would also like to meet her in real life. In fact, we have been talking to each other all the time so far only via video calls.
Did the digital exchange go well?
I would say it went as well as it could. I’m very well equipped because I’ve had all my Jimdo work equipment at my home for the last seven months: from monitors to my desk. We just had to get used to the fact that it’s only remote at the moment. That was okay for me. My Internet connection is good for that. With my mentee, it was a little different. Sometimes we could neither see nor hear each other and had to switch to SMS. Technically, it was really difficult in the beginning. Sometimes it just didn’t work and we had to postpone our meetings.
What do you think a good and successful mentor-mentee relationship needs?
Questions, a lot of questions. And openness from both sides. And the courage to ask questions. That was always the case with us. My mentee was not shy to ask me questions. That is the most important thing. In addition, for me as a mentor, it is essential to go into detail about what my mentee needs.
In your experience from the first round, is there anything you would like moinworld to do for the next rounds of the program?
I liked the material we received at the beginning. It really made the first meetings easier. After that we didn’t really stick to it that much anymore. I actually expected the program to be a little different. I thought it would be much more technical. It wasn’t like that at all for both of us. Maybe I would have liked to have been given a hint that it doesn’t necessarily have to be just about the exchange of tech content and that it can also be completely customized. My mentee and I were simply very lucky that we got along well and were flexible. I think I managed to find out what my mentee’s needs are despite the slightly different expectations.
Would you recommend the mentoring program of moinworld to others?
I already have! I am, if you like, a double mentor. Once at moinworld and once in my working environment. I have spoken with a few women in my developer environment about programs for further education in our field. There moinworld was with my recommendations. I like your formats and the possibility of networking. It is so helpful to be able to exchange ideas with women from other companies who have had similar backgrounds.
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We will also have a Meetup celebrating the ending of our first mentors and mentees batch in September. Everybody is welcome to join and listen to some of the success stories. Just follow our events!
Read more about some of our great mentors here.