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Inspiring Stories: Pauline Vos

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 Pauline Vos, who is based in the Netherlands.

Meet Pauline

I'm a software engineer from Amsterdam. Apart from that, I'm active as a conference speaker and often give talks and workshops on Git. I have a serious passion for learning and constantly evolving. Currently I'm shifting from my PHP back-end background towards more full-stack knowledge. I'm learning about React and Redux and am loving the learning process! Aside from that, I usually have a few side projects running. My most fun and challenging right now is a browser-based pixel art game I'm creating for one of my favorite local rappers. It's a really great way to learn something new and be creative, and I get to work with someone who inspires me.

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When did you first become interested in technology and what sparked this interest?
I was into computers and video games from a very young age. When my dad first got an internet connection, I started playing around with code almost immediately. I loved it! I started where I think many of us started: those early social networks where we could decorate our own little online space with gaudy gifs and marqueed text. It wasn't long before I created my first website for my classmates. I posted all our homework on it and hid easter eggs that people could find to win items from the school cafeteria.

What education do you have?
I started out at university in theater, film, and television sciences, but quickly dropped out due to laziness and general disinterest. I ended up majoring in digital communication (a mix between digital marketing and code) with a minor in American studies. However, most of my software skill is self-taught.

Describe your way towards your first job in tech; how did you land this job?
I was doing a working holiday year in Australia and defended my dissertation long-distance over Skype. A few months before moving back, I decided to send out a few job applications. It turned out junior devs were in pretty high demand at the time! I was invited for interviews by most of them, and clicked with a small agency that wrote integrations for a big ERP software product. I ended up working there for about 2.5 years.

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Do you have any role models that influenced you?
I have many, and I follow most of them on Twitter! People in tech who are from underrepresented groups and excel through everything to beat the odds inspire me. There are people who have to be exceptional at what they do and have amazing determination to get to the same place as the rest of us. They have to face challenges and take risks that most of us don't have to, and do it daily. These people impress me.

Who were/are your biggest supporters in your career?
I have a lot to thank two managers and one mentor for in particular. The managers are Rick Buitenman (L1nda) and Rodrigo Prestes (Werkspot). They share a lot of my ideals and are really passionate about the personal development and emotional support of their employees. The mentor is Rafael Dohms (Usabilla), who is a well-known figure in the PHP landscape. He taught me how to not just code, but really architect software. I have these three to thank for most of my career so far.

What do you do in your free time?
I have another passion besides software, and that's (American) football. I started playing at 16, as one of three girls in the country. These days there's a women's league (the Queens Football League) that I play in. My positions over the years have been wide receiver, tight end, back-up quarterback, and defensive end. But right now I'm not playing any position, because I'm also preparing for the birth of my first child this summer!

What advice will you give to women and girls who dream about a career in tech?
Keep learning, never underestimate your value, and never hesitate to claim what you deserve. If you work with people who don't value or appreciate you, leave and find people who do. Keep making moves and you'll keep going forward!

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