Pravallika Bitra

There’s more to tech than just programming. Within tech, there is a multitude of career paths. You have the programmers who develop the applications, QA engineers who make sure the apps are functional, and the project managers who make sure the work is being completed on-time.

But how do you even know what to build? That’s the job of business analysts. Their job is to be the bridge the gap between the business and the developers to make sure both are on the same page.

Why did you choose a career in IT?

If I’m being quite honest, I didn’t really pick IT. I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I graduated high school. When my dad suggested that majoring in IT would be a safe and reliable choice, I went along with it.

Even after finishing my degree, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had majored in IT with a concentration in Database Technology and Programming. I was definitely interested in doing something related to databases but I also had no idea what my options were. In my last semester of school, I started applying to jobs. Any jobs and all jobs. I just wanted to make sure I had something lined up once I graduated so I could start my career and figure out what I liked and didn’t like later. At that time, I was already working part-time at a small company and when they heard I was looking for a full-time position, they offered me a job in their engineering department and I took it!

Can you walk us through your career?

When I graduated, I ended up getting hired full-time at the company I was working part-time for at the time. It was a unique opportunity since I wasn’t hired for a specific position, therefore I had the opportunity to define my role at the company.

While I worked there, I learned about creating effective business requirements, designing apps with a good UI/UX, and did a lot of application testing. This job taught me that I loved working with the end users to make sure we were building features that would actually be utilized. I enjoyed working in an Agile environment in a smaller team because it was such a quick turnaround for releasing new features. We had short two week sprints, which meant that I was always working on something new. While I loved working at the company, I felt it was time for a change and decided to switch jobs.

A year later, I switched to work at a consulting company focused on government contracting. The environment is very different because the project works in a waterfall method rather than agile. Development doesn’t start until we complete the business process flows and the user stories. The business then have to approve the specifications and plan the budget accordingly. Gathering the business requirements can take months due to the multiple points of dependencies.

What did you learn from resigning from your first position?

I highly recommend doing a personal growth reflection 6 months into the job. Write down all the things you’ve learned, what you like about the job, and what you feel is lacking. If you don’t seem to enjoy your position, talk to your supervisor and see if they can find ways to incorporate the things you aim to learn.

If you feel that you’re not growing in your current position or want a career change, then I recommend switching jobs. I definitely recommend staying at your current job until things are lined up at another company. Always keep your resume up to date with your job responsibilities because three months from now, you’re not going to remember what you’ve accomplished.

When you’re actually leaving, be sure to give a minimum of a two weeks notice. That gives the company an opportunity for start lining up a new candidate as well as time for you to document any responsibilities and training material for the next person.

Make sure to let your coworkers know only after telling your employer. If you’re leaving on good terms, I recommend letting them know what the position had taught you and contact information in case they need to reach you.

Did you ever feel that your gender affected the way you are perceived or treated?

For the most part, I’d say I’ve been lucky enough to work in environments where my gender doesn’t affect my work. Both my jobs were very big about making sure there was gender equality and made sure to acknowledge your hard work.

Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?

In development positions, I definitely feel like there aren’t many women, while QA and business analyst seems to be pretty even. I think this is because women aren’t always encouraged to take development roles in STEM. Another reason is that the public system doesn’t make learning programming/tech classes a requirement. Many people aren’t exposed to the world of IT and all their exposure comes from the stereotypical nerd roles featured on television.

We also don’t see many women in tech being showcased on an everyday basis. You really have to go out of your way to find them. When it comes to choosing a career path, people have a tendency to follow the path of things they see regularly. When they don’t have role models to look up to, they don’t see that there is a potential opportunity for them to be in that field.

What advice would you give to young women looking to majoring in the tech field?

Definitely start learning young! For those in high school, check and see if your school offers a programming class. Whether or not you want to be a programmer, I think it’s important for everyone to take an intro class. Programming is more than writing code, it helps you build your problem solving and logical skills.

For those majoring in a tech degree in college, aim to get an internship over the summer by your junior year. An internship is a great way to build your resume and get some experience. It will help you get a better understanding on what you do and don’t like working in the field so you know what kind of positions to apply for before you graduate.

In general, I recommend finding a mentor. I’m lucky to have my older sister who is already in the tech field to talk about my career goals and any cool projects I’d want to build.

Who is your inspiration?

For sure my older sister, Niharika. She’s a boss. 🙂

How do you stay up to date?

I like to code mini projects to brush up on my programming skills. One of my current projects is building app that finds cool photo spots near you.

What do you do when you’re not in the office?

In my free time, I watch way too much Netflix for sure! I also like kickboxing and recently got my realtor’s license!

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