“Because there are so many stigma’s surrounding being a woman of color in STEM, we often focus in on those things. I would encourage my younger self to let go of feelings of inferiority, recognize my strengths, and don’t focus on being the minority in the room.”

 

Who is Cara Smith?

I am currently a Front-end Web Developer for a healthcare company. In 2014, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and began my career as a web developer in the eCommerce industry. As an eCommerce developer, I had the pleasure of building eCommerce stores for several major sports teams including the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Pistons. Now, as a UI Engineer, I create, update and maintain engaging digital experiences for healthcare programs.

 

 

Specialized Training

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science – Kennesaw State University

Magento Certified Developer – eCommerce

 

 

How did you choose to pursue this field?

I’ve always been interested in technology, even as a kid. My mother has been a teacher for over 25 years, and during the summers she would bring home educational computer games for my sister and I to play. I enjoyed playing the games, but I was even more interested in how they were made. I knew then that I wanted to create software.

 

 

 

Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?

I can’t say that I had a role model that specifically guided me to a career in tech, but with my mother and grandmother being educators, the importance of education was instilled in me throughout my life. Now, I follow women like Una Kravets to keep me inspired and motivated to reach my potential in the field.

 

 

Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?

Technology has always been an interest of mine, even as a small child. I was probably around the age of 7 or 8 when I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in tech. At the time, I wanted to build educational software games for children. I enjoyed playing them but was also very curious as to how they were actually made. To this day, I still have aspirations of being a developer in the education industry.

 

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I have an opportunity to solve problems and tap into my creative side every day. To me, programming is like any other art. You start with a blank canvas, or in my case, a blank text editor, and you’re able to build a fully functioning application or program that people can interact with.

 

 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?

The most rewarding aspect is seeing a project through from beginning to end and seeing the impact it has on thousands of people.

 

 

 

What things would you want to see changed about your current job?

More diversity! I’d love to work alongside more women in tech. I’m often the only woman on my team and I can’t wait until that changes.

 

 

 

What are the most difficult things about working in your field?

Sometimes the most difficult aspect is keeping up with new technologies and making judgment calls on the best tech stack to use. There’s so much out there so it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. I just try to remind myself that while I do need to be knowledgable about a lot of things, I don’t have to be an expert at everything.

 

 

 

 

What are your future goals related to your career?

Since every industry needs technology, I see myself working across various industries as a developer. I believe that working in various industries will give me a well-rounded perspective on how tech impacts the world. So far, I’ve worked in eCommerce and healthcare. In the future, I see myself working in education coding applications and programs to assist students and teachers.

 

 

 

 

What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?

Don’t be intimidated by others who may seem more advanced or experienced. Technology is always changing and there are always new development technologies to learn. This levels the playing field between beginners and more experienced developers. A person with years of development experience becomes a newbie to new technologies on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?

I’ve combatted the stigma by just being confident and committing to the goals I’ve set for myself. I also try to keep a positive outlook when things get challenging. When you deliver quality work and people see that you have a “can-do” attitude when challenges arise, it’s hard for them to deny you.

 

 

 

 

What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?

“Because there are so many stigma’s surrounding being a woman of color in STEM, we often focus in on those things. I would encourage my younger self to let go of feelings of inferiority, recognize my strengths, and don’t focus on being the minority in the room.”

 

 

 

Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?

1 – Take the limits off of yourself.

2 – Be curious and look for opportunities to learn.

3 – Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is often a stepping stone.

 

 

What is your favorite quote?

While not necessarily my favorite quote, one that resonates with me now is:

“The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.” -Mark Zuckerberg I apply this to my life by trying something I’ve never done even if I have no idea what the outcome will be. I used to be afraid of failing, so I would avoid certain tasks, situations, etc. It’s still challenging, but now I try to be mindful of not letting fear of failure hinder me.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed learning about our latest “STEMsation”, please comment about how her experiences have inspired you, how your experiences can inspire others and nominate our next “STEMsation to spotlight their amazing accomplishments.

 

 

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