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Women in Technology in Benton County: Jennifer Mantooth
How and why did you get started in technology?
I just happened to be in the right place at the right time in the beginning. While in the military, I was recruited to work in our Information Technology office. I had no prior experience, but they where short on staff and I was easy to work with so I got the job. I enjoyed my time in IT, but I didn't think of it as something I would really be able to do long term. It seemed more like a secret society instead of a viable career option and I didn't want to play the, "Who do you know?" game.
After a long tech hiatus, I decided to return to school. After many hours of research, I settled on a major in Information Systems, with an emphasis on user experience, user interface design, and programming. To get some experience in a modern IT office before finishing my studies, I started working in an IT office as an administrative assistant. When a position in my office as a junior programmer opened I qualified, applied, and got it.
What were your goals and how did you stay motivated?
I really wanted to find a new career that would challenge me, but allow me to grow and branch out into different disciplines. There are so many different aspects of technology, it is actually encouraged you learn about things outside of your main discipline. The more you know the better-rounded you are. That makes you a greater contributor to your team and an excellent asset to your organization.
To stay motivated, I have learned to celebrate all of my wins, even the small ones. While making a small advancement on a project may seem insignificant, it is important to remember that even the smallest steps get you closer to your bigger goal.
What advice would you have for folks who are just starting out or thinking about getting started?
I highly recommend learning a little bit about everything to build yourself a better overview of the industry. Once you have a better understanding about how all of the different disciplines work together, then it is a good time to start your journey into finding the path that really interests you. Don't panic! If you find yourself down a path you no longer think is a good fit for you, you can always move in a different direction.
What would you say to women who may not think they can get started in technology?
Bottom line, if you care about people, you enjoy learning new skills, and you can work well on a team, there is definitely a place for you in technology today.