Greatness can be captured in one word: lifestyle. Life is God’s gift to you, style is what you make of it.
-Mae Jemison

I love this quote not only because its by my favorite STEM queen, but also because it reminds me that life, and specifically a successful life, is all about adding your own flair to it. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, just make the most of God’s gift to you.

 

Who is Jordyn Smith?

I am a Software Engineer that specializes in web development. I have an B.S. of Computer Science from North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University.  I currently resides in the state of Washington.

 

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

Although I didn’t discover coding until late into my high school career I have always grown up around technology thanks to my dad. Ever since I was a little kid I have always had a computer in my room, and my dad was the king of gadgets. He always liked to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in technology and came home with new gadgets often. Because of his infatuation with technology, it was very easy for me to follow suit.

 

 

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

I actually applied to my school as a business marketing student because I’ve always found the psychology behind marketing to very interesting, and was also intimidated by the workload and challenges of being a computer science student. By the end of my first semester, I found myself unchallenged, unfulfilled, and generally bored by business marketing. I resolved to change my major to computer science the next semester.

 

 

What do you love most about your job?

There’s something extremely satisfying about stringing together a bunch statements and seeing your work materialize immediately, behaving exactly as you built it to.

 

 

What things would you change about your current job?

There are numerous advantages to working off of a desktop computer, such as computer power and the number and size of computer screens. Unfortunately, it also means that I’m confined to a desk most of my day. So it would be nice to be more mobile with my job.

 

 

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

How easy and quickly I was able to contribute to my team when first starting. Within the first month, I had already created and added a feature to the tool we are making. Every few days I am able to add something new. It’s great to be, and more importantly feel, apart of something significant.

 

 

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

Many of the people that I work with have been working in the industry for over 20 years. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be very intimidating. Sometimes it’s hard to have the confidence to voice my ideas without feeling as though they are irrelevant or too simple. This insecurity only exists in my head and requires some self-motivation to get past.

 

 

What are your future goals related to your career?

I am very early in my career, so truthfully, I’m not entirely sure of what all of the possibilities are when it comes to the future aside from becoming a manager and/or a senior developer. This is not to say that I don’t aspire to these positions, but there may more be more options available to me that I’m not aware of that I might like to pursue as well. What I can say with certainty is that I want to move around within my company in the future. I enjoy the team that I am on now, but the company I work for is so large that the possibilities are nearly limitless for what I could be apart of.

 

 

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

Technology moves fast. Someone comes up with a new and better way to solve old problems on a regular basis. It’s important to be open to these new ideas and learning new concepts, and to know when it’s time to change your old way of thinking.

 

 

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

I am the only woman and the only person of color on my team. I’ve only been on the team for a little over three months, but I’ve been very well received and have been a valuable contributor. By simply doing my job confidently and to the best of my ability, I disprove any notion that women of color are less capable than their male counterparts.

Additionally, while in college I participated in several volunteering events in which we reached out to young girls to promote STEM fields. I plan to continue to do the same while in my new career. Finally, while in school I built a game my senior year that starred a black female computer science student as the protagonist. My team and I wanted to be intentional about the setting of our game because of the under-representation of the black woman as both leads in video games and as successful figures in STEM fields.

 

 

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?

I know that you are about to enter a field in which you will often be the unicorn in the room – the only women, a person of color, or both. Many of them might expect you to be less capable than they are at your job. But I also know that you have a competitive spirit that causes you to want to disprove any doubts and negative opinions. So, realize that you are in the room for a reason and that your voice is valuable. Do what you do best, and just do your best.

 

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

A career in STEM can be very challenging, but like with anything else, if you have the passion to pursue it, don’t let anything stand in your way. You don’t have better than anyone else, because that’s not what it’s about. Just focus on your goals and do your best.

 

What is your favorite Quote? How do you apply this to your life?

Greatness can be captured in one word: lifestyle. Life is God™s gift to you, style is what you make of it.
-Mae Jemison

I love this quote not only because it’s by my favorite STEM queen, but also because it reminds me that life, and specifically a successful life, is all about adding your own flair to it. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, just make the most of God’s gift to you.
I love this quote by doing just that. I live my life in a way in which I feel the most fulfilled and in which the people and things I love are given the most value.

 

Fun Facts

Some of my favorite forms of programming is web development and game development. As my senior project I built a game similar to Galaga or Space Invaders staring a black female college student navigating the perils of college life. I have another idea for quickdraw style game I’d like to make soon as well. I also built a personal website as a beginner project to learning web development. (I haven’t updated it in a while but it’s available to browse to at jordynniara.co)

My other hobbies include boxing/working out, playing video games, watching movies, cooking and trying new foods, and running a food blog on Instagram.  I am teaching myself how to skateboard.

 

 

My Family Influence

I am originally from, and my family resides in, the Chicago suburbs. My mom is a Workforce Developer at a community college and my dad is a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. I have two younger sisters, one who is a freshman at Clark-Atlanta University, and one who is a junior in high school. They are the most valuable people in my life and I attribute all my accomplishments to them.

Additionally, I want to share my appreciation for the never-ending encouragement I received from my parents. My sisters and I all have very different passions, but my parents were supportive and involved in all of them. None of us would have been able to develop the skills we have without their support.

 

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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