Career

Chapter 30: What's In Store For My Tech Career?

Has the outlook of my tech career changed now that I'm 30?

4 minutes

Happy October!

October is my birthday month and if you are familiar with birthstones, you probably already knew judging by my last name, 'Opal'.

Turning 30 can bring a lot of worries for a lot of people, women more so. For example, not being married, not having children, not running the multi-million pound company we were supposed to be running when we turned 25 or missing our window to be on 'Forbes 30 under 30'. For others, it's looked at as an exciting time. Our 20s have moulded us, challenged us and allowed us to see and experience the good, the bad and the ugly within the world and within ourselves.

For me, I'm entering 30 with excitement and curiosity. My 20s was a long period of self-discovery and maturity. It was difficult in the beginning but towards the end of my 20s, I discovered so much of myself. Let's break it down slightly. I was finally diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia at age 27. This moment finally put all the questions and concerns I had to rest; to know that certain patterns of my behaviour and character had a name and reason attached to it.

I was also introduced to coding at the age of 27 then got onto a coding program at the age of 28. This led me to getting my first job role in tech as a Junior Software Engineer at age 29. I launched my own blog platform, interviewed with the BBC, won an award, was nominated for others and interviewed by few.

I love being tech. I know that I have found my place. I'm able to inspire, learn, create and be creative. My gift of ADHD is a big asset; it allows me to think like a mind-map. You may have an idea to become a historian, I'll expand into "Why not share historic facts on social media and then launch your own website? Why don't you travel around the world teaching history and learning it? Why don't you build a school and raise money for it by.....?" You see what I mean?! I love that about me!

Everything in tech fascinates me. Whenever I learn about something in tech whether it be the power of the blockchain or creating interior designs with VR, my mind spirals into what I could do with it too. I envision myself using those technologies and creating with them. It excites me and stimulates my brain at the same time. I'm early in my career in tech but I have already discovered so much. I know that my creativity and curiosity won't allow me to stay in one place forever but I do know that in order for me to step in and be confident in this, I have to break the shackles of fear. The fear of showing my creativity in tech to the world. Believe it or not, I do fear the opinion of others, especially when I think of my creativity being challenged but no-one will know my gift until I share what it is and let others see what it can do.

Picture of Jennifer Opal wearing a brown cardigan wrapped in a bardot style. She has her hand in her hair as she poses looking into the distance.

So to the first question, what is in store for my tech career? Everything. Everything is in store. What my journey has told me, and others, is that there is no barrier stopping you from pivoting to do something different no matter what people may try to do to stop you from stepping into it. I'm not exactly sure what in tech my curiosities will swerve into but I know whatever it is, it will be exciting and it will be somewhere I will make a difference.

I have to ask myself where do I go from here? What's next? I have been working as a DevOps Big Data Engineer since January 2020. It is interesting and I enjoy it but I do wonder, "Could I do more?" The idea of stepping out to do things that would challenge me to conquer my fears seems like something I want to step into.

In terms of my second question, has my outlook on my tech career changed now that I'm turning 30? It has. I feel that Chapter 29 had me taking a "one day at a time" approach to my career but now I'm thinking more long-term. I'm thinking of what I want in terms of salary, my ideal job role, how I want to give back and hold the door open for others to get into tech but also, how to inspire and encourage those that also identify as neurodivergent like me.

During this lockdown season, I was challenged a lot. My emotions were up and down, my ADHD symptoms got so much worse that I started pharmaceutical treatment for it to help manage it. Something that may be life-long. I went into therapy and out of therapy... and back into therapy again. I lost four members of my family this year alone (not due to COVID). The reminder of how fragile life is has unlocked an area of growth within me. I feel different. I feel peaceful. I feel determined. I feel ready.

They say everything gets better and clearer when you turn 30 so if that's the case, let's begin writing out page 1.