Spotlight on women in computing – Claire Beattie

Claire Beattie 2Claire Beattie works as a service desk analyst for brightsolid, an award winning company which provides data centre and cloud services. In this article, Claire shares her passion for computing and hopes it will inspire other young women into the digital sector.

In school I really enjoyed Computing and Technology Studies, however, as no girls took these classes I didn’t take them and I ended up taking Office Information Studies and learned to touch type. We did a test in high school with a series of questions that would determine the right job for you, to help us pick what we would like to do for work experience. I was given fishmonger as my top job! I hate fish and could think of nothing worse! I ended up doing office work.

I was in my 20’s when I decided to finally study what actually interested me. I wasn’t happy working in administration – I found it boring. I was given an old computer which I took to a local repair shop and they advised me that it would need a better CPU (Central Processing Unit) and more RAM (memory). These terms meant nothing to me, but I was curious. I learned how to install these in my own computer and couldn’t believe how easy it was! I felt a great sense of achievement. This was a huge deal to me and I knew then that this was what interested me.

I started at college doing NC Digital Media, which was a fantastic introduction to just about everything you could think of. I did a bit of programming with Visual Basic, basic web design, Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft Desktop/Server support and computer networking. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and it showed me that my strengths were with computer networking, and not with hardware and programming like I hoped. I then completed HND Computer Networking and my CCNA, which is the foundation Cisco certificate.

At brightsolid, I’m a Service Desk Analyst and here is what I actually do in my job.

I’m the first point of contact for all of our customers, and internal support for our colleagues. Some days I could be dealing with run of the mill issues like helping with customer changes, then the next day we could have a serious issue regarding a customer’s service which means we are all hands on deck to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

The coolest part of my job is being able to work on and learn daily about different things. I find technology interesting and being able to learn something new every day is probably what is best for me. But what about you? Could a career in the digital sector be for you too?

Just look at the technological advances the world has made in the last 30 years? We have the internet for a start! Without that you wouldn’t have your social media and be able to share your endless selfies, hashtags, pictures of your food and share cat videos! Now we are using our phones to take pictures, videos, text, facetime, email, use social media, banking and shopping – the list goes on. Then there’s gaming. Everyone’s a gamer these days, from Candy Crush on a mobile/tablet, to people who use Steam or a games console.

All of these cool things that we take for granted every day have people behind the scenes making it possible.

You need networking engineers around the world to create and administer the complex networks that create the internet, this is what allows us to connect with one another.

We need server engineers to make sure that our servers are up and running smoothly, our data is safe and for simple things like maintaining our gaming servers. Server and networking engineers that maintain our gaming servers, and the connections to them, limit the amount of times we are screaming about ‘lag’ and ‘glitches’ when playing Call of Duty and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

We need programmers to write all of the programs for the websites/social media applications/games that we use daily, and then there are games designers. The people who design all of the game content for things such as GTA V, or the likes of Until Dawn. Games are becoming more and more lifelike, through the amazing art that is possible with the use of computers and the fantastic software created to make it possible.

I was just speaking to someone today about the oculus rift. Virtulisation is becoming possible now. Virtual gaming? I mean wow! How cool would that be? Let’s remember how excited people got about the Nintendo Wii, as you could use the remote and fitness board to physically take part. Now we can immerse ourselves fully into our games. This would have taken people who understand hardware, software, programming and game design to make a single device. Albeit a really cool device of which I’m sure every home will have, much like a home computer.

How cool would it be to be a part of something like the creation of the oculus rift? The latest computer game? Or to be behind the scenes, like me, helping everything tick over so that we can take advantage of what we now see as normal?

The digital sector is just going to grow and grow. IT jobs are paid well and the more you learn, the more you can do and the more your salary will increase. Working in IT can give you a level of flexibility, although the internet never sleeps – everyone wants to be connected at all times of the day, which means there needs to be people out there on hand to support them. If you were to work in an office, administering its internal IT, then you might be a bit flexible during office hours. However, if you work for a Data Centre like me, we need staff to be readily available all day every day.

According to economists, there is lack of young people interested in computing, meaning that that we don’t have enough people going into the growing IT sector. The government believes that part of this to be due to the lack of girls interested, as working in the IT industry is seen as predominantly a man’s job.

I would say to any girls reading this article – if technology or computing interests you, go for it! Don’t be put off due to the lack of girls taking a course you like the sound of, and don’t give into peer pressure to go for the supposed ‘norm’ of being a beautician, hairdresser, nurse – or like me, an office administrator! I’m in no way having a go at people who have/are taking these courses or that work in these fields. My point is that you need to do something that interests you.

People think that computing is for geeks. Well, given that being a geek is now becoming cool/trendy, there is no better time to jump on board! Do you think that Bill Gates cared about being a geek when he created the Windows operating system and is one of the richest men in the world? Do you think that Steve Jobs cared about being a geek when every teen in the world seemed have an iPhone? And do you think that Mark Zuckerberg cares that he is a geek given how widely used Facebook is and how wealthy he is? Without them, home computing wouldn’t be as it is today, and we wouldn’t have the social media network or the convenience of using it on the move.

I hope to be working as a networking engineer in 5 years time, although I’m not sure in which capacity yet as there are different avenues I can take. I’m thinking of going down the route of internet security, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what becomes available to me and what interests me the most!


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