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In the Spotlight 13: Jessica Rose

Due to my holiday in New York. I know, I’m sorry about that. I’m introducing you an extra Spotlight this week! And..we’re going to the UK! Jessica Rose is an American-born self-taught technologist living and working in the UK. She’s obsessed with making the technology industry open and accessible to everyone. Founder of Open Code and co-founder of Trans*Code, she’s aways interested in chatting about accessibility technical education, documentation or cake.

Name: Jessica Rose
Job: Part time technical author, part-time advocate for technical education programs
Favorite website, app or gadget:
Twitter: @jesslynnrose
Site: closetoclever.com

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I fell into working in a non technical role for a start-up when I came to the UK, just a few years ago. While that wasn’t a great experience, it gave me some insight into the range of skills out there that I could develop to more meaningfully engage with technology. As a former language teacher and linguist, the idea of being able to build things out of characters and syntax drew me immediately to programming.

What does your working day look like?
It really depends if I’m in the office or not. I’m currently working three days a week for a really lovely small software company here in the Midlands. If I’m at work with them I may be writing documentation, auditing language around tools we’re using, preparing for translation work or doing some simple Java development. If I’m working on my side projects, such as Open Code or other events, I might be speaking at a conference, setting up for an event of having a meeting over cake.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Far and away the project I’m proudest of to date is Trans*Code. Naomi Ceder and I co-founded it and she’s just a joy to work with. The project was focused on creating an event focused on issues impacting the transgender community through a beginner friendly hackday. We had an incredible turnout with brilliant partners, participants, speakers and projects. I can’t wait to do another one (once I’ve caught up on sleep from this last one).

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
I have too many heroes, I’m afraid! They all tend to be people in my immediate circles who are both brilliant and kind, qualities I think aren’t often enough found together. Naomi Ceder, Steve Pitchford (of Majestic.com) and Gemma Cameron up in Manchester.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I love the idea of building products out of language. As a former linguistics nerd, the chance to use language to build digital products seems almost too wonderful at times. I also think it’s important to talk about the practical benefits of working in IT so will confess to loving the more flexible working hours and roles that tend to pay a bit higher than outside the tech industry might.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I don’t and I’m actually a bit sensitive about not having one. I’ve been threatening to go back and get one for ages now, but keep getting talked out of it by friends in the industry. I feel that having a degree may be useful for establishing a baseline of knowledge about technology and important to legitimise my presence in the industry.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Just start making something. Find someone kind to work with and start making something that’s small but meaningful to you. Go to hackdays early on and never feel like you need permission to go to anything.

Extra question from Ola: What are you curious about?
I’m always interested in filling in the gaps in my knowledge. I’ve just been to Battlehack this past weekend and saw some amazing hardware hacks. Now I’m really keen to try taking some devices apart around the flat to see what I can learn about them.

Thank you Jessica! Do you also know someone who really deserves a place in the spotlight? Get in touch!