“There is nothing more exhilarating than working on a problem for a while and then figuring out the solution!” – Rachael MacKeigan, UIT Startup Immersion Graduate

rachael

It’s no secret that the tech industry is predominantly men, but there are lots of women rocking the industry in their own way and blazing a trail doing it! In this three part blog series, we’ll feature three women who have come into the tech industry and made a name for themselves in a relatively short period of time.

Rachael MacKeigan has always been interested in technology – volunteering her time with robotics clubs and building websites for non-profit organizations – but she didn’t think she had the time to immerse herself fully to learn coding. She knew there were jobs in Cape Breton for techies and so she decided it was time to learn what she needed to learn to make coding more than a hobby.

Working in marketing and communications for the Nova Scotia Community Access Program, she saw first hand the benefits of giving people access to technology related training. She enrolled in UIT Startup Immersion in September of 2015 and knew she could use this time to buckle down and learn as much as she could to land a job in a startup. “I really needed to immerse myself in coding and build on the fundamentals. I also really needed someone I could go to with questions.” She knew that literally immersing herself in the coding world would be what she needed to succeed, and having the support of the UIT success coaches and mentors was the icing on the cake.

When we asked her what the hardest part of coding has been she admits that “the hardest part has been feeling like you don’t know enough, or aren’t good enough…but they [those feelings] become less and less prominent the more I learn and talk to people in the industry.” She goes on to remark that “Cape Breton is building a really supportive atmosphere, so I feel very lucky to be a part of that community.”

Rachel took a junior developer position with Layers, Inc. as soon as she graduated from UIT Startup Immersion and she hopes to either launch her own company or continue working for an established company right here in Cape Breton. She hopes to be able to mentor other women in the industry and she comments, “I would like to see more women developers. I’ve encountered nothing but support and encouragement so far in my career, but women developers in our local community are few and far between.”

UIT recognizes the need to encourage women to get into tech, especially in Cape Breton, and offers the UIT Women in Technology Bursary to make it easier for women to break into the industry. Rachael says, “We need you! I let doubt creep in for many years before deciding to make this change and it has been going great so far. We need new ideas and new perspectives so if you’re interested, jump in!”

When she isn’t working on a mobile app product, winning prizes at local hackathons, or spending time with her dog, Rachael likes to swim, bake and play trains with her niece and nephew! She admits to having an obsessive problem with painting furniture white, and she dreams of making tech and robotics programs more robust for kids in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

If you run into Rachael, give her a high five for going after what she wanted – she’s pretty cool.


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