„Forget about IT stereotypes!“

Diana Ilithya ist eine mexikanische Webdesignerin und Front-End Entwicklerin. Nach ihrem Marketingstudium in Mexiko und einer Arbeitsperiode in den USA brachte sie sich Coden selbst bei, zog nach Deutschland und ist nach acht Jahren Freelance-Arbeit erfolgreich etabliert. Sie ist in verschiedenen IT-Communities in Hamburg aktiv, um als Vorbild für junge Frauen in der IT-Branche zu fungieren.

Hello Diana, please introduce yourself.
My name is Diana Ilithya and I am a Freelance Web Designer and Front-End Developer. As a Web Designer I get to design website layouts or website’s components/modules. And if needed, I can even come up with a concept for such layout as well.

As a Front-End Developer I get to build websites. In the development world if you are a front-end developer, this means you build the interfaces and experiences that a user sees and interacts with in websites. Coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP are to be dabbled. I started to work in this field because of two reasons: curiosity and hobby. Since I was a teenager I am keen on design, art, internet and technology.

To be more precise, during my last employee job back in California, I was doing Marketing and Graphic Design for two years at a local Internet Service Provider (ISP). At the end of my time there, I started to get more and more curious about programming, the more I got to design layouts or components for websites, in addition to learning about new tools for building blogs or websites. It was then that I wanted to see if I could bring my own design ideas to life.

So how did you go about learning how to program?
I am self-taught. While I did go to University, I did not study IT there. My field of study was a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. I learned both professions, design and development, slowly during my free time for a long time. Meanwhile it was a hobby, up until I decided to make it my job. That happened when I moved to Germany in 2009 and studied more intensively with tutorials and testing things. At the same time I searched for an internship, which eventually was the key to getting my first freelance job as a web designer and front-end developer.

What current challenges do you face at work and are any of them related to you being female?
I am very lucky that at the moment and in most of my time in Germany, none of my challenges have been or are related to being female. The current challenge I face at work is, that when I must write Java-Script, I am still not satisfied enough with the speed and quality of my code. For me, JavaScript has been one of the trickiest front-end languages to learn. Even after many years of writing it on and off, I still feel I need to improve more: write cleaner code in a faster speed.

„Learn to wear mistakes and to fail. Try, try and try again!“

How did you solve past challenges, both personally and technically?
The way I solved a past challenge has been through confrontation. No matter how intimidating the challenge or scared I was, I would force myself to jump on it. Telling myself it will not be the end of the world, if things would not end up the way I wanted to. And that whatever the aftermath is, I can always move forward. After solving more than a couple of challenges, one learns that victories are of course satisfying, but that also failures are not fully negative, and help us shape and gather experience.

What do you love/ dislike about your job?
I love everything about my job. I am a real geek 🙂 I am not sure there might be something I dislike at all.

Would you do something different looking back?
Looking back, sometimes I think that if I knew I would love to do what I do now, I would have studied something different during my University time. Something related to Computer Engineering or Design. But to be honest, I am happy things turned out the way they did with my life.

Because maybe if I had not studied Marketing back then, I would have never gotten that job in California which – when they hired me – was mainly for Marketing at the beginning. I guess I was just too young when I needed to decide what to do with my life, during University times back in Mexico: only 17. I just needed time to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life professionally.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve you would like to tell young women who are ready to join the IT-working world?
I would advice the young ladies to firstly forget about IT stereotypes, and if they are curious about how a website, software or app works: Give it a try and start exploring how that actually works. In this industry a lot of knowledge is achieved not only by studying and working on the field, but also by playing and testing things around in our free time.

I would also advice them to reach out to their local communities and seek out IT groups in order to network or learn together with and from others. Here in Hamburg we are lucky to have a wonderful, broad and active IT community. When it comes to women specifically, there are several groups for young adult ladies to attend and be inspired by other women developers.

Another important thing not to forget, learn to wear mistakes and to fail. There will be many times, specially in the beginning when things will not work out as you expect. But do not give up. Try, try, and then try again. Accept mistakes when or if they do and be savvy. If you find a solution, share it, so that others can also learn about how to avoid such mistakes, and you can as well learn from others.

In this IT industry is so important to be giving as opposed to other industries, because since it is advancing and growing constantly, it is hard to stay on top of everything on one’s own. Thus by helping each other, we can decide faster where to pay more attention, what already works and what does not yet in order to avoid reinventing steady wheels and focus on inventing new ones. Be patient. Never give up. Keep on, and learn to pick yourself up quickly when the storm strikes. We need more female role models in this industry and you could become one of them for the future you. This job could be so much fun and it is so well paid ladies. Plus you can work with it from anywhere in the world!

Diana trainiert ihre HTML-, CSS- und JS-Skills spielerisch auf codepen.io/ilithya, wo andere Interessierte dann selbst mit dem Code arbeiten und so den Umgang mit ihm lernen können.

Folgt ihr auf Twitter: twitter.com/ilithya_net

Weitere Beiträge zu und über IT-Dienstleister gibt’s im Karrierenetzwerk Software Engineering.