As a society we tend to focus on titles and roles, and we forget that behind each title there is a person who has a story to tell. And truly every person’s story is unique.
In honor of International Women's day, we interview inspiring women from the community on the story of how they got into Tech, and where they are today.
In this post, I interview Megan Bloemsma, who is based in the Netherlands.
Hey, my name is Megan! I’m a data scientist working as a cloud solution architect at Microsoft. This means that I help companies with their technical roadmap, inform them about new innovations and help them build these into their (software) products.
My passion is definitely data science and artificial intelligence. I just love digging deep into a problem until I find a solution. When people hear the words ‘AI’ though, they tend to think they will need two PHD’s before they can start working with it. This is why I talk a lot at events (and especially events geared towards girls and women) to share my knowledge and teach them how to get started themselves.
When did you first become interested in technology and what sparked this interest?
Even though I grew up building computers with my dad, I didn’t get interested in technology until I graduated from my Bachelor Social Sciences. Tech always seemed intimidating (and I thought I would have to work in a dirty basement somewhere). Luckily, I found data science, which brings together disciplines like computer science but also legal issues like privacy. My social background definitely helps me in my projects, and I’m so happy I switched to tech!
What education do you have?
BSc in Social Sciences, and MSc in Data Science.
With some side roads to Design Academy Eindhoven (1 year), UC Berkeley (summer school) and premaster Sociology (1 year).
Describe your way towards your first job in tech; how did you land this job?
This is a funny story:
During my Data Science master I saw the website for the Microsoft traineeship. I was not impressed at all however haha. It was only after visiting the Dutch Microsoft office and one of the presenters of the data science workshop talking to me about applying (he thought I would be a good match with the company) that I applied. During the application I got really excited about everything Microsoft does, and how we aim to democratize tech.
And here we are!
Do you have any role models that influenced you?
YES! I encounter people during my work all the time that inspire me, for example Vivienne and Tamira (founders of Techionista), who built a company to get more women into tech. My all-time role model however is Emma Watson – she has used her platform as an actress for work at UN Gender Equality, and she has a very intimate and honest way of sharing her opinion. But also Karlie Kloss, a supermodel who set up ‘Kode With Klossy’ bootcamps around the States to help girls learn to code.
Who were/are your biggest supporters in your career?
As cliché as it is, my boyfriend Jasper is one of my biggest supporters. But I’ve also been very lucky to have found mentors throughout my career that motivate me when I hit a rough patch at work: Jeroen ter Heerdt, Silvia Kranenburg and Tim Scarfe especially.
Tell us more about your current job – e.g. what do you like most about your role?
Besides building cool innovative tech products, I really enjoy sitting down with the CTO’s at these companies and help shape the technical strategy. It feels so cool when something I’ve suggested successfully hits the market a year later!
What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing haha. My days range from working at home and skilling up on tech topics or doing admin (a necessary evil), to travelling to Sweden to visit some of my companies and do a 2-day workshop or hackathon. I love the variety of my job!
What do you do in your free time?
Being someone who gets bored easily, I always seem to find a new hobby: from learning how to knit to building my own wooden chair. Since a year or so I’m in a Dungeons and Dragons group, which I absolutely love!
What advice will you give to women and girls who dream about a career in tech?
Don’t get scared: it’s not as difficult as it often seems.
You are never in a room that you don’t belong in.