Why to Remind yourself How Far you’ve Come
10 min read
The month of March is dedicated to #womeninhistory, in lieu of this our team decided to highlight #womenintech, speaking with a collective group of women who work in tech to talk about their journey. This week’s spotlight feature is dedicated to Amanda Murray, Marketing and Project Manager at SEOPlus+. Amanda is an incredible role model for women in tech. She advocates for authenticity around self-confidence. Amanda speaks highly about the benefits of teaching oneself new and improved skills to be a more valuable teammate at work. Amanda highlights the importance of reflecting back on your own personal and professional journey. Here is our interview, with Amanda about her career as a woman in tech.
Question & Answer Interview
When did you begin taking an interest in technology?
I’ve been interested in tech from an early age. As a kid my family was the first, amongst my group of friends, to get a colour printer, home internet, and so on. It felt like we were very cutting edge at that time. My interest in technology was not so much about the hardware itself but about what could be accomplished using these tools. I have always had an interest in creative writing, and technology has been intertwined with that. The written stories of my childhood have long been lost to time, but I can vividly remember typing wildly on an IBM Selectric typewriter, frantically transcribing song lyrics on a black and white Apple Macintosh, or fighting my brothers for screen-time on our family’s 1995 Compaq.
What was your first significant memory with technology as a child, and/or a young adult?
My mom was a legal secretary and introduced us as kids to the newest in office tech – from a Xerox typewriter with a screen to MS-DOS word processors. This was an era when most working adults could barely navigate their way around a Qwerty keyboard, nevermind use technology with any consequence. My mom would balletically type, with spitfire precision. Even as a four or five-year-old, I wanted nothing more than to emulate that skill. I would sit at the family computer for hours, filling the pages in WordPerfect with my creative stories.
When you were growing up did you think you’d be working in the tech industry today?
In all honesty, despite my interest in technology at such a young age, it wasn’t a career path I planned for, nor anticipated. I thought I would be a teacher, a journalist, or a writer. As I launched my career as a marketing writer, later transitioning into a marketing manager, this was not something I expected. Now, looking back it makes perfect sense. That’s one of the attributes I appreciate the most about technology and innovation – it allows you to wield a very traditional skillset, such as writing, into a modern arena.
Did you go to post-secondary education with a study related to technology?
Not even close. I have an honors degree in history from the University of Ottawa. The one class I did take relative to my current role in tech would have been HIS 2129: Technology, Society and Environment Since 1800.
I have no formal training around tech. I’ve been so fortunate to further my skills at SEOPlus+, they support employees in developing their professional skills through training and education. With the support of my colleagues and the endless free learning resources online, I have specifically further developed my HTML/CSS skills, so much so – that I launched four websites in the last calendar year. I have started the Salesforce Trailhead program with hopes of getting the most out of the CRM our company utilizes. And I am certified in Google Ads and Google Analytics.
All this to say, my learning journey around technology has indeed been personal – self-directed and guided by what interests me most. What motivates me to dedicate the time is the opportunity to round out my skill set. I particularly like to take courses that can help deepen the value I provide to my team and our clients on any given day. I feel very lucky to be in such a position.
How often do you take additional courses related to technology or sharpening existing skills?
I’d say every three-four months the learning bug strikes and I want to dive into something new. Whether it be a direct need or interest, I’m always up for the challenge of learning something new!
“I think being resourceful is a really good skill to have, you get to learn something that previously you did not know, and can offer the answer next time, possibly even being an expert on the subject!”
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, instead, I try to be as resourceful as possible. I have a dual monitor setup and it’s a safe bet that if you peek at my leftmost monitor you will see some kind of help or how-to article open.
When did you first start working in the tech industry?
I am coming up on my 5 year anniversary in the tech industry. I began writing blogs for SEOPlus+, later transitioning into a content manager role. From my roles as content manager, I moved into my current role as marketing/project manager. This is where I really got to sink my teeth in. My current role is best described as the intersection of tech and marketing.
Do you have any involvement outside of work, within the tech industry? If so, how did you get involved and why?
I help my family with a small website and social updates, but it’s absolutely something I’d like to pursue further. I was reading an online biology textbook that is an outstanding resource. The e-book is pulled together by volunteers, but it hasn’t been updated since 2007 and it’s not mobile-friendly. I’d love to reach out to the author and offer to make the website responsive. Maybe putting it in writing here will hold me accountable!
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be authentically you. It can feel like there’s so much pressure on you to fit in, look or act a certain way, but people really are accepting and respectful about what unique characteristics you bring to the table. It’s not easy, but when you challenge yourself to put forward your unique “youness,” instead of conforming to what you believe a professional woman in tech should behave as, talk like, or be interested in, it all starts to click. If I ever stop feeling confidence in my role I go back to this advice and it sets me back on the right path.
What advice would you give another woman, interested in entering the tech industry?
I always tell my colleagues that a sign of progress and development is when you look back on your code, graphics, or ad copy from a year ago and feel embarrassed. Not because it’s objectively bad, but because your skills have significantly improved! With every day, you improve. As we evolve, as we do so quickly in the tech industry, you’re introduced to a better technique, software tool, and with that, your skills improve.
That feeling of embarrassment is immediately followed by a sense of accomplishment. Remind yourself how far you’ve come. If you’re just starting out, you only need to beat day zero – you can do that! And, with each day then get better and better. Be proactive and honour yourself with this objective.
Amanda’s journey in tech was never planned, but with each day, she worked towards improving her previous skillset to what it is today. The story Amanda tells should inspire everyone to continue developing their skills – becoming less afraid of the future, and instead embrace the benefits of going with the flow, utilizing every day, every hour you have to further develop your skills. Often, the tech industry can be very intimidating. It’s a very quick paced industry. With new technology hitting the market every day, it can become overwhelming. Shifting your mindset, like Amanda has, working in tech begins to feel like less of a hassle and more of a reward.