“I always wanted a customer-facing role. I didn’t want to just sit in front of a computer screen,” explains Christina, who is 23. Her job will involve plenty of travel to the UK and the US, helping companies with their systems, putting in fixes and working in computer languages such as Java and Unix. She’s particularly excited about a possible work trip to Mexico in 2014.
Originally from Lavey in Co Cavan, Christina opted for a general science course in University College Dublin. She chose mainly computer and physics subjects in her first two years, before deciding she wanted to focus on computers.
Going beyond the technical
While she liked computers in secondary school, she was more into solving problems, she says, and didn’t write her first program until she was in first year at university. “It can be intimidating when someone says they began programming aged 10, but there’s more to computers than the hard technical side.” She was always interested in science. “I was the one taking the radio apart when I was younger and putting it back together,” says Christina.
When her older brother did his PhD in DCU as part of the Vision Systems Group, he showed her a program that could help people and that got her more interested. “The program used medical images of the heart to calculate the heart muscles size, shape and movement. I could see it helped people and it had a science aspect too.”
If you study computers, you don’t have to go and work in IT, she explains. If you are interested in art and design or medicine, then computers can be a way of working in those areas. “So much medical equipment is based on technology so, just because you want to do medicine, it doesn’t mean you should ignore computers,” says Christina.
Let’s hear it for the girls
While in college, Christina went to a conference in London called IT’s not just for the boys. There she met a girl from Manchester who inspired her to get more girls involved in computers and technology. She decided to get Girl Geek Dinners, which had lapsed in Dublin, back up and running. Girl Geeks Dinners bring together women (and men) who are interested in technology. Everyone is welcome, including teenagers.
If you’d like to find out more, take a look at ireland.girlgeekdinners.com.